Gears maps: pay now, free later

Upcoming multiplayer maps for Epic Games' Gears of War will be available for "reasonable price" initially, free "a few months later."

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In late 2006, those who believe that all downloadable content for the Xbox 360 should be free thought they had found the perfect spokespeople in Epic Games. At the Spike TV Video Game Awards, where Gears of War had just scooped up four awards, Epic president Mike Capps said, "We always take care of our customers, we always give them stuff for free, and we're going to keep doing that forever. That's how we do it. This is Epic."

Unfortunately, it appears that it isn't just Epic who calls the shots. Speaking on the 1up podcast, Epic vice president Mark Rein and CEO Tim Sweeney dropped the bomb that upcoming map packs for the shooter actually won't be free...at first.

This caused a bit of an uproar among Gearheads, who took to the forums at EvilAvatar to voice their displeasure. Rein responded to put out the fires, clarifying that the map packs would follow a similar business model used with the bonus multiplayer maps released for Halo 2.

"Epic thinks the way to maximize the return on Gears of War is to give the maps away for free and Microsoft thinks the way to maximize the return on Gears of War is to sell the maps," said Rein. "So what we've agreed to do is to put these maps on sale at a reasonable price then make them free a few months later. They did this with the original Halo2 map pack and it was a huge success. Lots of people bought the maps and lots of people downloaded them when they became free. That's what is going to happen and it seems like a fair compromise for both companies and a win-win for Gears players."

Rein also said that the next map pack will feature four multiplayer maps, but was unable to give a price or release period for the download. A Gears of War update, which adds the new Annex gametype, will be available for free later this afternoon.

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