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Source: A Blockbuster UK flier obtained by gaming website IGN.
What we heard: Sony has maintained since E3 2011 that it would begin its phased release of the PlayStation Vita beginning this fall. Last week, a press release from 505 Games seemingly confirmed that the portable would arrive in the US this year. Now, a new retailer advertisement from Blockbuster's UK arm indicates that Europe will get the PS Vita this year as well.
An advertisement obtained by IGN from the Dish Network-owned rental company Blockbuster says the Wi-Fi-only version of the PS Vita and the 3G-capable version will ship on October 28. Though the flier appears authentic, Blockbuster's official UK website does not have a release date pegged for the system.
When the PS Vita does launch, it will be released in a troubled time for portable gaming devices. Just last week Nintendo announced its plan to slash the 3DS's price by one-third from $250 to $170 beginning on August 12 following disappointing launch sales of the device.
Additionally, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli thinks the PS Vita perhaps will struggle when it does launch. Last month he said, "The Vita is an absolutely fantastic platform, but it will have a hard time, and it might be too late."
The official word: A Sony representative told GameSpot, "We don't comment on rumors or speculation."
Bogus or not bogus: Looking not bogus that the PS Vita will launch this fall. However, given the above speculation and that another European retailer says the PS Vita will ship in November, it's hard to say when exactly the system will arrive.
Source: A press release from 505 Games touting a fall 2011 release date for MMA: Supremacy on the PlayStation Vita.
What we heard: At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony announced that the PS Vita would "successively launch in [the] global market starting [at] the end of 2011." While the electronics giant didn't specify which territories would be receiving the handheld first, that plan sounded a lot like the one used for the original PSP, which debuted in Japan in December of 2004 and found its way to North America the following March.
However, there are indications that Sony might handle the PS Vita launch differently. Last month, European retailer ShopTo posted a November 4 release date for the handheld, a date that still appears on the system's product page. Now a different Sony partner is pegging the system for a 2011 launch.
505 Games' press release to announce the portable edition of Supremacy MMA is headlined, "Supremacy MMA Takes the Fight to the Streets with PlayStation Vita This Fall." The release--which bears a California dateline--repeats the 2011 window several times to emphasize that it is the only mixed martial arts fighter hitting shelves this year, and it closes by rephrasing the Vita version's release as "Holiday 2011."
There's no mistaking 505 Games' PR. The publisher clearly states that its MMA game is hitting the Vita this year. When asked for comment, an external 505 Games representative told GameSpot, "All of the information that we currently have available is in the press release." However, European trade site MCV received its own comment from 505 Games saying the Vita date is "only speculative."
The official word: Sony had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: A very tentative not bogus. There's enough buzz about a 2011 release for eager fans to be optimistic, but Sony might not have even finalized its release schedule yet.
What we heard: This morning, Capcom officially announced Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, along with four of the 12 new characters: Hawkeye, Ghost Rider, Firebrand, and Strider. Soon after, the GameFAQs thread appeared with links to character art on a Capcom server for three additional characters: Dead Rising's Frank West, Phoenix Wright, and Dr. Strange.
It appears Capcom had all the art files named after the characters portrayed therein, so by taking the same URL for, say, Hawkeye's art and substituting the name of another character, it would be possible to reveal the game's roster with some good guesses. The NeoGAF community quickly picked up on the leak, and what followed was a barrage of guesswork that pushed both threads to dozens of pages in length, and uncovered eight previously unseen pieces of artwork.
On the Marvel side, the new artwork consisted of Dr. Strange, Nova, Rocket Raccoon, and Iron Fist. As for Capcom's additional foursome, that lineup featured Phoenix Wright, Frank West, Resident Evil's Nemesis, and Devil May Cry antagonist Vergil. All of the artwork has since been pulled down, though the server still hosts pictures of Hawkeye, Hulk, and other confirmed characters in the game.
The official word: Capcom had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or Not Bogus: Looking not bogus, but clarification should come soon enough. Marvel and Capcom both have panels at this week's Comic-Con where they're slated to discuss the game.
