Microsoft Game Studios and Epic Games have announced that Gears of War 3 is being pushed back from its original spring 2011 release window.

“Gears of War 3 promises to be the biggest entertainment launch of 2011," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "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.”

Aside from the initial disappointment that fans may be experiencing, there's a lingering question: What is going on over at Microsoft Game Studios? In the past, Gears of War and Halo have generally leap-frogged each other in back-to-back holiday seasons, with each anchoring the publisher's lineup. Moving Gears of War 3 to a spring release practically ensured that it would own the season's sales, but likely at the expense of the all-important back end of the year. Without any obvious titles to fall back on, Microsoft's late 2011 roster is a mystery.

Microsoft's timing explanation aside, we've seen the game enough to get a sense that Microsoft is telling the truth and the game isn't being delayed because of quality reasons.

It's clear that the company is making a big push for Kinect this holiday season, and they probably wanted to focus marketing muscle (and budget) on that platform for the near future. It's unlikely that we'll see a new Halo game in late 2011 (the first not developed by Bungie), just as it's unlikely that new Fable, Alan Wake, or Viva Pinata installments are in the works for that timeline – if at all. Furthermore, with the end of exclusivity for games like BioWare's Mass Effect 2, it's not likely that the system's upcoming slate will be bolstered by any third-party games only on the 360.

What else is there? Turn 10's followup to Forza 3 is a safe bet, as is another installment of Lips. Aside from that, the publisher is going to have to come up with some exciting new IP or the holiday is essentially now on Gears of War 3's back. That is, unless Fuzion Frenzy Kinect is incoming. Let's all hope not, for the sake of everyone.