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Games

Published on January 27th, 2014 | by Chris Scott

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Microsoft Makes Sure Gears Stays Put

Forging an identity for a product is one of the biggest challenges any company faces. Once crafted, maintaining that identity is even more important. Microsoft’s Xbox brand has been built on a pillar of four franchises, Halo, Forza Motorsport, Fable and Gears of War. Halo is their strongest pillar and the backbone of the Xbox legacy. Xbox is still very much the brand that Halo built but over the lifetime of the Xbox 360, Gears of War became the second pillar, taking a lot of weight off of Halo to be the be all, end all for the brand.

Unlike Halo, Forza and Fable though, Gears was also a special case, it was wholly owned and developed by Epic Games, meaning that its future exclusivity to Microsoft platforms was never guaranteed. This technicality was one that fans of Sony’s Playstation brand have long hoped would result in Gears of War eventually ending up on their chosen platform. Can you picture Marcus Fenix being controlled by a Dualshock 4? Microsoft could and did what anyone protecting their brand identity would do in this case, they bought Gears of War from Epic Games ensuring that it would remain an Xbox exclusive.

Microsoft has announced that their new studio, Black Tusk, would be taking the reins to the franchise under the leadership of former Gears developer, Rod Fergusson. If this sounds a bit familiar, that is because it is. With some notable differences, this is exactly what happened when Microsoft took control of Halo from Bungie and handed it to 343 Industries under the guidance of longtime Halo dev, Frank O’Connor. That situation ended up with Halo 4, and being as that game was an excellent continuation, as well as a fresh start, to the franchise, I have a lot of confidence that Black Tusk will be able to be as successful with the Gears franchise.

As a Gears fan, I’m actually excited to see what Black Tusk brings to the table and knowing that Microsoft understands the importance of Gears and respects that I feel we’ll get something done right. As a fan of games though, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that Black Tusk is maybe not working on the new property it teased at last year’s E3. Hopefully Microsoft realizes the importance of developing some new properties for this generation of games and has some of that reported billion dollar budget for gaming pledged to new titles that could help to reinforce the foundation the Xbox brand is built on.

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