Microsoft Sends Out Cogs to Ignite ‘Gears of War 2’

In a buzz-building effort, Microsoft Game Studios has mailed out about 1,000 metal cogs with unique codes that tie in with an alternate reality game to promote Gears of War 2.

The codes engraved on the cogs provide glimpses into the story, characters and events from the Gears of War universe. They were mailed out this month to “select members of the gaming and blogging community.” The codes are designed to correspond with Gearsofwar.com/lastday.

That site fills in the story arc between the two games and is told from the point of view of a robot. “It’s a survivor computer mechanism that we’re using as a documentarian, telling the story of the last six months,” said John Jakubowski, group creative director at AKQA, San Francisco, which handled the effort. TV, via McCann Erickson, San Francisco, also supports the game, which launches Nov. 7. The original Gears of War sold 4.7 million copies.

Such elaborate marketing is now becoming the norm for the category. Earlier this month, Electronic Arts launched a new game, Dead Space, with a campaign that included TV, an animated Web site and comic books.