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What We Heard: Things weren't looking too good for Melbourne-based Transmission Games after the news earlier this month that the developer had laid off 28 staff members after an unnamed publisher pulled support for one of the studio's titles.
Now news has surfaced that Transmission Games has shut down completely, with the remaining staff being made redundant.
News reports are claiming the studio has now gone into receivership, with an appointed administrator taking over.
The Official Story: Calls to the Transmission Games office and to the CEO, Mike Fegan, were not returned as of press time.
Bogus or Not Bogus?: A Transmission Games spokesperson has confirmed the reports are true.
[UPDATE]: GameSpot AU got in touch with Transmission Games, who confirmed that the studio has gone into voluntary liquidation. However, a Transmission Games spokesperon said the studio was not yet ready to make an official statement.
Stay tuned to GameSpot AU for more information as it comes to hand.
Source: The Australian Classification Board, which rates game software Down Under in advance of its full release.
What we heard: Much has been made of Splinter Cell: Conviction's MIA status, but Ubisoft's Ghost Recon franchise has been off the reservation for what's quickly becoming just as long. With 2007's acclaimed Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 being the most recent installment in the franchise, Ubisoft said in January that a new Ghost Recon would arrive by the end of March 2010. However, it didn't take long before the publisher pushed that game to its next fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2011.
However, it now looks as if Ghost Recon's delay may not follow the long and winding road of its Tom Clancy cousin. Yesterday, a listing for "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Predator" on multiple platforms appeared in the Australian Classification Board's online database.
Ghost Recon Predator received an MA 15+ rating from the Australian board, the strictest rating allowable before classification is refused and the game is banned. Australian's software rating board has developed a reputation for being notoriously strict with its ratings guidelines, having denied classification to a number of high-profile titles upon initial submission, including Left 4 Dead 2, Fallout 3, and F.E.A.R. 2. (Only films can reach the board's maximum R18+ rating.)
Beyond the subtitle, the Australian classification offers few clues as to the nature of Ubisoft's latest Ghost Recon effort. Thus far, the publisher has been mum on what gamers can expect from the new first-person shooter, saying only that it would not be a continuation of the Advanced Warfighter arc. The rating also did not specify which platforms Ghost Recon Predator would appear on.
Ubisoft had not responded to requests for comment on the Australian classification as of press time.
The official story: Ubisoft had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus, unless of course Ubisoft has a second new multiplatform Ghost Recon installment lurking somewhere in the shadows.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Hardware rumor-mongers got a twofer this week involving the next generation of Microsoft's Xbox console and Nintendo's DS handheld. The latter came courtesy of a report on hardware blog Bright Side News (BSN), which reported that Nvidia has landed the contract to provide the chipsets for the DS and DSi's as-yet-unannounced successor.
"According to our confidential sources, Nintendo is going to use Tegra System-on-Chip processor for the successor of DS/DSi handheld console," reported the site. Currently, the Tegra line powers a series of small computer and multimedia devices, including the just-released Zune HD, which will be getting 3D games later this year.
Reportedly, the graphics chip-maker offered the least complicated option for the next-gen DS. "Unlike the current design, Nvidia offered a single-chip proposal to Nintendo, a company famous for keeping the hardware platform absolutely simple." The current generation of DS Lites and DSi's use two ARM-architecture chips to handle both graphics and processing.
BSN expects the new DS to be unveiled at the 2010 Tokyo Game Show next fall, around the same time Microsoft is expected to launch the Xbox 360's motion-sensing system, Project Natal. However, it was the 360's successor that was the subject of another report involving Nvidia's archrival, AMD-owned ATI.
Tech blog Fudzilla is citing unnamed "industry sources" as confirming Microsoft has struck a deal with ATI to provide graphics processors (GPUs) for the next generation of Xboxes. The Canadian chip firm currently supplies the GPUs for both the Wii and Xbox 360, with Nvidia supplying Sony with the PlayStation 3's RSX graphics processor.
