Rumor: Halo 4 Developed by Brothers in Arms Creator Gearbox, Launching Alongside Xbox 720 (Updated)

Update: Gearbox Software has been approached by Microsoft to make a new Halo game, according to Variety.

"Gearbox has definitely had conversations with Microsoft about doing a new 'Halo' game and is very excited at the prospect," says writer Ben Fritz, relaying a conversation with an anonymous source "close to Gearbox."

Original Story: Halo 4 is in development at Gearbox Software and will launch alongside the Xbox 720, going by a rumor in the latest issue of Official Xbox Magazine, as relayed by Joystiq.

Gearbox, which helmed the PC port of the first Halo and is wrapping up the WWII shooter Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway (PC, PS3, 360) and the maraca-shaking music game Samba de Amigo (Wii), recently teased it was working on a "big" project.

"It's big. It's, like, look-at-our-line-up-and-imagine-something-even-bigger kind of big," Gearbox president Randy Pitchford wrote on the company's forum back in February. "When you find out what this is, you'll likely agree that I can't oversell this one."

Looking ahead, Gearbox's future lineup includes the shooter Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC, PS3, 360) and the Diablo-like shooter-RPG Borderlands (PC, PS3, 360).

Halo creator Bungie is known to be developing a new game in the sci-fi shooter series, though no details have emerged. Two other Halo titles, Ensemble's RTS effort Halo Wars (360) and a project from Peter Jackson, are in development as well.

Following Bungie's departure from Microsoft last year, Microsoft retained ownership of the Halo property--arguably the biggest and most popular Xbox-exclusive series. At the time, both companies were said to be "focused on the continued success of the 'Halo' franchise."

Meanwhile, the next Xbox--often referred to as the Xbox 720--is expected to arrive in 2012, according to major industry figures.