Gears of War 3 Dents Call of Duty's Xbox Live Dominance, Doesn't Beat It

Gears of War 3 was the second most popular game on Xbox Live on the week it launched, topping Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 but failing to unseat the 10-month-old Call of Duty: Black Ops.

The rankings for the week starting September 19 were posted by official Xbox Live spokesperson Major Nelson and track unique users, the raw number of Xbox Live players who have played a given game that week. The ranked list of 20 most-played games on Xbox LIve for that week included four Call of Duty games, as well as sports games, Grand Theft Auto IV and other. Gears of War 3, a new entrant, debuted in the number two position. It had launched on September 20.

The folks at Epic Games have not hid their desire to make Gears an online gaming juggernaut, expanding the series' competitive and co-op multiplayer options with September's Gears of War 3. They were successful enough to knock the two-year-old MW2 down a slot. But Black Ops, owned by more millions of people than the Gears of War 3 (we're talking well over 10 million compared to three million and counting for Gears 3), still reigns.

Black Ops and MW2 have been the top two games as recently as late August and tend to dominate these regular lists posted by Major Nelson.

Black Ops was probably helped during Gears' launch week not just by its much bigger player base but by its creators' continued support of new content. The latest multipalyer expansion to that game released just last month, August 23, keeping that game's online fresh well past the point when most shooters stop getting new stuff for gamers to play with.

People used to compare Call of Duty"s spot on Major Nelson's chart with the still-strong Halo games and a comparison to the upcoming anti-CoD, Battlefield 3 is guaranteed. But Gears has made its first strike. In this realm it's the underdog. Can it make it to the top?

LIVE Activity for week of September 19th [Major Nelson]