Fudzilla's sources also echo analysts, executives, and developers as saying the next generation of hardware won't arrive anytime soon. "The consoles refresh [sic] was supposed to happen in 2010 but due to the recession both Microsoft and Sony have decided to push its plans for 2012 [sic] and keep the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 alive for more than it was originally planned."
The official stories: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Microsoft rep.
"We don't comment on rumor or speculation." -- Nintendo spokesperson.
Bogus or not bogus?: Both sound plausible. Nintendo will be looking for higher-fidelity graphics for the next DS, and anyone who has seen a Zune HD knows what Tegra can provide them. As for the Xbox rumor, no one has blamed the 360's woes on ATI's GPU, instead pointing the finger at Microsoft's design choices. So having the software giant reenlist the hardware provider seems completely reasonable.
Source: A camera-equipped NeoGAF forum-user, operating under the handle goldsoundz.
What we heard: That Insomniac Games would be working on a new PlayStation 3 title isn't a particularly big shocker. After all, the Burbank, California-based independent developer has made its bones exclusively through Sony's PlayStation platforms from its inception, establishing such franchises as Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, and, most recently, Resistance.
In tandem with being named the fifth best place to work in California, Insomniac revealed in March that it had another PS3 exclusive in the works. And judging by a billboard emblazoned with "Resistance 3" spotted on a Shreveport, Louisiana, film set over the weekend by a NeoGAF forum-goer, it appears that said title will be a new installment in Insomniac's alternate-history first-person shooter series.
The billboard in question will purportedly appear in Battle: Los Angeles, which, belying its name, is set to begin filming this fall in the Shreveport-Baton Rouge area. While a release date for the film has yet to be confirmed, industry sources such as IMDB.com list the movie with an early 2011 premiere. Should this date hold true, the marketing campaign indicates that Resistance 3 will see release sometime during the first part of 2011.
Notably, the billboard also gives a small clue on the plot of the title. In the past, Insomniac has used the "A" in Resistance's titles to display a landmark from some pivotal location in the game. The original Resistance: Fall of Man featured London's Big Ben, while Resistance 2 showed San Francisco's Bay Bridge and Resistance: Retribution for the PSP displayed Paris' Eiffel Tower. As for Resistance 3, the A in the billboard clearly depicts the Statue of Liberty, indicating New York City will be a prominent locale.
The official story: "To date, we have made no official announcements regarding the Resistance franchise."--A Sony representative.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus. Insomniac's Resistance franchise has been a commercial and critical success for Sony, so it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the studio would return for a third console installment. However, considering that Resistance 2 shipped at the end of 2008, a 2011 release window seems a bit longer than a normal development cycle would call for.
Source: Game-info site Destructoid.
What we heard: Some 121 years after they were committed, the Jack the Ripper murders remain a subject of interest. One reason is that the case was never solved, despite a massive effort by London's Scotland Yard, then (and still) considered one of the best police forces in the world. Another reason was the grisly nature of the crimes, which saw at least five prostitutes horrifically mutilated with surgical skill.
While posterity will remember the Jack the Ripper case as a grotesque chapter of the Victorian Era, unconfirmed reports say a unique historical reimagining may be on the way--in game form. Following reports that Visceral Games, the internal Electronic Arts studio behind Dante's Inferno and the forthcoming Dead Space 2, was making a game based on the copyright-free Jack the Ripper scenario, Destructoid is claiming to have the first details on the project.
Surprisingly, the game will not have players hunt down Jack the Ripper--but will have them play him instead. The site cites unnamed sources as saying the Ripper character is in fact a Van Helsing-like "supernatural slayer protecting people from demons, vampires and other evil monsters." To do so, he'll have a variety of weapons and abilities, including being able to slow down time.
