A small blurb on Black Tusk. Crazy to think I have walked infront of their office 6 or 7 times on the way to Canucks games and didnt even know it. Who Is Black Tusk Studios?
A quick education on the new Gears of War developer.
by Mitch Dyer JANUARY 27, 2014
Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver is better known as Black Tusk. For a first-party, AAA game developer, it's fairly unknown... for now. The new Gears of War studio is about to become a household name. The team's debut game, a still untitled sci-fi action game, was revealed in an E3 2013 teaser trailer. That game's future remains uncertain in the wake of Microsoft's acquisition of the Gears of War IP.
The unknown studio holds the future of Microsoft's second most recognizable shooter series (next to Halo, of course) in its hands. But who is Black Tusk?
Black Tusk occupies two floors of a brick building in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. It opened in 2010 as Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver, and received its new moniker in 2012, around the time its Project Columbia was canceled. Its staff is, for the most part, industry veterans with an average of 12 years experience. At the top is studio manager Rod Fergusson and general manager Hanno Lemke.
Fergusson spent a decade at Microsoft before working in various production roles to get Gears of War off the ground at Epic Games. He spent some time at Irrational Games finishing up BioShock Infinite, and a hot minute at a new 2K Games studio that may or may not be working on Mafia III.
Lemke, meanwhile, has been in charge of Microsoft's bigger properties' business -- Forza, Fable, Ryse, and more -- for a few years. He was also the general manager of EA's Black Box during its Need for Speed and Skate era.
The development team itself has a rich history of excellent games. The combined resume of Black Tusk's team includes Splinter Cell: Conviction, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Crysis 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, God of War III, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, The Saboteur, and more.
Black Tusk also recruited plenty of ex-employees of other Vancouver studios, including the shuttered Propaganda Games, Slant Six, and Black Box.
While Black Tusk doesn't have many household names among its ranks, the history is impressive and reassuring. Microsoft's Phil Spencer claimed the new IP -- the game we saw in Black Tusk's teaser trailer -- isn't shelved, merely that it was a "concept." The plan was to make "the next Halo," in terms of AAA, first-party importance.
Time will tell if Black Tusk will still get that opportunity.
For more on Black Tusk's future, including its Gears of War game, stay tuned to IGN.