[UPDATE]: Capcom has acknowledged the authenticity of the leak, and provided the following statement:
"Today we announced Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for PS3 and X360 as well as the first four characters and a playable build for this week's San Diego Comic-Con. As part of that, you may have seen some of our new characters for the game pop up on the Internet a bit earlier than anticipated. We are very happy with the positive response to the lineup, but at this point we're only going to focus on the four characters (Strider, Firebrand, Ghost Rider, Hawkeye) we have officially revealed. As for the other eight additional characters, we will have a ton of info, videos, screens and playable code in the coming months. Stay tuned!"
Source: A fresh story at Microsoft news and rumor site WinRumors.
What we heard: Following a rumor that Avatar Kinect would launch in May, Microsoft did not utter a word about the social-themed, Kinect-powered chat feature for the Xbox 360 during its E3 2011 media briefing last month. Now, there's a report that Microsoft is readying the new software for release next Wednesday.
According to "company insiders" speaking with WinRumors, Avatar Kinect will debut on July 27. The download, which will be free for Xbox Live Gold members, will let the Kinect read facial expressions and replicate them on Avatars in online chat rooms for up to eight people.
The official story: As off press time, Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment.
Bogus or not bogus?: Hard to tell, but looking not bogus. Last month, a Microsoft representative confirmed to gaming blog Joystiq that Avatar Kinect would launch in July. And with only so many days left in the month--coupled with Microsoft's affinity to release software on Wednesdays--July 27 is a distinct possibility.
Source: Content aggregation site Examiner.com, relaying an interview with AMD director of ISV relationships Neal Robinson that can be found in the August issue of Official Xbox Magazine.
What we heard: Nintendo fired the opening shots in the next-generation console war by announcing the Wii U at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, and eyes now look to Microsoft and Sony to see how the two competitors will respond. Industry chatter has been particularly active on Microsoft's next Xbox, though rumors have thus far indicated only that the device will be announced during E3 2012 next June.
June, of course, is a long way off, but gamers curious about details on the next Xbox may have a bit of gristle to chew on today. Over the weekend, Examiner.com relayed a recent interview in OXM with AMD's Neal Robinson, who said that the next Xbox will be capable of rendering graphics on par with James Cameron's 3D visual opus, Avatar. Robinson reportedly would not say one way or another whether AMD is at work on the next Xbox.
However, he did reportedly go on to note that the next Xbox will boast a substantial improvement to artificial intelligence and physics capabilities. The AMD director said that, for instance, individual pedestrians in games like Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row could have unique reactions to real-time situations. That is to say, when players go on a murderous shooting rampage, pedestrians will apparently scatter in a realistic manner.
The official story: "Neal was just talking with the reporter about the future of console gaming in general," an AMD representative told GameSpot. "Any questions about next-gen Xbox should be directed to Microsoft." Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus: Bogus for now, if for no other reason than the telephone-call-like sourcing of Examiner to OXM to Robinson to, presumably, Microsoft. However, it's worth noting that AMD devised the Xbox 360's graphics chip for Microsoft, and the PlayStation 2's visual processor before that. Therefore, it's entirely within the realm of possibility that AMD will reprise its role as GPU maker for the next Xbox, and therefore, Robinson would be briefed on how that work is coming along.
Source: United Kingdom-based gaming site Gamerzines.
What we heard: Last May, Electronic Arts introduced its Online Pass initiative, which gates off online multiplayer modes behind a $10 pay wall for those who do not buy their software new. Shortly thereafter, Ubisoft said that it would "probably" adopt a similar model for its own games sometime in the future, and it appears that future isn't too far off.
According to Gamerzines' report, Ubisoft will introduce the online pass program with upcoming racing game Driver: San Francisco, which is due out next month. The report suggests that the Passport will work similarly to its publishing rival's, in that it will restrict some or all online gameplay to owners of new copies.
Players who rent or purchase a secondhand copy of Driver: San Francisco will need to pay a fee to purchase the Passport. The report did not offer a price for the Uplay Passport.
The online passes used by EA, Sony, THQ, and Warner Bros. are seen as an effort to make buying games new more attractive than buying them used (a sale that puts no money in the publisher's pocket). Typically, secondhand users must pay a nominal fee ($10) to access all the features new purchasers receive with online pass-enabled games.
The official story: As of press time, Ubisoft had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment or clarification.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus. With the high adoption rate of online pass programs by big-name publishers like the aforementioned EA, Sony, and THQ, it would not be far-fetched for Ubisoft to follow suit.
Source: A GameStop memo leaked to gaming blog Kotaku.
What we heard: The PlayStation 3's built-in Blu-ray player is an irrefutable advantage that Sony has in the current-generation game console race. However, a new rumor suggests Sony will be complicating the PS3's high-definition output for games and movies that make use of Blu-ray discs.
Yesterday, Kotaku reported that it had received an internal memo sent to GameStop employees indicating that Sony would be introducing a new PlayStation 3 SKU, called "K." However, this SKU could be a downgrade of sorts, as it would require PS3 owners to hook up their machine with an HDMI cable--and not a component cable--to "play a game or watch a movie in high-definition."
"Component cables will no longer be able to transfer a high-def picture," the memo reads. It goes on to say that while older PS3 models "A-J" would not require the HDMI cable to view high-definition content, all future PS3 SKUs would. Further, GameStop urged employees to offer HDMI cables with new PS3 sales, stating "the HDMI cables will also help you drive add-on sales."
The official story: As it turns out, the GameStop memo contains both a measure of truth and mistaken information. In a statement provided to Ars Technica, a Sony representative confirmed that while high-definition Blu-ray movie playback will require an HDMI cable, PS3 owners can continue to play games and stream content in high-definition with component cables.
"The new CECH-3000 series PS3 requires HDMI only for BD movie output in HD, in compliance with [Advanced Access Content System] standards," Sony told the website. "PS3 continues to support component output for HD gaming and streaming content." Sony had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment as of press time.
Of note, Sony recently introduced the CECH-3000B SKU to Japan. The model, which boasts a 320GB hard drive, consumes less power--specifically from its original 230W to 200W--and weighs in at 2.6kg.
As Ars notes, the AACS standard is a digital-rights management standard that dictates that full high-def video resolutions must use either HDMI or DVI cables that support high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP). All Blu-ray players must phase out component ports by 2014 to comply with the AACS standard.
Bogus or not bogus: Bogus that gamers must use an HDMI cable to play high-definition games or stream high-definition content. Not bogus that those who use new PS3s for watching high-def Blu-ray movies now have a new DRM hurdle to contend with.
Source: An article on Teknylate.
What we heard: The Teknylate article claims that Windows 8 will let users play Xbox 360 games on their PCs, although it attributes no particular source with the information.
Teknylate's piece appears to be the reason this story has entered the news cycle today, but it's not entirely new. A very similar story surfaced in May on Insideris, with the author of that piece (who goes by "Sam") attributed generic "sources" with the information that Xbox 360 functionality on Windows 8 PCs will be reserved for those willing to pay an Xbox Live-like subscription fee.
However, the subscription service won't simply be Xbox Live, as cross-platform play will specifically be prohibited to avoid competitive mismatches that could arise from one group of players sporting mice and keyboards while others wield standard Xbox 360 controllers.
Such a move would drastically increase the installed user base for the Xbox 360 and bring console gaming into households that never would have considered picking up a $200 gaming system they would play rarely, if at all. The risk of Microsoft undercutting the Xbox 360 market could also be limited as the console is already older at this point than the original Xbox was when it was discontinued.
The longer Microsoft can ride this generation, the better, but the software giant is rumored to be unveiling its next step forward by E3 2012. And given the razor-razorblade business model the gaming industry generally adheres to (in which hardware is often initially sold at a loss with the money recouped through software sales), perhaps Microsoft wouldn't mind significantly expanding the Xbox 360 user base without needing to sell more systems.
This isn't the first time Microsoft has eyed PC and Xbox integration. The company's original Games for Windows Live initiative brought the Xbox Live gamertag (and games like Gears of War and Halo 2) to PC players with merged friends lists and achievements.
And earlier this year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed that the Kinect motion-sensing camera peripheral would be coming to the PC, saying, "We'll support that in a formal way in the right time, and when we have an announcement to make, we'll make it." (The company has since released the Kinect software development kit for PC.) It also doesn't take a very long look at Microsoft's first Windows 8 demo video to notice a resemblance between it and the Kinect dashboard.
The official word: Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus: There's essentially nothing to go on here, so it's an obligatory bogus. But Microsoft has indicated it wants to further integrate its Xbox and PC efforts, and the downside here is fairly limited.
Source: Tech blog BGR.