The official story: "We have nothing to offer at this time." -- An EA rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: Trademark filings prove that EA has the intent of doing something game- and Jack the Ripper-related. But whether that entails tearing the entrails out of demon-possessed prostitutes is another matter. The fact that the Grand Theft Auto series allows players to comically murder virtual hookers made it a moral whipping boy in the mainstream media. Given the gory nature of Visceral's titles, any celebration of one of history's most notorious serial killers might prove too controversial.
Source: Joystiq reports that Microsoft is looking into creating a virtual arcade for players' Avatar characters, citing a consumer survey sent in by a tipster.
What we heard: There isn't much to go on in the Joystiq report, aside from a couple of pictures of the supposed Avatar arcade and a question asking users to pick a name that would most encourage them "to purchase the product."
Fortunately, the pictures themselves offer some clues as to what's going on. They show a handful of Avatars standing at Atari-branded arcade cabinets, similar to the virtual game parlors in PlayStation Home. However, instead of containing joysticks and buttons, the control panels on each of the cabinets have been replaced by Atari 2600 machines. All but one of the marquees on the cabinets are unreadable, with the lone legible title being Baseball.
It isn't just Atari on display in the Avatar arcade, however. Partially obscured banners hanging from the wall suggest that Intellivision games like Shark! Shark! and Star Strike will also be available for play in the Avatar arcade. (A version of Star Strike was also released for the Atari 2600.)
Along the bottom of the screenshots are a series of nearly unreadable button prompts, apparently indicating that players will be able to customize their own arcades, change themes, and edit which machines are in the room.
The significance of an Avatar arcade is debatable. Even if everything in the Joystiq article is accurate, this could be something as mundane as a shell from which players can buy other games (like Hasbro Family Game Night), or as big as a virtual space for Avatars to congregate, Microsoft's answer to PlayStation Home.
The official story: An inquiry to Atari wasn't returned as of press time, but a Microsoft rep said the company "can't comment on rumor or speculation."
Bogus or not bogus?: Looks a little complex to be completely bogus. The fact that Sony is already doing something in Home provides motivation for the move, as does the chance to remonetize old Atari 2600 games. (With its listing revenues, the publisher could use the cash.) And with Microsoft already selling Avatar toys, a virtual arcade would be a logical next step down microstransaction lane.
Source: The ever-popular Internet Movie Database.
What we heard: Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft universe is nothing if not sprawling, thanks to some 15 years of storyline development across games and novels. The developer's expansive narrative tradition offers a plethora of options for the upcoming movie set in the Warcraft universe. However, as of August's BlizzCon 2009, director Sam Raimi had not announced any details about what parts of Blizzard lore would be the foundation for his film's script.
Now, though, it appears as if details on the Legendary Pictures-backed production have slipped out, courtesy of popular online movie database IMDB. According to the silver-screen depository, the upcoming Warcraft film now bears the subtitle "The Rise of the Lich King," indicating it will draw from the same source material as 2008's best-selling World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King.
The Lich King has proven to be fertile source material for Blizzard. Aside from the WOW expansion, the story of the Lich King was handled in Christie Golden's novel Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, which was named to the New York Times' Best-seller list within a week of going on sale earlier this year.
As its title implies, the novel tells an expanded version of the human storyline seen in Blizzard's 2002 real-time strategy game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and the Wrath of the Lich King WOW expansion. It sees the benevolent paladin prince Arthas Menethil corrupted by the runeblade Frostmourne and turned into an undead lord of unspeakable evil.
One other point of interest from the IMDB listing, Warcraft: The Rise of the Lich King now bears an expected release date of 2011. As part of BlizzCon 2007, Legendary CEO Thomas Tull said that the film would be live-action with a $100 million budget and would be out by 2009--a release date it obviously missed.
