Gears of War studio The Coalition just lost its head as Rod Fergusson, who's worked on the franchise for fifteen years (except for a brief stint at Irrational Games where he helped ship BioShock Infinite), revealed to be joining Blizzard as the new 'overseer' of the Diablo franchise.
In an interview with GamesIndustry that went live just after Fergusson's announcement, Head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty claimed that Microsoft is very much happy with Gears 5, with the franchise's fanbase on a steady growth.
I feel great about Gears 5. I will start with what's most important, in that the quality and the craft of the game is world class. I say that definitively without having to put any exceptions or caveats around that. We are particularly happy with the progress that they've made in terms of accessibility, diversity representation in the game, and some of the awards it got for things like audio. We are still seeing a tremendous amount of energy around the passionate and global fanbase. That group continues to grow.
We have continued growth in merchandise, linear media... Universal still has the option for the movie out there. So we feel great about it. And in terms of the game's performance, it has done very well within Game Pass.
Indeed, Gears 5 received widespread (albeit not quite universal) acclaim. In our review, Dave said it was an excellent game save for a few issues.
In the same interview, Booty discussed the effort to diversify the Gears IP with other games such as Gears Pop! for mobile devices and Gears Tactics, the XCOM-like game developed by Splash Damage and due in a couple of months.
It was a concerted effort to think about how we can broaden that universe. When you think about broadening a franchise, it is not just taking characters and stories in new directions, but it's about what new gameplay mechanics can come about? What are new ways of engaging with the franchise? That shows up in some subtle ways, for example the way the character Jack was used as a way for newer players to engage and start to learn about Gears. All the way to things that are much more overt, when you're talking about something like Gears Pop, which is on a completely different device and with a completely different gameplay style. It was absolutely a very focused and planned effort to go and broaden the franchise.
For the foreseeable future, The Coalition (which will probably hire a new studio head fairly soon) seems to be still focused on making Gears games.