Fergusson had worked on Gears since it was still an Epic Games franchise. He started at Epic in 2005, and then went over to Microsoft when it bought the Gears franchise in 2014 to lead the new studio in charge of the series, The Coalition. Its latest release, Gears 5, came out in 2019.
Starting in March, I will join Blizzard to oversee the Diablo franchise. Leaving is bittersweet as I love our Gears family, the fans, and everyone at The Coalition and Xbox. Thank you, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with you all. pic.twitter.com/0FuO3RFYSQ
— Rod Fergusson (@GearsViking) February 5, 2020
Diablo is going to be one of Blizzard’s most important, if not the most important, franchise for the next few years. The studio is working on both Diablo IV for PC and consoles along with Diablo: Immortal for mobile. You can see why Blizzard would desire a veteran game developer like Fergusson to lead the franchise.
And Blizzard needs strong leadership. In recent years, major figures at the company has left, including former president Michael Morhaime and charismatic Hearthstone lead Ben Brode. On top of that, Blizzard has been finding itself stumbling into one bad moment into another. In 2019, it was surrounded by controversy after punishing a Hearthstone pro player for speaking up about the Hong Kong riots. More recently, Warcraft III: Reforged‘s release has been met with more criticism than fanfare.
Blizzard is trying to turn the story around with an upcoming slate of major new games, including Diablo IV and Overwatch 2. But it’s clear that Diablo IV needs to be a big hit, and it’ll be Fergusson’s job to make that happen. He has a reputation in the industry as a closer, someone who specializes in helping troubled or ambitious projects reach the finish line. So even though Fergusson is coming in a bit late into Diablo IV’s development, his hiring makes sense.