Microsoft's Phil Spencer ponders future of Gears of War
"Maybe take it more gritty, I don't know..."
With the Xbox One on the horizon, what next for Gears of War, the Microsoft exclusive series that helped define HD gaming on Xbox 360?
We haven't heard much of Gears since the March 2013 launch of Gears of War: Judgment, which failed to match the sales and impact of previous entries in the series. Series creator Epic Games, which has seen much change over the last year, has so far remained quiet on Marcus Fenix and co as it works on Unreal Engine 4 and Fortnite. Indeed it was subsidiary People Can Fly - not Epic - that did the leg work on Judgment.
With the launch of Xbox One next month, surely it won't be long before Gears grinds again. But according to Microsoft Studios chief Phil Spencer, it sounds like a new game could be a long way off.
"I want to find a great Gears game," he said in an IGN podcast (via GameRevolution).
"I thought we did a good job with Judgment, but I don't think it hit the level of quality we saw in the previous games. I think review scores showed that. Sales showed that. I really think we'd need to take a step back with Epic and think about... I don't want to call it a reboot because I think it's an overused term but think about where that franchise goes and how to expand what it was.
"I'd love to have that conversation. I do talk to the Epic guys often. They're also busy right now. I think they've said Gears is kind of on the back burner for them. So I think it would be a situation when the opportunity came up at the right time it'd be great to sit down with them. They're, again, the right team to work on that game. Trying to find another team to do that game I think is possible, but you'd want to make sure you did that very carefully along with them to make sure we had the right thing in place."
So, what might a next-gen Gears of War look like? You'd expect the visuals to be much improved, fuelled, no doubt, by Epic's own Unreal Engine 4.
Spencer, in thinking out loud about reworking the series, mentioned the word "gritty".
"I think that franchise would need to be... not reworked but you'd need to think about how to expand the universe and what people are doing," he said.
"Maybe take it more gritty, I don't know. You'd want to do something with it, because I think it did run its course on 360. And it was a great success on the 360, but it doesn't quite have a story arc of a thing like Halo or something, at least the way it's played out in the games."
"I think that franchise would need to be... not be reworked but think about how to expand that universe and what people are doing. Maybe take it more gritty, I don't know."Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer