[UPDATE 11/27/2008] A title update has been released today to address the issues outlined below. Please see this thread for more information.
We're aware that some folks are experiencing longer-than-ideal wait times while using the skill-based Public matchmaking in Gears 2 multiplayer. We're working on some solutions but it's a complicated issue as there isn't any one problem; it's a combination of factors. Clearly, scale is one of them as we've had millions of successful matches played online so far, however a small percentage of players are having issues, which is unacceptable. We're working closely with Microsoft to address the matchmaking issues, I promise you that it is our #1 priority, and we hope to have an update soon.
In the meantime, I would like to suggest some workarounds:
If you're experiencing long delays (longer than 2 minutes) or you're seeing your matchmaking search restarting over and over again, please try a different playlist as that indicates a possible population issue with the currently selected one.
The problem seems to be heightened for parties of 1 and parties of 4 so please try to invite at least one friend into your party before matchmaking. And of course the fastest way to play is to have a full 5 person party before looking for a match since you won't have to find any teammates beforehand. Fortunately our new "What's Up" feature makes finding Friends who're playing Gears 2 online easier.
Also, after a match, if you'd like to continue to play with the 9 people you just played with, simply press Y to look at the previous match stats and press X to invite them all to your party so you can continue to play in a Private match if they accept. Private matches, while not arbitrated, gives you the flexibility to set exactly which map and mode you want to play along with customizing other aspects of the game.
And as always, please ensure that your router is set correctly so that your NAT is considered "Open" by Xbox LIVE as "Moderate" and "Strict" NATs make Xbox LIVE matchmaking more difficult. There are many guides available online to walk you through the process of correctly configuring your router for Xbox LIVE so I won't go into the specific details here.
Also, in case you're curious, a few interesting facts about Gears 2 multiplayer so far:
* Almost 3 million multiplayer matches (excluding Private) have been played.
* Almost 1 million screenshot photos have been uploaded to gearsofwar.com
* The most popular multiplayer mode is Horde.
* The most popular multiplayer map across all modes is River.
* The most lethal weapon is the Gnasher shotgun with almost 29% of all kills.
Again, I apologize for any issues you may be having and I hope the above workarounds give you a better experience until we are able to correct the issues we're seeing.
Gears of War 2
Last night, 3Suns was the first to get it due to Japan being practically a day ahead of North Americans. Zos, Infidel, JohnE, Suns, and myself were working on Horde (Insane) on the Jacinto map when Suns got kicked off of XBL. He returned to our party chat, but was unable to rejoin the actual game. After we defeated Wave 10, we jumped out to pick up Suns, but to our dismay he had an updated version of the game that prevented us from gaming together. JohnE called it a night and that's when people started freaking out! Did this mean that Japan was now region locked?!? Would we lose our beloved 3Suns to the decisions of MS?!? Everyone was trying to maintain calm, but we could all hear the anxiety from Suns' voice. To elevate the stress even more, Infidel was convinced that since we didn't get the update, the region locking might be a reality since people have been complaining about the inability to join Public matches and network latency in games with people around the world. After Suns went to restart his console, I told Infidel,"Hey, we need to chill out and remain calm for Suns because if this does happen to be true, Suns is going to break down and cry."
We tried everything from suggesting a cache clearance of game updates to having his son, Johann, start up his console and refuse the title update. No dice. About a half hour later, Zos got kicked off of XBL only to be prompted with the Gears 2 title update. Rejoice, Gearheads! All was well again in the Gears' universe. Afterwards, Infidel and I followed the same MO and received our updates. Man, we were really stressed out about the potentiality of losing the opportunity to game on Gears 2 with one of our most favorite Gearheads! The thought of Suns huddled in the corner of a shower weeping uncontrollably was too much to bear. Sheesh, what a way to start the four-day weekend for us! :P