It looks like there may be some truth to the hot rumor that Brothers in Arms developer Gearbox will be taking on the responsibility of developing Halo 4.
Joystiq first reported the rumor, uncovered by Official Xbox Magazine in the wake of comments by Gearbox President and CEO Randy Pitchford, who claimed in February that the company's new project was big. "Look at our lineup and imagine something even bigger kind of big," he said, although naturally, he refused to offer any details beyond "big."
Original Halo developer Bungie split from Microsoft in October 2007, and while studio head Harold Ryan said Bungie hoped to continue its relationship with Microsoft "through Halo and beyond," the company has also expressed interest in developing new IPs, and ownership of the Halo franchise actually remained in the hands of Microsoft.
Variety's Cut Scene blog has now added some fuel to the Halo 4 fire, reporting that a source "close to Gearbox" has confirmed discussions about the game's development have "definitely" taken place between Microsoft and Gearbox, although at this point no deal has been struck. And since Gearbox already has some experience with the Halo franchise, having worked with Bungie on the PC version of Halo: Combat Evolved, it's something of a natural fit.
So while nothing is carved in stone, the possibility of Gearbox taking over the Halo reins appears very real; and in the end, I'm sure the prestige (not the mention the money) that would come with picking up the development of such a storied series would be difficult for any developer to resist. "When you find out what this is, you'll likely agree that I can't oversell this one," Pitchford claimed. Time, and hopefully not too much of it, will tell.