Why Epic Games sold Gears of War to Microsoft

CEO Tim Sweeney says, "As much as we love the game, we're heading in a new direction."

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Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has explained why the studio sold the Gears of War franchise, what some believed was the company's crown jewel, to Microsoft. In a new interview, Sweeney simply stated that though the company adores the franchise, it has other plans in mind.

"We've gone through a long process of figuring out the games we're going to build at Epic worldwide in the future and we concluded that we weren't going to be building any more Gears of War," Sweeney told Polygon. "As much as we love the game, we're heading in a new direction."

"The core Gears values are really tied to being big event-based, single-player console games with awesome cover mechanics and other things that really didn't translate into the future approach we were taking with online games, and competitive and cooperative multiplayer," he added. "Because we weren't planning on building any more Gears games we were just going to let that sit on the shelf for a decade or more, in case it had any future value to us."

Sweeney went on to say that it's better for Gears of War to be in the hands of Microsoft than to be sitting unused on the shelf at Epic Games. "We weren't going to build it and we realized the world wanted more Gears of War," he said.

Terms of Microsoft's acquisition of the Gears of War franchise were not disclosed when the deal was announced in January. The Microsoft-owned Black Tusk Studios is currently working on a new entry in the series, presumably for Xbox One, with veteran Gears of War designer Rod Fergusson attached to the title as its producer. The Gears of War series has sold over 22 million copies to date, driving more than $1 billion in lifetime revenue.

As for the future of Epic Games now that Gears of War is in its past, the studio is currently working on PC-exclusive Fortnite (powered by Unreal Engine 4) as well as unannounced projects. Sweeney said more than 90 developers at Epic Games are working on Fortnite right now.

Finally, Sweeney said you should expect a change of focus for Epic Games that more closely resembles the way in which DOTA 2 developer Valve and League of Legends creator Riot Games approach gaming.

"We're looking at the future of gaming from kind of a Valve or Riot point of view," Sweeney said. "[Which is] making your games really accessible, being fair to customers and giving them a great value with a game that can be played for hundreds or thousands of hours."

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