Players all over–including Jimmy Fallon– were thrilled to hear that the next installment of the gritty sci-fi shooter series would be hitting stores in the spring of 2011. But, Microsoft’s taking the wind out of everyone’s sails by delaying Gears of War 3‘s launch to the fall of 2011. Representatives from Microsoft say that this is a business/scheduling decision and in no way reflects the state of development on the game. The official statement from Microsoft reads:
“Gears of War 3 promises to be the biggest entertainment launch of 2011. The teams at Microsoft Game Studios and Epic Games have done great work thus far readying the title for release in the Spring of 2011. However, we’ve elected to move the launch of Gears of War 3 until Fall 2011 to make it the marquee title for the holiday season.”
When I spoke to Design Director for Epic Games Cliff Bleszinski in April, the lead creator of the Gears games seemed psyched for the springtime release window:
At what stage of development are you for G3?
We’re a year out. At this point, the campaign is fully playable. A lot of the co-op and multiplayer features are coming online. Previously, for Gears 2, our tagline was “Bigger, Better, More Bad-Ass,” which got played out very quickly. The key messages for Gears 3 are that it will be the best-looking, most fun Gears to date but it’ll also be the most polished. And that’s the beauty of holding it off until April. Holiday [timeframe for releases] is still so jammed so it’s, like, let’s carve out our own window like Will Smith used to do with July 4th. Let’s call out our date and take the next year and just make a great game and polish it. Because the bar continues to be raised. There’s some amazing games out there, from Uncharted 2 to Modern Warfare, and we need to exceed that bar [from where they raised it].
(More on Techland: The Techland Interview: Cliff Bleszinski, Part 1)
Wonder how he feels now? With the future of Halo likely still in development, it stands to reason that Microsoft would use Gears to fill the slot last taken up by Bungie’s last Spartan-centric game. The Gears games have traditionally come out in the fall/holiday timeframe and the shift to an earlier spring release had energized the series’ considerable fan base. But, the most telling thing about this rescheduling may be the implication that there definitely won’t be a Halo game coming from 343 Industries next year. It doesn’t make much sense to expect one Halo game after another the way that Activision does with Call of Duty, but Microsoft execs have expressed a desire to have more frequent releases for Halo.
One thing’s for sure: with Gears of War 3 moving to fall 2011, the last part (supposedly) of Marcus Fenix’s story should look and play better than ever. We’re sure there will be lots of great games to pass the time with until players get to return to planet Sera.