Gears spins up XBL use by 80 percent

Independent research group cites Epic Games' Gears of War as reason for spike in activity on Microsoft's online service.

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Gears of War has long been hyped as the holiday title to get for the Xbox 360, and so far critics' reviews agree. It's no surprise, then, that the sci-fi shooter, which was released in mid-November, has already sold more than 1 million copies and is a frontrunner for Game of the Year in many people's books.

The Epic Games-developed game also took a crown from the Xbox family's reigning king of sci-fi shooters, Halo 2, when it was recently revealed that the most-played game over Xbox Live was Gears of War. Previously, Halo 2 had owned Xbox Live, besting all other Xbox and Xbox 360 titles in online play.

With all the online fragging Gears is facilitating, it's no surprise that the game is bringing some dormant gamers out of the woodwork and onto Xbox Live. According to Sandvine Incorporated, a network traffic tracker, 80 percent more users were drawn to Xbox Live since Gears of War's first week of release.

"The effect Gears of War and other games are having on networks indicates to service providers that online gaming is not just a craze," said Sandvine CEO Dave Caputo.

Since the game went on sale November 7, the rate of Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, which are required for online play, has increased more than 50 percent.

While Sandvine only pointed out Gears of War by name, it did mention that other games released that week also aided in the spike in Xbox Live users. Also released that week for the Xbox 360 were Viva Piñata, Call of Duty 3, and Tony Hawk's Project 8--the latter two of which were also released on the original Xbox.

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