The Coalition
  • Zipline Studios
  • (2010–2011)
  • Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver
  • (2011–2012)
  • Black Tusk Studios
  • (2012–2015)
IndustryVideo games
FoundedFebruary 2010; 12 years ago (2010-02)
Key people
Mike Crump (studio head)
ProductsGears of War series (2014–present)
Number of employees
200[1] (2015)
ParentXbox Game Studios

The Coalition (formerly Zipline Studios, Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver and Black Tusk Studios) is a Canadian video game developer and a studio of Xbox Game Studios based in Vancouver. The Coalition is best known for developing games in the Gears of War series after the franchise's acquisition by Xbox Game Studios from Epic Games.[2]


The studio was formed in February 2010 as Zipline Studios, and under that name developed the Facebook game Relic Rescue.[3] In May 2011, the studio was renamed Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver as it shifted its focus away from social games, instead working on Microsoft Flight and Kinect shooter game Project Columbia.[4][5] On July 25, 2012, Project Columbia and further development on Microsoft Flight were cancelled, with all 35 employees being laid off.[6] On November 29, 2012, the studio was renamed Black Tusk Studios, and tasked with creating a new major franchise for Microsoft Studios to rival their popular Halo franchise.[7]

On January 27, 2014, it was announced that Microsoft had acquired the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games, and that Black Tusk Studios would take on the development of future games in the series.[8][9] As part of the Gears of War acquisition, Microsoft also hired Rod Fergusson, who was the executive producer on the first three Gears of War games, to oversee development.[10] On June 3, 2015, Fergusson announced that Black Tusk Studios had been renamed The Coalition; similarly to Microsoft's Halo studio 343 Industries, the studio's name references an entity within the Gears of War franchise—the Coalition of Ordered Governments.[11]

Fergusson announced his departure as studio head in February 2020 to move over to Blizzard Entertainment to oversee the Diablo series.[12]

Games developed

Year Game Platform(s)
2011 Relic Rescue Facebook Platform
2012 Microsoft Flight Microsoft Windows
2015 Gears of War: Ultimate Edition Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
2016 Gears of War 4
2019 Gears 5 Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
2020 Gears Tactics



  1. ^ Gies, Arthur (July 28, 2015). "Beauty deconstructed: The state of Gears of War". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  2. ^ Makuch, Eddie (January 27, 2014). "Microsoft buys Gears of War from Epic". GameSpot. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  3. ^ Gamespot Staff (May 2, 2011). "Microsoft Vancouver staffing for AAA Kinect shooter". GameSpot. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  4. ^ McWhertor, Michael (May 2, 2011). "Kinect Getting Its Own Original 'Core' Shooter Thanks to New Microsoft Studio". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  5. ^ Lien, Tracey (January 28, 2014). "The mystery of Black Tusk's 'next big entertainment franchise'". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Schreier, Jason (July 25, 2012). "Microsoft Reportedly Shuts Down Vancouver-Based Studio [UPDATE: Projects Cancelled]". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  7. ^ Hafer, T.J. (November 30, 2012). "Microsoft's new Black Tusk Studios, headed by ex-EA devs, looking to make the next Halo". PC Gamer. Future US. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  8. ^ Good, Owen (January 27, 2014). "Microsoft Snags Gears of War". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  9. ^ McWhertor, Michael (January 27, 2014). "Microsoft acquires Gears of War from Epic, hires series producer Rod Fergusson". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  10. ^ Crecente, Brian (August 1, 2014). "The fixer: Why Rod Fergusson returned to Gears of War". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  11. ^ Nunneley, Stephany (June 3, 2015). "Gears of War studio Black Tusk Studios has been renamed The Coalition". VG247. Videogaming247. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  12. ^ Plunkett, Luke (February 5, 2020). "Gears Of Wars' Boss Leaving, Will Now Oversee Diablo". Kotaku. Retrieved February 5, 2020.