Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

Epic Games is promising a “kicka[–] beta” and on-time delivery for “Gears of War 3,” but the brave talk hides what was a disappointing weekend for the Cary-based video game company.

The Video Game Awards show on Saturday will NOT go down as one of the best days for Epic even though its new “Infinity Sword” broke sales records at Apple’s App Store last week.

A hotly hyped announcement about the forthcoming “Gears of War 3” was not made Saturday, overshadowing the Infinity news and triggering questions about what’s going on with Epic’s multi-million selling franchise.

Making matters worse, Gears was NOT selected as the most hotly anticipated game for 2011, although it was one of the finalists.

 Epic’s creative driving force Cliff Bleszinski Tweeted live from the show, “(*Knew* Portal 2 would get this one. Darnit! Curse you Gaaaaaaabe! :)”

Before the event, Bleszinski promised in a YouTube video that Epic would show off some “awesome” new game play. He assured gamers that they would “love” what was to be showcased.

“The Spike Video Game Awards bring you news on the future of Gears of War! Tune in Saturday, December 11th at 8pm ET/5pm PT for the full details!” ran another promo.

“Sorry!” tweets Bleszinski

Then just before the show on Saturday came word from Microsoft Xbox – the publisher of the award-winning Gears franchise – that there would be NO news.

In a curt blog post, Major Nelson, which is the the Xbox Live “gamertag” of Larry Hryb, Xbox Live Director of Programming, wrote:

“I have just learned of a decision to postpone our planned Gears of War news from Epic Games for the Spike Video Game Awards this weekend. I wanted to share this with you and let you know that while these are never easy decisions, we can tell you that what we have to share for the franchise in 2011 will definitely be worth the wait and we look forward to working with our partner at Spike on sharing this world premier news when it is ready.”

Saturday night, Bleszinski “tweeted” live from the VGA show numerous shot messages, including:

“Y’all know we’re not announcing anything tonight, right? Sorry!”

In two earlier tweets, he acknowledged the cancellation:

“I appreciate everyone’s patience. I’m flattered that people are upset about an announcement about something that was so vague. Have faith!”

And “JROG69: make an announcement without the word delay in it!next you’ll delay the delay announcement” Hah, I know, I don’t like it either.”

Well before the show, Bleszinki has denied through his Tweeter account that Epic would link the Xbox hands-off controller “Kinect” to Gears. But that rumor persisted with some gamers expecting a possible spinoff for Gears using Kinect being announced.

So what was to be revealed?

Not even a new trailer made the show. And game companies love to use the VGA program to tout their forthcoming releases.

Epic: Game is “coming along amazingly well”

Worried fans wondered if Gears being delayed. After all, it’s already been pushed back from March to holiday 2011 release.

In comments related to Local Tech Wire by Epic’s public relations agency, Epic media executive Dana Cowley “wants to emphasize that there is no delay.”

“The game is coming along amazingly well, and while they were really looking forward to sharing some Gears news with everyone at the VGA’s, [Epic] remain[s] focused on giving everyone a truly kicka[–] beta and making Gears 3 the absolute best game in the series ever,” Cowley added.

Cowley also said Epic was communicating with Gears fans through online forums, adding that “Epic will gladly engage with community members who ask appropriate questions and voice their concerns in an appropriate manner.”

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