Tomorrow John Schappert, Microsoft Veep of Live, Software and Services, will be taking the stage to deliver the first keynote for the Game Developers Conference proper.
While in the past, GDC hasn't been a place for announcements, that changed in 2006 when Sony rolled out such doozies as Home and LittleBigPlanet to an audience of mostly game developers. This year expectations are high that Microsoft will be making some sort of announcements of their own.
On paper the keynote is about how Microsoft plans to tap into a "wellspring of talent and innovation from the broader development community" but we'd be surprised if they didn't use their time on stage to also drop a little bomb or two. Hit the jump for our best guesses.
Gears of War 2: This has almost moved beyond rumour and become fact. Word of some possible Gears 2 announcement has been making the round for weeks now. The question has almost become not if they will be announcing the sequel to the amazing Epic shooter, but who will be working on it. (Our money's on former EA Chicago head Kudo Tsunoda) We expect to hear both bits of news at the keynote in the morning.
Live Anywhere: Despite the fact that they have the stage to themselves, Microsoft (like Sony last year) still probably feels it's necessary to somehow tie the announcement of a big triple-A title to something relevant to the conference. Our money is on Live Anywhere. Earlier today in his Casual Games keynote, Chris Early talked about how neat it would be to play the casual "flow game" from Bioshock while standing in line at the bank and then go back home and use his plays in the game to unlock stuff, making his brief bit of casual play matter in a bigger game. That, to me, sounds like it could be the long-ago announced and nearly forgotten mobile implementation of Live Anywhere... perhaps tied to big games like Bioshock (which already has a mobile game in the works) and Gears of War 2.
XNA Arcade: Obviously something has to be said about Microsoft's casual game development tool, XNA. They even have an area in their XNA space at GDC still underwraps until 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. (Right after the keynote). Our money is on Microsoft unveiling a broader distribution model for XNA produced games, like, perhaps, a new blade on Xbox Live.