Microsoft has bought the rights to the Gears of War video game franchise and plans to develop it at Vancouver-based Black Tusk Studios.

The Xbox maker said Monday that it bought the rights to all existing and future games and merchandise from Epic Games.

Epic Games has been working with Microsoft for 10 years to develop Gears of War for Xbox and has sold 22 million units to Xbox users worldwide, grossing over $1 billion.

Rod Fergusson, a former director of production at Epic Games on Gears of War, will join Microsoft to help lead development of the franchise at Black Tusk.

'Part of the soul of Xbox'

Black Tusk Studios, formerly Microsoft Vancouver, was opened in November 2012 to develop triple-A games, the video game equivalent of a blockbuster movie.

Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer said the relatively new studio has a “world-class team” prepared to take on Gears of War.

“The Gears of War franchise has a very strong, passionate and valued fan base on Xbox,” said Spencer in a press release.

"This franchise, and these fans, are part of the soul of Xbox. By acquiring this franchise, Microsoft Studios will continue to offer them more of their favorite games and entertainment experiences from the Gears of War universe."

He gave no timeline for developing new versions of the game.