What we heard: Not a week after the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo concluded, the rumor mill began to churn on next year's show. Namely, VideoGamer.com reported that it had heard from a senior Crytek development source that the German studio would unveil a new installment in the Timesplitters franchise alongside Microsoft's next Xbox at E3 2012.
Crytek has since distanced itself from those rumors, but a new report indicates that Microsoft does indeed plan to debut the Xbox 360's successor next June. BGR reports today that it has received word from a source with knowledge of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division that the company will unveil the next Xbox at E3 2012.
Unfortunately, BGR's source had no other information on Microsoft's plans, including when the device will launch. However, the individual did tell the tech site that Microsoft has been working on the device since 2006. Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 in November 2005, and it has gone on to sell nearly 55 million units worldwide.
While Microsoft has been tight lipped on the next Xbox through official channels, it has at least indicated through other means that a new device is in the works. Earlier this year, the publisher posted a spate of job listings to fill out a team "responsible for defining and delivering next generation console architectures from conception through implementation."
The official story: Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus: Microsoft isn't likely to offer any word on its next Xbox until it is good and ready. However, given the growing body of rumors, an E3 2012 reveal is looking increasingly likely.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Yesterday evening, TechCrunch reported that casual game publisher PopCap Games was the subject of a $1 billion buyout. The AOL-owned technology blog listed three potential suitors: an unnamed Asian game company, Facebook game titan Zynga, or traditional megapublisher Electronic Arts.
Early this morning, TechCrunch narrowed the list of suspects to one--EA. Citing two unnamed sources close to the deal, the blog says that the Redwood City, CA-based company is in "late stage acquisition discussions" to buy the Bejeweled and Peggle creator, which is based in Seattle, WA.
PopCap's purchase price reportedly remains "a sum of over $1 billion"--some 13 percent of EA's entire market capitalization. TechCrunch's sources say the high price stems from EA's eagerness to expand its presence in the casual gaming space, with the move being described as a "Hail Mary pass." Investors are already wary of the deal, with EA's share price slipping nearly 4 percent as of press time.
If it comes to pass, EA's PopCap buyout would mark the latest casual game acquisition by the publisher. In November 2009, the company scooped up Facebook game publisher Playfish in a deal worth up to $400 million. Then, in October 2010, it netted Angry Birds publisher Chillingo--but not its developer, Rovio--for $20 million.
The official story: As of press time, EA had not responded to GameSpot's requests for comment on the report.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking increasingly not bogus.
Source: AOL's technology blog TechCrunch.
What we heard: Casual game studios have been snapped up by big-time companies in droves of late, with the likes of PlayFish, Chillingo, Playdom, and Ngmoco all being acquired for, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, it appears as if casual gaming stalwart PopCap Games is the next studio in line for a massive payday.
Multiple unnamed sources have reportedly informed TechCrunch that a buyer is looking to dole out more than $1 billion to acquire PopCap. The price is apparently 10 times as much as PopCap's yearly revenues, which TechCrunch reports are around $100 million-$150 million.
The problem, however, is that TechCrunch's sources have no idea who the buyer could be. FarmVille creator Zynga, which is reportedly mulling an initial public offering, is said to be one potential purchaser. However, TechCrunch's sources indicate that Zynga backed off the deal due to PopCap's high asking price.
Beyond Zynga, TechCrunch reports Electronic Arts or an Asian game company, such as Call of Duty Online service provider Tencent, could be potential suitors.
[UPDATE] Following on from yesterday's report, TechCrunch reports that it has received word from two additional sources that the mystery buyer is, in fact, EA. TechCrunch's sources also characterized the negotiations as being in a "late stage."
PopCap is perhaps best known for its Bejeweled franchise, which has sold more than 50 million units since first release in 2000. The most recent installment, Bejeweled 3, arrived for the PC in December and is expected to hit other platforms later this year. The Washington-based studio has also found success with such franchises as Peggle and Plants vs. Zombies.
The official story: "Per company policy, we do not comment on rumors and speculation of this nature."--A PopCap representative. Electronic Arts had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Probably not bogus that the casual-obsessed market would be giving PopCap a long, hard look. However, as recent as last week, PopCap cofounder John Vechey told the Wall Street Journal that the company is mulling its own IPO for later this year. As such, this deal, should it be in the works, is anything but finalized.
