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Gears of War studio head leaves to make Diablo

Rod Fergusson, a veteran of both Microsoft and Epic Games, also had a hand in Bioshock

Lillith, as shown in the cinematic reveal trailer for Diablo 4. Blizzard Entertainment
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Veteran game developer Rod Fergusson is leaving The Coalition, where he helped lead the team behind Gears 5. His next role will be with Blizzard, where he will oversee the Diablo franchise. Fergusson announced the move today via Twitter.

“Leaving is bittersweet as I love our Gears family, the fans, and everyone at The Coalition and Xbox,” Fergusson said. Thank you, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with you all.”

Fergusson’s career in the games industry started with Microsoft in the 1990s. In the early 2000s he joined Epic Games, where he participated in the development of the Gears of War franchise. In 2015, he joined The Coalition, the studio that Microsoft put in charge of Gears of War after buying the franchise from Epic Games. The Coalition’s name is a nod to the Coalition of Governments (COG) from the Gears of War lore.

Gears 5 launched at the end of 2019 to critical and commercial success. Our review called it an “unexpected” open-world journey that “excels just as well when it’s quiet and introspective as it does when it’s as loud as a (Cole) train.”

Fergusson joins Blizzard at a turbulent time for the developer and publisher. Entering 2020, Blizzard has been rocked by a series of public relations disasters related to the company’s response over protests by professional Hearthstone players and the state of its latest title, Warcraft 3: Reforged.

But the company did announce Diablo 4 at Blizzcon last November. The dungeon-crawler is far and away Blizzard’s most mature franchise, and also one of its most commercially viable series.

Diablo 3 had a rocky life after its 2012 launch, and was widely panned by critics and derided by fans. Fergusson, who has delivered satisfying AAA games at scale for Epic and Microsoft, seems like a strong addition to help finish Diablo 4. The game does not currently have a release date.