The Gears of War franchise and all its rights are now the property of Microsoft.
The platform holder acquired the series from its creator Epic Games, and has handed development over to Black Tusk Studios, a Microsoft-owned developer based in Vancouver.
Epic Games’ former executive producer and director of production Rod Fergusson has joined Black Tusk to oversee the future of the franchise, according to Polygon.
Fergusson originally left Epic in August 2012 and joined Irrational Games, but departed after BioShock Infinite was finished.
Microsoft has said Fergusson will "play a key studio leadership role at Black Tusk on the development of the franchise going forward".
In a statement to Polygon, Fergusson said: "I’m extremely excited to be joining Black Tusk Studios to oversee development on the Gears of War franchise. I’ve been privileged to work on a lot of great games with a lot of great teams, but Gears has had the most impact on me professionally and personally, so this really feels like a homecoming. I can’t wait to share more with you soon."
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer offered more information on what has led to this surprise move.
"We finished the last Gears talking about the next iteration of the franchise, one that Epic and I were going to talk about just as a natural course of the publishing and studio relationship," he said.
"They didn’t have a firm plan for what they wanted to do with Gears, which obviously opened the door to conversation. They wanted to make sure the franchise landed somewhere we could develop it well, so we started having discussions about how we could continue the franchise."