What we heard: Boston-area developer Turbine is no stranger to crafting online-enabled games. The shop's biggest massively multiplayer games are Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online, both of which are exclusive to the PC. Now, it appears the developer is jumping to console development with a new online game.
A new Turbine job listing (from parent company Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment) calls for a software engineer for console gameplay for work on an "unannounced online console project." It appears the game will land on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as the listing further asks for someone with "experience with existing modern game engines supported by the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3."
As for what the game might be called, according to Turbine employee Josh Phelan's resume, the title is currently going by the code name "Project Hendrix." Further, Phelan's resume also states that the game is in development for the PC in addition to consoles.
Few details are offered about Project Hendrix in Phelan's resume, but the information does indicate that the title will offer player vs. player combat in some fashion, a staple of massively multiplayer online gameplay.
Turbine developing a console MMO game comes as little surprise. Studio vice president of product development Craig Alexander said in 2009 that consoles have finally achieved the basic requirements to support MMO games, from storage space to online communities. Alexander further noted that Turbine believes MMOGs are soon going to revolutionize the console space, just like they did with the PC.
Additionally, Phelan's resume indicates that Turbine was working on a console-exclusive MMO game from July 2009 to August 2010, at which time it was canceled.
The official story: As of press time, Turbine has not responded to GameSpot's request for comment or clarification on the matter.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus, given that Turbine is officially hiring for a new online console game.
Source: An image posted at GameGeneration, reportedly stemming from a Sony Key Account Meeting presentation given in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
What we heard: Though Sony competitor Microsoft recently purchased Skype for $8.5 billion and plans to incorporate it into Xbox Live, that might not stop the Japanese technology giant from offering Skype functionality for its newest portable, the PlayStation Vita.
An image from a Sony presentation given in the Brazilian city shows a range of logos, including ones for the PlayStation Network and Wi-Fi. Another company logo is shown, and it is for big-time Internet calling service Skype.
During Sony's E3 2011 media briefing, the company named its portable the Vita (formerly known as the NGP) and announced prices for the Wi-Fi and 3G models, but it did not say anything about Skype compatibility. However, the Vita's predecessor--the PSP--does offer Skype support.
Skype is the leading provider in the consumer voice over IP space, with 170 million users worldwide. Services include free standard and video calls between Skype users on home computers, the ability to call any phone number from Skype for a fee, and the ability to generate a phone number that can be reached from a standard phone.
The official story: As of press time, neither Sony nor Microsoft has responded to GameSpot's requests for comment or clarification on the matter.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus. Given that the original PSP supported Skype, it would stand to reason that Sony would want to continue offering that functionality to its users. Further, when Microsoft purchased Skype, it said it would continue to "invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms," which could potentially include the Vita.
Source: UK gaming news site VideoGamer.com.
What we heard: Nintendo discharged the opening salvo in the next-generation console wars last week, taking the lid off of the Wii U and its tablet controller. As eyes now turn to see how Microsoft and Sony will respond, recent rumors suggest a reveal for the next Xbox will come within the next year.
VideoGamer.com is reporting today that Microsoft will "likely" announce the Xbox 360's successor at the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is scheduled to return to LA from June 5-7. The information reportedly comes by way of a high-ranking industry source at Crytek, who also said that the new Xbox will feature DirectX 11 integration. Core components of this technology include tessellation, multithreaded rendering, and compute shaders.
The development source is reportedly well abreast of Microsoft's development plans due to Crytek's intention to ship TimeSplitters 4 for the new console. The Crytek developer said that the game will have a heavy emphasis on "the series' branching paths and exploratory nature," and it will also feature sandbox-style gameplay. TimeSplitters 4 is already up and running using the studio's proprietary CryEngine 3, the source noted.
The TimeSplitters IP has been at Crytek since 2009, when the German developer purchased franchise creator Free Radical and all its assets after that studio folded. Free Radical--now known as Crytek UK--had been at work on TimeSplitters 4 since 2007, when it announced the game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii.
The official story: Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment as of press time. Crytek declined to comment on the matter.
Bogus or not bogus: Not enough to say. The days of the five-year console cycle are clearly over, and Microsoft has momentum with the Xbox 360 into its sixth year of availability. As such, the publisher probably isn't keen on instigating a new generation of hardware.