The official story: Blizzard Entertainment had not returned requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: While often trusted by industry professionals, IMDB is far from a reliable source, given that information can easily be added to the database without a thorough vetting of the material. As such, bogus that anything is official, though the Lich King storyline does seem to be working out pretty well for Blizzard. The critically hailed expansion sold over 2.8 million copies worldwide in less than 24 hours when it launched last November. As of the end of August, it had sold nearly 2 million units in the US alone.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Sony's decision to remove the UMD disc media reader from the PSP Go has provoked its fair share of controversy. On the one hand, by eliminating the UMD drive, Sony was able to substantially reduce the size of its device, as well as improve battery life, among other enhancements. However, without the drive, PSP Go purchasers will be unable to use their previously purchased PSP games, and they won't be able to rent new games, either.
While Sony has stated that it does not plan on offering a way for gamers to digitize their PSP libraries, the publisher may be cooking up a solution for those looking to rent PSP games. First spotted by gaming blog The Retail Gamer and confirmed by GameSpot, Sony has added "Starts," "Expires," and "Hours Left" options to the information pane within games (pictured, top).
Notably, Sony floated just such an idea earlier this year. In May, a confidential Web survey surfaced online indicating that Sony was considering a subscription service that would let gamers rent PSP games. "The service will enable you to download a fixed number of games during your subscription period...[which] might renew weekly, monthly, or for some other time period," read the document.
Further, the menu fields are identical to those found in PlayStation Store video content (pictured, bottom), which can be purchased or rented through the PlayStation Network. With video content rentals, the start date is generated at the time of purchase and gamers have two weeks to watch the content before it expires. However, once a piece of content is activated, gamers only have a 24-hour window before the content expires.
The official story: Sony had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus.
Source: An interview with Lionhead Studios head Peter Molyneux by Dutch site GameKings.
What we heard: At its E3 2009 press briefing, Microsoft revealed that Lionhead was working on Milo, a simulation game that uses the motion--and emotion--sensing qualities of Project Natal. Two months later at GamesCom in Germany, Molyneux took the wraps off Fable III, another Xbox 360 exclusive from the Microsoft-owned, UK-based studio.
Given Molyneux's involvement with both Fable III and Natal, it stands to reason that the former might feature some connectivity with the latter. However, the GameKings interviewer expressed regret at having read that the game wouldn't be using Natal. The journalist said he felt it would be ideal for Fable III's gameplay, which casts players as a king passing judgment on subjects.
After joking about how talking about Natal projects could get him assassinated, Molyneux clarified things. "Let me get one thing straight. I have not said that we are not going to have Natal in Fable III." [Emphasis added.]
Then, motioning as though he were holding a 360 controller, Molyneux continued: "All I've really said is that it's a controller experience, but that doesn't mean there isn't going to be any Natal. Do you really think, knowing me, as maybe you do over the years, that I wouldn't want to use something like Natal?! I mean, that's just mad, man!"
The official story: Microsoft did not respond to requests for clarification as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Probably not bogus. Microsoft would love to have a first-party game of Fable III's stature use Natal in order to spur sales when it launches next year. And, by his own account, Molyneux wants to use the technology.
However, it may be a while until the public learns anything concrete. Before being asked about Natal, Molyneux bragged about how much he hasn't said about Fable III. "I haven't even told you what we're doing on the gameplay side," boasted the veteran developer. "My trick with the press is to leave the most exciting thing for later. There's plenty of gameplay stuff coming."
Source: UK industry news site GamesIndustry.biz.
What we heard: Having already rocked over $2 billion out of Guitar Hero, Activision is expanding its rhythm game empire into other musical genres. On October 27, it will go after hip-hop, techno, and club-music fans' dollars with DJ Hero, a turntable-peripheral based title from its UK-based studio, FreeStyle Games. In development for the Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 2, the game will feature such prominent acts as Daft Punk, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, J.Period, Z-Trip, Grandmaster Flash, and the late DJ AM. (The game will also feature emcees Eminem and Jay-Z.)
Though it remains to be seen how many consumers will plunk down $120 for the standard edition of DJ Hero--let alone $200 for the renegade edition--a sequel is apparently already in the works. GI.biz sources claim that "at least one independent UK games developer is already liaising with Activision's FreeStyleGames on DJ Hero 2."
