Rumor Control: The post-E3 edition

[UPDATE] This week: Metal Gear Stolen, Grand Theft Auto: The Movie, Microsoft's Halo 2 pay-per-clan plan, and the Eidos buyout.

RUMOR #1: A demo of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was stolen out of its case at last week's E3.

Source: Accounts vary, but most say that Gamesradar UK broke the story.

The official story: "We have no idea what you're talking about." --the surprisingly convincing SCEA reps at Sony's E3 booth.

What we heard: Toward the tail end of E3 last week, word began to spread that two 19- to 20-year-old males had cracked a demo station's Perspex case in the Sony booth and made off with a one-level disc of Snake Eater. Seeing how GameSpot was right next door, we decided to go undercover as an exhausted gamer (which wasn't hard) and scope out the scene of the alleged crime. An inspection of all the Perspex cases in the area showed that none were damaged, but we did draw dirty stares from the numerous Sony security personnel in the area and the several cops walking the show floor. When asked if there had been a theft, the security guards said semiknowingly, "You'll have to ask the media reps about that one." When queried, SCEA reps on hand appeared baffled--and not the faux befuddlement usually expressed to reporters days before a top-secret game is announced. Just to be sure, GameSpot called the LAPD, who told us (a) that they didn't know about the Metal Gear Solid 3 theft, and (b) that the LAPD had a lot more important things to do than investigate somebody stealing a game. Where's FOXHOUND when you need them? [UPDATE] Since we ran this story, several people have written in saying they were actually present at the Sony booth when the alleged MGS3 theft happened. Here's one account:

"I was at E3 last Thursday and I saw one MGS3 demo kiosk at Sony booth showing "No Disc" bios screen instead of playing the game. I thought the machine was broken but another person noticed that the Plexiglas box enclosing the PS2 was busted open on the right side. That person notified Sony booth attendant and when he pressed the eject button the disc was indeed gone. Soon after, a bunch of Sony booth people gathered around to discuss the situation."

Though these accounts can't be verified, the detail in which they are recalled is telling. Also telling the silence from Sony and Konami, who have not responded to requests to comment on the new disc-snatch theft accounts.

Bogus or not bogus?: Given the new facts, it's honestly too close to call.

RUMOR #2: The film rights for Grand Theft Auto have been bought by DreamWorks.

Source: Love-it-or-hate-it movie-info site Ain't-It-Cool-News.

The official story: "It is not true." --Rockstar spokesperson.

What we heard: Some call Ain't-It-Cool-News founder Harry Knowles a pioneer of the Internet press. Others call him one of the biggest reasons Web journalism isn't taken seriously. Regardless of your opinion of Knowles, he has managed to gather a following of loyal fans and inquisitive spies. One such spy is "Quint," a regular contributor to AICN, who earlier today wrote a story saying that DreamWorks executive Michael De Luca had bought the movie rights to the Grand Theft Auto franchise. The only problem is that De Luca announced last month that he's leaving DreamWorks for Sony Pictures--a much better fit for a GTA movie, given its history with the PlayStation 2. But either way, according to Rockstar reps, the story is simply false--backed up by the fact that it has since mysteriously vanished from the AICN site.

Bogus or not bogus?: In this instance, bogus, although a GTA movie will almost certainly be made--eventually.

RUMOR #3: Microsoft will charge an extra fee for clan support in Halo 2.

Source: Xbox Live site XBL Gamers.

The official story: "Halo 2 clan content will be a normal aspect of the Xbox Live service, and will incur no extra costs for the user." --A post on the Bungie Web site.

What we heard: Yesterday, Xbox Live forums began to flare up like aggravated hemorrhoids with this bit of gossip. Given Microsoft's newfound fondness for charging small fees for extra Xbox Live content--as evidenced by the $4.99 price sticker on the new Project Gotham Racing 2 level--a clan-support add-on didn't seem so unlikely. But since one of the highlights of Halo 2's public and private shows at E3 was its clan-customization features--players will even be able to detail their armor with self-created insignia--the murmurings made many gamers hoppin' mad. No one, though, was angrier than Bungie. "We don't normally address rumors one way or the other, but this one was so ill-conceived and mean-spirited that we felt it necessary to cut it off at the pass," read a message on the Bungie Web site. For once, the person who started the rumor openly admitted to making the whole thing up. "It was my idea to see how easily a rumor could spread," read a message by "Curll," who admitted he had started the rumor as an experiment for a college business class. "Yeah, I kinda used everyone as guinea pigs," he admitted. "Alternative Marketing Methods is [the title of] my marketing paper."

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.

RUMOR #4: A major US game publisher is planning to buy UK-based Eidos.

Source: Respectable British newspaper The Observer (whose online home is shared with The Guardian).

The official story: "No comment." --Eidos US rep.

What we heard: Fueled by E3 rumors "that [Eidos] is sitting on another blockbuster product to rival Lara Croft, Tomb Raider," The Observer said the publisher "is being stalked by American rivals" who are hot for its newly acquired internal studio, Freedom Fighters-maker Io Interactive. It even went so far as to say that Electronic Arts and Activision were "considering the possibility of a takeover bid that would value Eidos at £325 million" ($578.8 million). The Observer article also entertained the possibility that France-headquartered Ubisoft might play corporate suitor as well--and credible sources say Ubi is on the acquisitions prowl. But, for now, it seems Eidos is out of the crosshairs--a source close to the publisher laughed off the takeover talk, chalking it up to the E3 hubbub.

Bogus or not bogus?: Most likely bogus--for now, anyway.

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