It's also worth noting that these types of rumors are anything but reliable. After all, just last month, Develop's "senior, trusted, well-placed source" said that the Xbox 360 successor would "likely" be on hand at E3 2011.
Source: The EB Games Australia website.
What we heard: Yesterday, Sony finally unveiled more details about its upcoming handheld console--the tentatively named Next Generation Portable (NGP)--at its E3 press conference in downtown Los Angeles.
Rechristening the device the PlayStation Vita, Sony announced that it will be available with 3G compatibility for US$299 and a cheaper Wi-Fi-only edition for US$249. The console is expected to launch globally starting at the end of 2011.
While Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA) still has to announce an official local price for the console, local retailer EB has already estimated that the new handheld will retail for AU$349 in Australia for the Wi-Fi-only version. The retailer currently has the console on preorder but does not have a listing for the 3G-enabled version of the PlayStation Vita.
The official story: SCEA representatives have not yet revealed the Australian price of the PlayStation Vita, only hinting that it would more likely fall closer to the UK pricing of the console than the US pricing. The UK pricing is as follows: 249 euros for the Wi-Fi PlayStation Vita (which translates to approximately AU$341.32 using current conversion rates); and 299 euros for the 3G-enabled PlayStation Vita (which translates to approximately AU$409.86 using current conversion rates).
Bogus or not bogus?: Given that Australian gaming prices for both hardware and software have not yet fallen to match the change in the market and the rising Aussie dollar, it is looking likely that Aussies will have to pay around AU$349 for the Wi-Fi-only Vita and around AU$399 for the 3G-enabled console.
Last week, THQ announced Darksiders II over a year after initially revealing it was in the works. Officially, the game is coming out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC sometime in 2012. Unofficially, sources close to THQ tell GameSpot that the game is also being prepped as a launch title for the successor for the Wii, which will be unveiled at Nintendo's press event in less than an hour.
Other than the launch window, no other specific information about the Wii 2 version of Darksiders II was currently available. As of press time, THQ reps had not responded to requests for comment.
That said, the publisher did include a few details about Darksiders II in an earlier announcement. The company said the game would follow the horseman Death instead of the original title's protagonist, War, in a parallel story to the original. In the game, Death will attempt to clear War's "good" name (he's accused of starting the end of times ahead of time) and save humankind in the process.
As for gameplay specifics, THQ has said that Darksiders II will feature "a dramatically larger world." Along with the larger world, the publisher is planning to give players upgradable equipment, new enemies, and bigger dungeons.
[UPDATE] At its E3 2011 press conference this morning, Nintendo confirmed that Darksiders is part of the first wave of third-party titles for the new console, called the Wii U. VP of core games Danny Bilson also confirmed it would be a launch title for the system.
For more on the original, check out GameSpot's review of Darksiders.
Source: Microsoft speculation site Winrumors.
What we heard: On Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. PDT, Microsoft's media briefing will start off the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Though the company is keeping mum on what's in store for the conference, rumors have a high-definition remake of Halo: Combat Evolved and the Kinect-enabled Gears of War: Exile as being on tap at the event.
Today, another rumor may have prematurely revealed a cornerstone of Microsoft's press conference. Winrumors reports that Microsoft will likely use its presentation to unveil Xbox Live Diamond, the Xbox 360's long-awaited IPTV service. The company apparently is planning a demonstration of the service--code-named "Orapa"--for the event, but it is still in the process of trying to lock down agreements with cable television providers and other involved third parties.
"Microsoft is currently in last minute negotiations to secure the necessary agreements in time," an anonymous source told Winrumors.
Today's rumors come six months after a Reuters report revealed that Microsoft was planning on being a "virtual cable operator" via the Xbox 360. According to that report, the software giant was planning to offer a suite of cable channels through the console for an additional monthly fee on top of Xbox Live Gold.
The official story: When queried, Microsoft reps would only say, "We are excited to share our latest news at E3 during our news briefing on the morning of Monday, June 6, 2011, at the Galen Center on USC Campus in Los Angeles."
Bogus or not bogus?: Since Microsoft has been promising IPTV for the Xbox 360 as far back as January 2007, many industry watchers have taken an "I'll believe it when I see it" approach. However, with reputable outlets like Reuters reporting that Microsoft may be getting into the television game with the Xbox 360, Monday's press conference could indeed see the long-awaited feature take shape.