GI.biz also reports that groundbreaking turntablist DJ Qbert has "been approached" to be in the sequel. In the 1990s, DJ Qbert (real name Richard Quitevis) was a founding member of the San Francisco Bay Area group the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and was a three-time victor at the DMC World DJ Championship. If confirmed, it would be the third game appearance for Qbert, whose music was used in the original Tony Hawk's Underground, in which the DJ was also a playable character, and FreQuency, the 2001 PlayStation 2 rhythm title from original Guitar Hero developer Harmonix.
The official story: "Activision does not comment on rumors or speculation."--An Activision representative.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that a DJ Hero sequel is assured. According to the NPD Group, rhythm game genre revenues are down 46 percent through August 2009, meaning Activision will be looking at every opportunity to exploit--and re-exploit--any untapped markets. Whether DJ Qbert will be part of a future project, however, remains to be seen.
Source: See below.
What we heard: So far, 2009 has seen a drought of role-playing games, with fans of the genre subsisting on a steady stream of alternately tepidly and well-reviewed Fallout 3 expansions. All that was to change in October, though, when three high-profile RPGs were set to launch: BioWare's dark fantasy Dragon Age: Origins, Obsidian Entertainment's espionage RPG Alpha Protocol, and Gearbox's cheeky, postapocalyptic "role-playing shooter" Borderlands.
Now, following the delay of Dragon Age to November, another of the October 2009 RPG trinity appears to have slipped--all the way until next year. GameStop is now listing Alpha Protocol as shipping on June 1, 2010. Meanwhile Amazon's Canadian store has it as arriving in North America on June 30, 2010. The date change comes just over one week before the game's October 6 launch date on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, which was announced in July. As recently as August 27, Obsidian staffers were saying the project was still on schedule.
The official story: Obsidian reps routed inquiries to Alpha Protocol's publisher, Sega, which had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Likely not bogus. Two unconnected retailers wouldn't shift the launch date of a game eight days before its release for no reason, and Sega's silence speaks volumes.
If the delay is made official, it would mark the second time that a Sega-published Obsidian game has seen its release plans overturned. The first, a role-playing game based on the Alien film series, was indefinitely delayed in February before being canceled outright in June.
Orange County-based Obsidian, created by Black Isle Studios veterans, is currently at work on Fallout: New Vegas for Bethesda Softworks. The game will use the same 3D engine as Fallout 3, the post-nuclear role-playing sequel to the original, isometric, turn-based Fallout games many Obsidian developers helped create in the late 1990s.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Last week, leaked retail flyers pointed to the Wii's price dropping to $200 the weekend of September 27. Today, further evidence of such a price drop has surfaced on Engadget. The tech blog has posted a screenshot purportedly of an internal Best Buy memo with the title "Wii Price Drop Coming."
"The Sept. 27 ad features the Wii on the back cover for $199.99. This is not a misprint; the new price will be effective on Sunday, Sept. 27," reads the memo. (Emphasis added.) If accurate, the timing of the price drop would emulate Nintendo's proclivity for launching products in North America on a Sunday, as it did with the DS in 2004 and the Wii in 2006.
"For now…please keep this quiet!" vainly implores the memo, before warning that, "Although this price drop has been mentioned in blogs, most people still do not know about this, so please don't discuss with customers until Nintendo makes their official announcement on Friday Sept. 25." (Emphasis in the original.)
The official story: "We don't have any information on this."-- Nintendo rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus. With the Xbox 360 Elite currently the same price as the Wii (after rebate) and Wii sales sliding several months in a row, Nintendo needs to do something. Throw in the fact the Wii hardware was profitable on day one--and doesn't have high-definition graphics--and Nintendo would be ill-advised not to cut its price.
[UPDATE] Surprise! The $200 Wii price is now official.
