Footage from a PlayStation 3 running Gears of War 3 has emerged online, after self-described former hacker PixelButts got his hands on an early build of the game and uploaded a full playthrough of the game. It’s not the first time that Gears of War 3 has been shown running on PS3, but this build has been confirmed to come from Epic themselves, so why does it exist?
The first showing of Gears of War 3 running on PS3 came back in 2017, stemming from a hack of Epic’s servers all the way back in 2011 that had leaked in development builds of the game for Xbox 360. That was then ported across to the PS3 by people who hacked the source code and recreated it for Sony’s console.
The difference on this occasion, as asserted by PixelButts, is that this build came from Epic themselves. The build is dated 19th May 2011 – the video uploaded on its 9th anniversary – running on a PS3 Devkit which had additional RAM compared to retail units. Little has been done to make this native to the system, with Xbox buttons shown on screen. It’s also really quite poorly optimised.
But why would this even exist? Were Epic considering taking the series cross-platform? Well, while there could be some grand mystery surrounding this, the simple fact of the matter is that this was a test by Epic Games. An Epic representative issued a statement to Kotaku simply stating:
“This footage is a byproduct of Epic’s internal Unreal Engine 3 testing process, which utilized both Gears and Unreal Tournament, and was never part of any actual product work for PlayStation 3.”
So no, a PlayStation 3 release of Gears of War 3 was never truly on the cards, especially given how the game was funded and published. The Gears of War franchise was created by Epic Games exclusively for Xbox 360, with Microsoft publishing and funding its development. That partnership lasted through until the release of Gears of War: Judgement in 2013, with Epic owning the IP throughout. However, for the game series to come to another platform in Epic’s pre-Fortnite days, it would have required another publisher to step in and acquire the rights from Microsoft, similar to when EA purchased BioWare and turned Mass Effect into a cross-platform series.
This all makes this Gears of War 3 PS3 build a one off curiosity, the company simply using the assets and game data on hand at a time when they had no games being actively developed for Sony’s console – the only other title they could have used would be People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm.
Certainly, there’s no chance that more recent Gears of War games have PlayStation builds. While Epic considered developing Gears of War 4, they ultimately decided to sell the franchise to Microsoft, who then founded The Coalition to continue the series on Xbox One as a first party franchise.