RUMOR #1: Microsoft's oft-annual X0 event, where upcoming titles--and in this year's case, upcoming hardware--are paraded in front of the world's media, will be held in Amsterdam. (added 8/8)
Source: Today's memo to investors and media penned by American Technologies Research analyst and all-around game biz sage P.J. McNealy.
The official story: "We have not yet confirmed the location."--Microsoft rep.
What we heard: Upon reading McNealy's memo sent to analysts this morning, there was plenty to dig our teeth into. Aptly titled "Checking up on Xbox 360 Expectations," the memo included McNealy's belief that the new console is "on track for a November launch," as well as his pick for price: $299, "with the 20-gig hard drive selling as a peripheral for somewhere in the range of $60-$99." However, the real juicy stuff didn't come in the form of smoke signals or flashing red lights. As part of the outtro, McNealy made mention of this year's upcoming X05 location, something Microsoft is currently touting sans location. To wit: Last week's invite, which asked a select few to "join us at X05 for a journey into the heart of Xbox 360" on October 3 and 4 was complete--save for that last breadcrumb...the event's location. McNealy to the rescue: "The other big event is expected to be X05 in Amsterdam in early October, where launch titles and hardware are expected to be showcased for developers worldwide," McNealy wrote in his memo. Le cat, out of le bag? Analysts are our friends--even when they get their assessments of the future wrong, we forgive them. One thing analysts are not prone to do is to contrive facts absent empirical evidence.
Bogus or not bogus?: In this case, we're presuming McNealy didn't peg Amsterdam as the site of this year's event out of the blue. Not bogus.
RUMOR #2: Madden NFL 06 is going Bush league by including the President and his Florida-governin' sibling, Jeb. (added 8/8)
Source: A Madden NFL 06 movie on EA's Web site showing the Republicans in virtual action on the gridiron.
The official story: "Please note that the video is a special animation created especially for the Governor's visit to the Tiburon studio."--EA Web site.
What we heard: Today, Jeb Bush was subject to yet another perk of being governor of the Sunshine State. George W.'s brother visited Tiburon Studios in Orlando this afternoon to show his support for tomorrow's launch of the game. The video shows Jeb lining up as a wideout for the Miami Dolphins, and George W. in the secondary as a Dallas Cowboys cornerback, assigned to cover Jeb. As one would guess, given that Jeb made the visit to the studio, the younger Bush runs a fly route toward the end zone. The QB, identified only as "Number 7," bombs one out to J.B., who makes a two-handed grab and flattens the nearest Cowboy. The only thing that stands between him and six is the most powerful man in the world, his brother. George may be presidential in real life, but apparently in Madden his tackling rating isn't worthy of the White House. Jeb easily bowls over George and somersaults into the end zone for the winning score. It's clear the video features in-game footage, and the mugs are definitely of the two Bush brothers. However, seeing isn't always believing, as an EA rep confirmed that "[EA] just did that for fun today since Governor Bush was in the EA-Tiburon office for a visit. [The Bush brothers] are not actually in the real game." What happened to "If it's in the game, it's in the game"?
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus. We're trusting EA on this one, as we haven't seen any unlockable celebrities in the Madden series since Team Ecko in Madden 2001.
RUMOR #3: New pictures have surfaced of Nintendo's Revolution...sitting in someone's house!
The official story: See below.
What we heard: With two of the three next-gen consoles already having emerged from their cocoons with near-final prototypes, only one's appearance still remains shrouded in mystery: Nintendo's top secret Revolution. Pictures of the enigmatic unit have been surfacing all over the Web since its announcement, and they have all but come with a huge "GRADE-A BOGUS" sticker on 'em. However, Nintendophiles have been doing some double takes recently, with new pictures of the Rev in someone's house. What's more, one of the pictures features the controller (which Nintendo has fashioned into THE gaming secret of the year) sitting at the unit's side--but it's been blurred out through photo-doctoring software. The second pic shows a much shinier Revolution from the front, with its mesmerizing blue LED-lit disc drive. It's unclear whether they are from the same source, but it's pretty obvious that they're both fakes (given what we "know" about the ever-evolving Revolution). The first picture shows a boxy four-cornered Revolution, but Nintendo's previous prototypes were designed to be propped up in a stand, which requires one of the corners to be "softened" (see pic 4). The second picture, in a perfect "Sasquatch-like blur," is clearly a transposition of Nintendo's head-on shots (see pic 5) of its prototype, right down to the soft-light glare.
Bogus or not bogus?: Put your pitchforks and torches down, the real Revolution will have to wait. Bogus.
RUMOR #4: The FBI is investigating death threats e-mailed to Florida attorney and feisty game industry critic Jack Thompson.
Source: E-mails threatening great bodily harm forwarded to this and other publications by the attorney himself, as well as a Thompson-penned plea to Senators Hillary Clinton and Joseph Lieberman (sent to their offices and media outlets, including GameSpot) wherein Thompson asks for any "help your respective offices could give me in persuading the FBI to act in response to these threats."
