'Big' Gears of War announcement next week

Epic Games VP Mark Rein promises major news about highly anticipated Xbox 360 game soon; official fan-site kit also released.

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At the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2005, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates told Time Magazine that his company was planning a novel approach to blunt the launch of the PlayStation 3. "It's perfect," Gates told the magazine while "radiant with bloodlust." "The day Sony launches [the PS3], and they walk right into Halo 3."

A year later, though, Gates made his first-ever appearance at E3 to help unveil the first Halo 3 trailer--a trailer which revealed the game wouldn't be out until 2007, months after the PS3's November 17, 2006, launch date.

This week, a new theory began circulating that Microsoft will time the release of another top Xbox 360 game to trip up the PS3's launch. The source of the hypothesis is a cryptic post on the Gears of War forums from Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games.

Though his one-sentence post only says "BIG announcement coming next week! :)" (emphasis in the original), many assume that the developer will reveal the final release date for the eagerly awaited horror shooter. Since Microsoft launched the Xbox, Xbox 360, and both Halo games in mid-November, many assume that Gears of War will hit stores then, especially now that the PS3 is going on sale during the time frame.

But while the Gears of War ship-date-announcement theory is an appealing rumor, it remains just that--a rumor. Rein had not responded to GameSpot's requests for clarification of his comments as of press time, although he did tease those who posted responses in his forum thread. "Sounds like maybe the announcement that is going to be made isn't what you think it is," he told one poster who implied it would be about the release date. This, in turn, spawned a second theory--that the announcement will be for a Gears of War demo on Xbox Live.

Meanwhile, in official Gears of War news, Epic and Microsoft Game Studios have released the first official fan-site kit for the game. Available on the official Gears of War Web site, the 102MB download features desktop wallpaper, forum avatar icons, and other items which sport artwork from the title.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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