Gears of War's The Coalition studio head departs for Blizzard

The Coalition studio head, Rod Fergusson
The Coalition studio head, Rod Fergusson (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Rod Fergusson, studio head for Gears of War caretaker, The Coalition, has announced plans to depart Microsoft.
  • Fergusson joins Blizzard Entertainment next month, overseeing the Diablo franchise.

The Coalition head, Rod Fergusson, has announced plans to depart Microsoft, and moving onto a role within Activision Blizzard. Overseeing Xbox Game Studios' dedicated Gears of War developer for half a decade, Fergusson will soon shift focus to the Diablo franchise.

His departure follows heading The Coalition since inception, migrating away from Black Tusk Studios branding and shipping three Gears of War titles. While debuting the remastered Gears of War: Ultimate Edition in 2015, Fergusson watched over the four and fifth mainline entries. It comes as Microsoft prepares to release Gears Tactics in April, shifting away from its shooter roots into turn-based strategy.

Fergusson announced the move on Twitter, detailing plans to join the Diablo team in March.

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Fergusson started his career at Microsoft, shifting to Epic Games in 2005, aiding in the development of the original Gears of War trilogy. His return to Microsoft followed its acquisition of Gears of War, since delivering two mainline titles, and now solidified among the staples of the modern Xbox lineup. While scheduled to depart in March, a new studio head is yet to be confirmed. It follows former Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Gaming, Mike Ybarra, who joined Blizzard Entertainment in late 2019, following 20 years at Redmond.

Microsoft is scheduled to ship Gears Tactics on April 28, 2020, headed to Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Steam. Its tactical squad gameplay essentially fuzes the world of Gears of War with XCOM, primarily developed Splash Damage, with support from the Vancouver-based developer. That follows the launch of Gears 5, which while initially launching to praise, has struggled to retain a long-term following.

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

21 Comments
  • 50% of all stats heard on the Internet are made up. Fact!
  • Such a real and relatable guy. He will be missed.
  • Feels bittersweet alright. But maybe it's me, I don't like Blizzard.
  • Nobody likes Blizzard right now, after the Warcraft 3 :Refunded calamity.
    Blizzard didn't apologize for the dreadful product they churned out with missing promises, and effectively implied its the consumers fault for expecting too much. They literally have ZERO clue how to be nice to their customer base, Blizzard are now effectively Activision and all the corporate greed that goes with it.
    Sad times.
  • Out of the pot and into the fire
  • Didn't see that coming, wonder how much it will change the direction of The Coalition. Good luck to Rod Fergusson though, he will be a boon to Blizzard with his pragmatic high quality direction.
  • Cheers Rod. You done a fantastic job. Absolutely loved Gears 5. Amazing game. Only I'm worried your joining Blizzard. A company a shell of its former self. Activision have literally destroyed Bungie and Blizzard. Good luck.
  • Isn't Ybarra former VP of Xbox now the VP of Blizzard?. Maybe Blizzard is trying to reboot itself. First Ybarra now Fergusson at Blizzard. Or maybe this is a sign Microsoft is buying Blizzard /jk. But, seriously two main Xbox gaming executives now in leadership roles at Blizzard in as many months. Activision? Why blame them. It is called Activision Blizzard not just Activision. After the two companies merged most of the leadership that runs Activision Blizzard now are from Blizzard. So, if anything you can blame the suits from the original Blizzard.
  • Maybe I jumped the gun on who to blame. I'll be honest I don't know to much about the merge. Other than Bungie got destroyed when they joined them. Even Marty one of the greatest Musicians in gaming ever got hustled out of Bungie. There is no way that would have happened if Bungie were I dependant. And Blizzard games have been getting worse and worse ever since the merger. And so has the practices of Blizzard games and services. All of it is really sad. Really really sad.
  • Personally I would get bored working on the same franchise, doing the same thing over and over... Sequels after sequels after sequels...
    I'm guessing he is moving to see new things.
  • That's all the gaming industry is. Unless you look at indie's.
  • Not really some studio work on different projects, different franchise. We've seen recently with Guerrilla moving from an FPS to an open world action RPG, Sucker Punch or even Naughty Dogs doing uncharted and TLOU.
    Or studios like Remedy, Insomniac, Quantic Dreams...
  • Naughty Dog make the same games, just because they have two separate IP's doesn't mean the games play any different, they have a style and they do it ridiculously well. Similar to Remedy, they have their style and they stick to it, although Control branches out by offering a more open world than their previous games. It's actually quite rare for an individual studio to do a variety of completely different games, it's not unheard of, but it's not common. Sucker Punch is Infamous and previously Sly Cooper. It'll be interesting to see what Ghosts of Tsushima is like though. This isn't a criticism I might add, it's completely natural, just like films, music, art, etc. Basically any form of expression people have what they enjoy doing and they continue to do it.
  • When I talk about variety I talk about variety in projects. Uncharted and TLOU may be third person view with similarities but they are quite different.
    Alan wake is quite different from QB. QB had movie scenes and had a much more developped story. Control like you said is an open world which can have the creepy feels that had Alan Wake. I think the point is different projects even if there are similarities is better than doing mindless sequels.
    I'm also talking as a dev. I've done projects in various languages and environments. I've been working in the same sector for quite some time now, but the only thing that drives me on is new projects new difficulties and solutions to be developed. Monotony isn't solething software developer enjoys. But doing similar products again and again is more profitable for publishers... I know a lot of the industry is like that and that's quite sad.
  • And yet, squirrels (hehe, squirrels, I meant sequels) can't be different? Look at the Castlevania series? There is a vast assortment of different styles to those games, but by your logic the developers most be burned out by "sequel after sequel". Even though the original developers when given the opportunity to make a new game (Bloodstained) they choose the exact same style that they were accustomed to. It sounds to me like you are imagining a narrative to suit your position, not actually looking at game development objectively. Oh, and Quantic Dreams is the epitome of a game developer that has a single idea and just runs with it ad nauseum, they're Telltale with prettier graphics. I mean, I actually really enjoyed Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls, but the games play identically. I imagine Detroit is exactly the same.
  • That exact thing is what they do at Blizzard. And until very recently they only had a couple of franchises and focused on WoW
  • So he'll change after some years I guess.
    It was the team at Sucker Punch that pitched and wanted to go for the whole new direction after Infamous.
    I wish studios are given total freedom to do what they want to do. I'm guessing "more of the same" type of sequels isn't what studios and devs love doing the most...
  • I'm not sure that's why he's moving. After all it was Rods Idea to change the name to The Coalition. He in fsct was instrumental at making thr new studio. And specifically wanted to work on Gears. Which is why he broke from under Epic to do so. He also is on record as saying The Coalition can work on whatever they want. But the team chose to finish another Gears trilogy. I'd bet my house atlfter 6 is done they make a new franchise.
  • I'm glad he'll help Blizzard since they're on fire right now. However, I want someone new with new ideas to take over Gears of War. I'm tired of the same old and want a proper open world.
  • Well.. at least he'll be working on relevant IPs now?
  • Yeah like the poorly received Diablo 3 and the absolutely amazing work Blizzard did with War craft 3 Reforged. Lol. Blizzard aren't even Blizzard anymore. The company we used to love now makes absolute tosh. And squeezes money from their fanbase.