In what’s shaping up to be a busy week for executive reshuffling, Gears of War franchise producer Rod Fergusson today announced his departure from The Coalition, the Canadian developer responsible for Gears of War 4 and Gears 5. Fergusson has worked on every Gears game since the series’ inception in 2006.
“I began working on Gears of War over 15 years ago and since then, it has been the joy of my life,” Fergusson said on Twitter. “But now it’s time for a new adventure. I leave Gears in the great hands of The Coalition and can’t wait for everyone to play Gears Tactics on April 28.”
He continued, “Starting in March, I will join Blizzard to oversee the Diablo franchise. Leaving is bittersweet as I love our Gears family, the fans, and everyone at The Coalition and Xbox. Thank you, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with you all.”
Neither Blizzard nor The Coalition have made statements about Fergusson’s new corner office in whichever layer of Hell has the executive bathrooms, but the official Gears Twitter account did retweet his announcement.
Fergusson’s Gears-based accomplishments include a Producer credit on Gears of War, a Senior Producer credit on Gears of War 2, and an Executive Producer credit on Gears of War 3, in addition to Studio Head credits on Gears of War 4, Gears of War Ultimate Edition, and Gears 5. His non-Gears rap sheet includes Executive Producer credits on Bulletstorm, Infinity Blade, Shadow Complex, and Lost Planet 2.
For those that don’t closely follow the machinations of the video game industry, the Gears franchise began as a product of Epic Games, now known as the purveyor of Fortnite and the
free game machine that also sells Tetris Effect and Control Epic Games Store. Fergusson left Epic in August of 2012 to join Irrational Games, where he helped get Bioshock Infinite out of its five-year development hole and onto store shelves. He would then leave Irrational less than a year later in April of 2013.
In early 2014, Microsoft purchased the rights to the Gears franchise from Epic, and quickly hired Fergusson to lead development on the series once again. Fergusson was put in charge of The Coalition, who has since handled development of all Gears titles.
The Coalition was originally founded in 2011 as Zipline Studios, and at the time it was a social (read: Facebook) developer. Zipline released a single title on Facebook, Relic Rescue, before Microsoft renamed it to Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver and tasked it with developing 2012’s Microsoft Flight. All 35 employees at Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver were laid off five months after the release of Flight, and in November of 2012 the studio was renamed once again to Black Tusk Studios.
After restaffing, Black Tusk began work on an unannounced new IP that would cease production in 2014, when Fergusson took over and the studio was renamed for a fourth time. One assumes that any remnants of Black Tusk’s abandoned Halo killer have long since been cannibalized by The Coalition’s subsequent development projects.
Fergusson is the second high-profile show runner to announce their departure this week: Take-Two Interactive announced yesterday that Rockstar Games Head Writer and Co-founder Dan Houser will leave his company this March, though Houser has yet to announce his destination, if any.