Source: Tech news site Ars Technica's retail mole.
What we heard: Many game-industry rumor-mongers are inconsistent. Not Ars Technica's retail mole. The well-placed source has presaged virtually every console price drop this year, from Sony unveiling the $300 PS3 Slim to Microsoft lopping $100 off the Xbox 360 Elite's former $400 cost.
Today, the mole struck again, telling Ars Technica that Microsoft is planning to introduce a new holiday bundle shortly after its current $50 Xbox 360 Elite rebate ends on October 5. He or she told the site that the new bundle will include two games: Warner Bros. and Traveller's Tales superhero adventure Lego Batman and Pure, a better-reviewed racer from Disney Interactive Studios' Black Rock Studio, formerly Climax Racing.
The official story: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation." Microsoft rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus. Besides the reliable track record of Ars' mole, Microsoft has a habit of bundling games with its console each holiday season. Last year, the company added Sega Superstars Tennis to $199 Arcade boxes while packing in Lego Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda in with the Elite and now-discontinued 60GB Pro models.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Rumor geysers are an elusive lot, making their eruptions all the more special. Today, perhaps the biggest of the year thus far made its presence known, when alleged minutes from a meeting between Sony Computer Entertainment America and Sega found their way online.
First spotted by French site Objectif-Sega, the information purportedly comes from Sega of America's press site, where it was ostensibly inadvertently uploaded. Before being removed from Objectif-Sega, the purportedly leaked info was reprinted on the NeoGAF message boards. The document notes that the meeting took place on August 5, meaning some of the purported information has already come to pass.
According to the minutes, the meeting began with Sony stating that a "big announcement" would occur during the back half of the year, one that has since revealed itself to be Sony's introduction of the PlayStation 3 Slim and concomitant $100 price cut. Interestingly, Sony then purportedly narrowed down the spring 2010 launch date of its new motion controller, saying it is expected to launch in Japan in March.
The alleged meeting then shifted to software, with perhaps the most notable reveal being that Sony intends to sell all PlayStation 2 titles through the PlayStation Network. There was apparently some discussion about bringing Dreamcast games to the PSN, with the minutes note stating, "If we provide a list of DC titles, SCEA will let us know which ones they're interested in having exclusively. If we give them a long period of exclusivity, they'll give us more marketing support."
A few other tidbits of information were contained in the document. Namely, Sega apparently intends to launch its latest PlatinumGames collaboration Bayonetta on January 5, with a possible demo coming sometime around Christmas. On the topic of Amusement Vision's gangster-themed action adventure Yakuza, the minutes mention that Japanese releases could be added to the PSN under "a special Japanese Import section," with price points ranging from $9.99 to $39.99.
Sega also allegedly floated the idea of issuing a Sonic Anniversary collection, which would see all previously released Sonic games being compiled on one Blu-ray Disc for "around $99."
The official story: Neither Sega nor Sony had responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: The document itself has an air of authenticity to it, if only because of its stuffy, corporate annotations. Further, the information contained in the document all seems entirely plausible, and in some cases, has already come to pass. Looking not bogus.
Source: UK gaming-news site GamesIndustry.biz.
What we heard: GRIN went on a tear in the lead-up to its closure in August, releasing Bionic Commando Rearmed, Wanted: Weapons of Fate, Terminator Salvation, and a Bionic Commando revamp over a period of 12 months. However, the one project that the Swedish studio seemed particularly keen on releasing ultimately never came to fruition. Though details on the project weren't revealed, GRIN characterized it as "our unreleased masterpiece that we weren't allowed to finish."
After the studio's implosion, a handful of unconfirmed reports indicated that the aforementioned "masterpiece" involved Square Enix's acclaimed Final Fantasy franchise. And according to a report today by UK news site GamesIndustry.biz, Square Enix has found a new studio to continue work on the spin-off title.