The official story: "People are threatening to kill me." And: "The FBI is all over these." --Jack Thompson. "No comment." --FBI spokesperson, North Miami Beach Division.
What we heard: Among the dozens (and dozens) of unsolicited e-mails this Web site has received from attorney Jack Thompson over the past few weeks, a handful was singular in nature: they included e-mails purportedly sent to Thompson that contained threats on his life. By anyone's standard, the e-mails sounded dastardly, indeed. One read: "For being a total f***ing ***hole. I think video games or [sic] freaking awesome, and they are my entire life, and for you to insult them, is like telling me my life is totally worthless. For this, sir, I AM GOING TO F***ING KILL YOU!!!" [Expletives masked by asterisks.--ed.] Another forwarded to GameSpot from Thompson read: "this is not spam, its [sic] my right as a citizen to send you thousands upon thousands of emails saying the same thing until you die painfully from gun shot wounds." And a third: "Everyone thinks you are insane, hence the name 'Wacko Jacko', which makes you the equivalent of a molester. Therefore you are gay. I hate you, and the world would be a better place if you were brutally murdered." We gasped along with Thompson. We alerted Thompson that we intended to seek out additional details and verification of his claims from the FBI itself. Regarding the status of such an investigation and progress being made (the FBI employs trained media specialists for such purposes), Thompson replied with some urgency: "Are you, crazy? ... People are threatening to kill me. Either report what I have said, having been provided the e-mails, or stop bothering me."
Bogus or not bogus?: With members of the Bar (aka lawyers) compelled to tell-the-truth-the-whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth, and an FBI agent who doesn't overtly deny that an investigation is under way, likely not bogus.
RUMOR #5: Ubisoft's Beyond Good & Evil is getting the silver-screen treatment.
The official story: "This project is not connected to Ubisoft in any way. Thanks very much for bringing this to our attention."--Ubisoft rep.
What we heard: Games becoming movies. They're becoming as common as... well, movies becoming games. A posting on Gaming Ages' forums may have uncovered yet another small-screen to big-screen transmogrification. A Web site for a Beyond Good & Evil movie is up and running, and it looks completely authentic (even though Uwe Boll isn't attached). Proof enough, right? Well, not exactly. A "DVD Video" logo tucked in the corner indicates this won't make it to the local cineplex. And a quick look at the film studios' Web site reveals that it may not even make it to your local rental store--the site simply shows a timer counting down to September 10, presumably its release date. An Internet search on Google and IMDB for director Oliver Langdon, who seems to do everything but cater the set, yields zilch except a reference to a theater director. Considering that no one actually even played the stellar Beyond Good & Evil from Rayman creator Michel Ancel, save for a handful of educated gamers, no real studio would green-light this project. The film, if it is indeed on its way, is likely the work of a fan, and not a major studio. We'll wait for Ancel's next project, Peter Jackson's King Kong, and see if that gets made into a film.
Bogus or not bogus?: Beyond Good & Evil? This won't even get Beyond the director's VCR. Bogus.
RUMOR #6: The PC version of Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows was canceled this week.
Source: The gang over at 3D Gamers, inquiring about why Midway's official Seven Sorrows Web site was missing a PC-CD logo.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: A Seven Sorrows cancellation seemed like no big surprise considering the recent high-profile departures of John Romero and J.E. Sawyer from the project. Seeking confirmation of this fact, we made a call to our handy dandy Midway PR rep, and this revealed a bigger surprise, namely that the PC version of Seven Sorrows was actually canceled on the down low four or five months ago, long before E3, and it seems nobody had noticed. Not only was the PC version of the game still alive on various gaming sites, but it also seems that some online retailers hadn't received the obituary. As of Thursday morning, GameStop.com was still taking preorders for the game.
Bogus or not bogus?: This week? Bogus. Canceled? Not Bogus.
RUMOR #7: Workout "king" Richard Simmons will voice Tingle in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Source: Various Zelda fan forums courtesy of The Internet Movie Database's listing for the game.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: Now that IMDB posts listings for games, keen-eyed gamers can not only spam another message board worshipping or flaming upcoming titles, but they can also get a sneak peek at who may be voicing their favorite characters. The site's listing for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess shows game voice vets Nobuyuki Hiyama (Link) and Takashi Nagasako (Ganondorf), as well as Richard Simmons as Tingle. Richard Simmons!? Though the resemblance may be uncanny (Tingle is an older man who wears tights and has fairylike qualities), it appears that Nintendophiles won't be "Sweatin' to the Oldies." The Richard Simmons probably isn't the Richard Simmons, but likely a voice actor who happens to share the same name. However, the listing for the voice-acting Simmons doesn't list any previous credits or information, which doesn't make the extra Richard Simmons listing concrete evidence that Tingle won't be spouting, "And one, and two, that's right ladies, keep those arms moving."
Bogus or not bogus?: We're going with Bogus, but secretly praying that we're wrong.