Source: A supposed Electronic Arts Store box art shot, captured by NeoGAF user Lakitu.
What we heard: The Mass Effect series is riddled with emotion and heavy decisions. And in the lauded original Mass Effect and its equally acclaimed sequel, gamers made these choices by clicking buttons. However, in the franchise's newest entry--the recently delayed Mass Effect 3--those decisions might be made with the wave of a hand or facial gestures, if a purported retail box art image proves correct.
The supposed retail listing (pictured at right) for Mass Effect 3 clearly shows the "Better with Kinect" marketing slogan, indicating it will support but not require the peripheral. Additionally, the listing has been pulled from the EA Store.
The official story: As of press time, Microsoft has not responded to GameSpot's request for comment or clarification on the matter.
Bogus or not bogus?: Rumors are already swirling that Microsoft will unveil a Kinect-enabled Gears of War: Exile at next week's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Thus, it wouldn't be unrealistic for Microsoft or EA to use the show to also announce its intention to add motion control to the greatly hyped Mass Effect 3. If Microsoft or EA does indeed use the annual trade show as a forum to make the announcement, gamers will have their answers in under a week.
Source: See below.
What we heard: When Nintendo renamed its Revolution console the Wii, the rebranding was met with disbelief and derision. Now, an increasing number of clues indicate Sony may be prepping a similarly offbeat name for its upcoming handheld, currently code-named the Next Generation Portable.
Speculation began over the weekend, when Games Pundit leaked a photo (above) of the NGP bearing the name "PS VITA" on its bottom. The image apparently comes from a proof sheet for Sony's upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo press briefing, where the new name will reportedly be unveiled. Since then, gaming blog Joystiq has uncovered a blurry scan of more printed materials (middle) that appear to show the NGP with the PS VITA logo next to it--a logo that shares the same "PS" font as the "PS3" logo.
This week, the evidence continued to mount. Several outlets discovered that the URL "vita.scedev.net" redirects to the Sony Computer Entertainment Developer Network site, just as psp.scedev.net, ps3.scedev.net, and ngp.scedev.net do. However, the URL psp2.scedev.net yields a "page not found" error, apparently eliminating that name from the running.
Finally, this week Sony launched the official PlayStation.com page for its E3 2011 presence. Though not visible from the front, inside the page's code are numerous references to "PS Vita." However, the index page the tags point to--http://us.playstation.com/psvita/features/--leads to a "page not found" error.
The official story: Sony had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Though the series of clues is pretty convincing, it overlooks one fact. As far back as January, there have been rumors that the NGP was internally code-named "Vita" at Sony.
Also, Sony has had past successes using code names to throw journalists and Internet sleuths off the scent. Last year, the company used the code name "PlayStation Arc" for its motion-sensing system when talking with third-party publishers, and even went as far as to trademark the name in Japan. That system was later revealed to be named the PlayStation Move at the last minute.
Source: See below.
What we heard: The Electronic Entertainment Expo descends upon the Los Angeles Convention Center next week for its 2011 showing. While it has been confirmed that Nintendo will unveil its Wii successor at the show, few other high-profile announcements have been made known. However, according to a purported image of the cover of Xbox 360 World magazine on the Epic Games forums, Microsoft is going to announce Gears of War: Exile and one "Halo HD" at its media event.
In January, Epic Games trademarked Gears of War: Exile, but neither its developer nor Microsoft has uttered a word about the project in the months that have passed. The title is rumored to be an on-rails shooter that uses the Kinect motion-sensing system, but no official word has been offered.
As for the Halo HD mention, an unconfirmed report in February suggests that Microsoft is planning a high-definition remake of Halo: Combat Evolved for this holiday season. In fact, the report states the game will debut on November 15, 2011, which is exactly 10 years after Halo: Combat Evolved shipped for the original Xbox.
The official story: "We do not comment on rumors or speculation."-- Microsoft spokesperson.
Bogus or not bogus?: Given its E3 track record, it's a near certainty that Microsoft will make some announcement concerning either the Gears of War or Halo franchise at its E3 2011 press event at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 6. With just over a week to go before the show, gamers will soon have the answers they seek.