According to the UK site's sources, GRIN picked up the Final Fantasy game, operating under the code name Fortress, during the back half of 2008. However, Square Enix reportedly took the studio off of the title after six months of development time due to concerns over the game's quality.
GRIN's removal from the project was reportedly the primary reason why the studio collapsed in August. As noted by GI.biz, Swedish companies incur substantial fines if operating under a debt load, and since GRIN reportedly had no other projects in its development pipeline, the studio had no choice but to shut down. Indeed, at the time of its closure, GRIN said that the studio suffered from "an unbearable cash flow situation...as too many publishers have been delaying their payments."
Square Enix has made a significant push to attract Western gaming audiences, namely by purchasing British publisher Eidos, so it seems entirely plausible that the company would hire on GRIN. Square Enix also has precedence in handing over some of its internal franchises to outside developers. As part of the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the publisher announced that California-based Double Helix had been tapped to create a new installment in the Front Mission series.
The official story: Square Enix had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus. Square Enix is unlikely to simply shelve a new installment in its best-selling Final Fantasy franchise, even if GRIN's attempt didn't bear fruit. However, it will likely never be known how closely the game will resemble GRIN's reported effort, assuming it does eventually make it to market.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Speculation is mounting that Sony will soon reveal the 250GB PlayStation 3 it secretly tested with the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year. Reports out of Europe have said that, besides a potential DVR "movie" package, the supersized console will be bundled with one of several games: Gran Turismo 5, Assassin's Creed II, FIFA 10, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
Now, tech blog Engadget has published an image purportedly of the 250GB PS3 Uncharted 2 bundle, sans price. Besides looking convincing, the image bears the imprint of a T for Teen rating from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, which rates games for release only in the US and Canada. If authentic, the art would be the first indicator since the original FCC filing that the 250GB PS3 will be released in North America.
The official story: "As you know, we do not discuss speculative rumors." -- Sony Computer Entertainment America rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: While anything's possible with PhotoShop, the packaging looks legit, with screens from the game on the side and the logos in all the appropriate places. So if it's a fake, it's a well-crafted fake.
However, if the box is real, it begs the question--when will Sony unveil the 250GB Uncharted 2 bundle? Though Uncharted 2 doesn't come out until October 13, the most likely occasion is at next week's Tokyo Game Show, where Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai will give a keynote address tentatively titled "Sony Computer Entertainment 2009 Strategy". GameSpot will be live-blogging the event, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on September 24 Tokyo Time and 6:30 p.m. September 23 Pacific Daylight Time (US).
Source: Halo creator Bungie's official Web site.
What we heard: Though it declared independence from Microsoft in October 2007, Bungie has seemingly continued to operate as an internal studio of the influential publisher. Next week, the publisher will release its latest Xbox 360-exclusive installment in the Halo franchise--Halo 3: ODST--and Halo: Reach is planned for Microsoft's console in 2010. However, beyond Reach, Bungie has said that it "probably" won't be returning to its famed franchise.
In July, the studio said that it was close to landing a publishing deal for a new intellectual property. Last week, a potential indication of which publisher would be picking up the studio's newest game surfaced, when Bungie revealed that Mega Man creator and current Capcom head of researchand development and online business Keiji Inafune stopped by its Kirkland offices.
"Bungie is an amazing studio that has made incredible games," said Inafune as part of an interview the developer posted. "So I was always curious about how they made their games in hopes of being up to add some of the flavor into Capcom games. Also, I wanted to come down to Bungie in order to see just how well our philosophies on game design matched up. If things clicked, I know it would be interesting to collaborate together on a title in the future."
Tossing out further hints of a potential partnership, Inafune stated, "As I mentioned before, a Bungie-Capcom collaboration would certainly create something amazing as well…but I guess we'll have to see if the next twenty years holds something that special or not."
The official story: Neither Bungie nor Capcom had responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Though both Inafune and Bungie were ambiguous about the potential of a publishing deal, the implications behind the Capcom executive's visit cannot be ignored.
