Gears 5: Microsoft Had No Creative Input "At All," Dev Says
"Now the strategy is to make awesome games and then we'll figure it out."
Gears 5 makes a number of big changes to the series with its new hero, Kait, along with bigger levels and some RPG elements. These ideas came from developer The Coalition, but how did Microsoft feel about these changes? "They actually don't have any creative input at all," The Coalition boss Rod Fergusson told GameSpot in a recent interview.
According to Fergusson, Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty and overall Xbox boss Phil Spencer put a lot of trust in their studio heads to manage their own projects.
"It's really about trusting the studio heads and the teams there to recognize what's the best way to leverage whatever it is they're building," he said. "Matt has a great line around just building great games. It's just the notion of don't worry about business models, don't worry about subscriptions, don't worry about changing things to adopt to a particular strategy. If you make an awesome game, then we can take that awesome game and apply it to different strategies."
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The first and most important rule is to "make a great game and focus on quality of execution," Fergusson said. "We say what we do and we do what we say, and when we say we're going to deliver you a game, we deliver you a game, and we do it at the highest quality we can."
Fergusson said creative decisions shouldn't be made from higher-ups on the top-down model. "I think the strength of the bottom-up way we're doing things now allows for each studio to have its own identity and to be creative--the top-down stuff doesn't work," he said. "And we saw that I think. I was part of the Gears of War Kinect game that never saw the light of day, and that was okay. How do we force something to be on strategy? And now the strategy is to make awesome games and then we'll figure it out."
The business models at Xbox have indeed changed since Gears of War 4 came out. All of Microsoft's first-party games--including Gears 5--launch into Xbox Game Pass for no extra cost. Microsoft hasn't said how this change has impacted developers; some have wondered how royalty payments and other sales-related metrics change in this new model. Those specifics remain unknown.
Whatever the case, Fergusson said he's focused on growing the Gears of War franchise to get it back to where it was during its heyday when it was developed by Epic Games. (Microsoft bought the Gears of War franchise from Epic in 2014 for an undisclosed sum).
"We looked at it like this: okay, Epic put Gears of War on a shelf and said, 'We'll never make it again.' So when Microsoft bought Gears, I was really excited about the fact that we can actually see where this is capable of going," Fergusson said. "And then sort of parallel to what Microsoft was doing, we wanted to expand the audience and the reach of the Gears of War brand. So how do we go back to what it was in its heyday?"
Gears 5 launches on September 10, but the game unlocks four days early for people who buy the game's Ultimate edition or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass. The game is available to pre-load right now, and you can see GameSpot's rundown of the Gears 5 server start times, launch maps, and more.
For more, check out GameSpot's new preview of Gears 5: Gears 5: Huge, Open Levels And Creative Combat Deliver Big Changes
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