Just four months after announcing plans to head up a new 2K Games studio in the San Francisco Bay Area, former Gears of War and BioShock Infinite producer Rod Fergusson is on to a new thing.
But this time it's a return to the Gears of War franchise on which he spent nearly eight years working.
This morning, Microsoft announced that it has acquired all of the rights to the Gears of War franchise and that it is bringing on Fergusson to help oversee the next game at the Black Tusk Studios in Vancouver.
Following an interview with Microsoft's Phil Spencer, we caught up with Fergusson for a short email interview. He declined to talk about what this surprise move would mean to the newly minted 2K studio, but did answer a few of our questions.
Fergusson's departure from Epic came the month after massive Chinese internet company Tencent purchased 40 percent of Epic capital for $330 million. He moved on to Irrational Games in August of 2012 where he served as the executive vice president of development. He spent about nine months helping with BioShock Infinite's final development before leaving in April, 2013.
He told Polygon at the time that he was brought in as a "closer" and that once the game shipped he had set out to do what he was hired to do and was looking forward to the "next chapter" in his life.
It seemed that next chapter was going to be heading up a new studio for 2K when he announced the new gig on Twitter in September. At the time, he said the studio would be working on an "exciting new project" with more details coming soon. But that update never came.
So why did Fergusson decide to return to Gears of War just as he begins seeking out the next chapter in his life?
"'If you want something done right, do it yourself.' So when the opportunity came, I grabbed it."
"Honestly, because I missed it," he told Polygon in an email. "As a player, I’ve never had a better gaming experience than when I was playing Gears with my friends — especially Gears 2 Horde Mode. And as a creator, I was part of the birthing process of this franchise and it made me sad that it wasn’t going to move beyond what we had accomplished. Dammit, I want to play the next Gears game right now! What’s the old line? 'If you want something done right, do it yourself.' So when the opportunity came, I grabbed it."
Fergusson added that there were a lot of things about the offer that appealed to him.
"First it's a homecoming on many levels — returning to my Canadian homeland after 15 years, returning to Microsoft where my games career got started and of course coming home to making my favorite franchise of all time — Gears of War," he wrote. "Second, I was really impressed with the extremely talented team of people at Black Tusk and I'm really looking forward to working with them to move Gears forward. And third, I never really felt that I was done with Gears and so I was really excited to continue what we started. I have a lot of great ideas of how we can grow the franchise."
Fergusson declined to discuss if Black Tusk was looking to hire any other former Gears of War developers or how moving the franchise to a new team, perhaps one without the core developers from the original titles, would impact the feel of the game.
He did say that his first day at the studio would be today.
"There's a lot of work to be done and we wanted to get started as soon as possible so as soon as the ink was dry, I boarded an airplane to Vancouver."
Update: Reached for comment Monday afternoon a 2K Games spokesperson had this to say:
"We can confirm that Rod Fergusson is no longer with 2K. Any projects the new studio is working on were unaffected by his departure. We wish Rod the best of luck in his future endeavors."
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