Source: Gaming blog Kotaku.
What we heard: During the month of August, the game news cycle was increasingly dominated by leaked retail flyers showing console price drops. Or, at least it was until Sony unveiled the $299 PlayStation 3 Slim on August 18 and Microsoft announced the $299 Xbox 360 Elite on August 26, confirming the leaks.
With the PS3 and 360 Elite now just $50 more than the Wii, analysts have been predicting that it isn't a question of if Nintendo will drop its console's price, but when it will. The answer to that question may have been solved today, when Kotaku reported it had obtained an advance copy of a Toys "R" Us flyer (pictured), which will be included in newspapers starting on Sunday, September 27. In the retailer's distinctive font, the flyer declares "Wii Price Cut! $199.99 (Was $249.99).
The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumor or speculation." - Nintendo rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: Though scans can easily be faked, Kotaku has a pretty consistent record of only publishing flyers from authentic sources. As such, this looks not bogus.
Source: British trade mag MCV.
What we heard: Last month, federal documents surfaced that revealed Sony had tested a 250GB version of the PlayStation 3 Slim. This month, reports out of Europe have indicated that the supersized console could go on sale as early as October via a variety of game bundles costing £299.99 ($500) or €350 ($510).
Now, yet another report from across the Atlantic is claiming to known exactly why Sony would put out a PS3 with over twice the memory of the 120GB Slim so close to the latter's launch. Citing sources at a "leading entertainment retailer," MCV claims that the 250GB PS3 will be unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show (Sept. 24-27). Furthermore, one configuration of the 250GB console is reportedly already being referred to as a "movie bundle" internally and will come with a Blu-ray movie and Bluetooth remote control.
The magazine then adds some of its own speculation, saying the bundle might "possibly [have] Sony's PlayTV attachment which turns [the] PS3 into a fully-functional Freeview TV recorder." (Emphasis added.) Available only in the EU, the PlayTV peripheral attaches a tuner to the PS3 and installs software that adds TiVo-like digital video recording (DVR) functionality to the console.
The official story: "We've never announced a 250GB PS3, so there is nothing I can say about this rumour." -- Sony Europe rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: While too thin for a firm call, a 250GB PS3 would have the exact same memory capacity HD TiVos currently come with. Another factor to consider is Sony's proclivity for experimenting with multimedia technology like PlayTV in the UK--while leaving other territories high and dry.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Last month, a flurry of retailer listings out of Europe spoiled the surprise of the PlayStation 3 Slim unveiling at GamesCom. Now, new reports from the EU are bolstering speculation that Sony may be readying a 250GB version of the currently 120GB console. A May filing with the Federal Communications Commission showed that Sony tested both a 120GB (model #CECH-2001A) and a 250GB (model #CECH-2001B) version of the console under the cover of a dummy corporation, Sand Dollar Enterprise.
Today, UK-based Eurogamer and its Spanish sister site cited unnamed sources as saying the 250GB PS3 could launch as early as next month across the Atlantic. Both reports say the console will be offered as part of limited edition bundles, much like the still-available (and now just $349) 160GB Uncharted: Among Thieves bundle. In the UK, the super-sized console is pegged as coming with either Assassin's Creed II, Gran Turismo 5, or Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for £299.99 ($495, €340). In Spain, Eurogamer's sources claim the console will be bundled with FIFA 10 for €350 ($509, £307). Currently, the 120GB PS3 sells for £249.99 and €299.99 in Europe, and $299.99 in the US. There are no bundle deals in either territory.
The official story: Sony Computer Entertainment America reps deferred to their European colleagues, who had not responded as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Cautiously not bogus. Last month's Euro retailer reports proved reliable, and the FCC document all but proves that Sony intends to put a 250GB PS3 into production. However, the introduction of another model one month after the PS3 Slim went on sale seems a bit soon. Further suspicion is raised by the inclusion of Gran Turismo 5, which still does not have a firm launch date.