What we heard: Electronic Arts appears to have a number of big changes in store for its popular Dead Space and Dragon Age franchises, if the Kotaku-powered rumor mill is to be believed.
First, to Visceral Games' Dead Space. Citing an unspecified insider (who may or may not work for EA), Kotaku claims EA brass have given a directive to dramatically expand the Dead Space franchise. This expansion will reportedly take the form of a space-flight title, a first-person shooter, and an action adventure made to feel like Sony's Uncharted series.
According to Kotaku's source, the flight-combat Dead Space game involves players piloting ships. The source also said that the new Dead Space action adventure has yet to enter full production, though it is in the early planning stages.
The source also offered an update on Dead Space 3, which EA has teased but not formally announced. The game was apparently very nearly canceled on the basis that the franchise hasn't performed as well as Uncharted. Having just missed the chopping block, Dead Space 3 will reportedly conclude Isaac's storyline, with the final setting being a blindingly white ice planet. The game will reportedly include a co-op element as well.
Moving on to Dragon Age, Kotaku's source said that BioWare's fantasy role-playing game will be going the way of Mass Effect 3, in that it will include a multiplayer component. The multiplayer mode, which may or may not be a stand-alone product, will reportedly feature cooperative and competitive play.
As an added wrinkle, the source indicated that dragons will be a playable class in Dragon Age's multiplayer mode. Further, the multiplayer component will reportedly run on DICE's well-regarded Frostbite 2 game engine, which is best known for powering Battlefield 3.
The official story: An EA representative declined GameSpot's request for comment.
Bogus or not bogus: Looking mostly not bogus. The Dead Space franchise has done well with critics, but its commercial performance has been somewhat wanting. According to EA, Dead Space 2 shipped 2 million units through the end of June 2011. Therefore, it makes sense that EA will be trying to juice this franchise--and Visceral is hiring for a "bold new IP."
However, it's worth noting that none of these alleged games have been officially announced, so it's entirely possible that if EA is working on them now, it may cancel the games tomorrow.
As for Dragon Age, multiplayer seems to be a lock, given BioWare's decision to include the same in Mass Effect 3. However, given the departure this would mark from the series formula, the developer will likely be exceedingly careful with its implementation, possibly breaking it out into its own product. After all, EA is a big fan of finding ways to expand its franchises into the digital sphere.