Rumor Control: World of Warcraft 360 and Vice City Stories

[UPDATE] This week: Hex168.com--Conspiracy site? Halo 3 announcement? Lame contest promotion?

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RUMOR #1: World of Warcraft is coming to the Xbox 360.

Source: A job listing on the Blizzard Entertainment Web site.

The official story: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Microsoft spokesperson; Blizzard Entertainment reps declined requests for comment.

What we heard: Part gossip, part geek fantasy, the World of Warcraft Xbox 360 rumor has been around for a while. Prior to E3 2005 in May, scuttlebutt was rampant that Microsoft would announce that the massively multiplayer role-playing game was coming to its next-gen console at its press conference. The company did indeed announce a 360 MMORPG...problem was it was Final Fantasy XI, which is already available for both the PC and PlayStation 2--hardly a system-selling title.

Were WoW to become available for the 360, though, it would be a much different story. Given World of Warcraft's popularity--it already has over 4.5 million subscribers and has been among the top five top-selling PC games since its 2004 release--many gamers would gladly buy a 360 just to get in on the Azeroth action. Also, the PC hardware required to run the game costs several times the hard drive-enabled 360's $399 sticker price.

Enthusiasm for a 360 WoW was flared up with the recent discovery of several Blizzard job listings for next-generation console positions. The site has positions for next-gen engine programmers, next-gen tools programmers, and next-gen game physics/collision programmers.

So will the Xbox 360 be WoW-ed? It is a possibility. However, a more likely scenario was outlined this past February, when Blizzard sent out a product catalog that announced that Starcraft: Ghost was "coming soon to next-generation consoles." Though a rep said the ad was a misprint and denied the long-delayed console game was in development for next-gen platforms, the game's current release window, Q2 2006, is the same as that of the PlayStation 3. Mere coincidence, perchance?

Bogus or not bogus?: Not enough information to say either way, but we're hoping not bogus.

RUMOR #2: Halo 3 will ship on August 1, 2006.

Source: A forum thread on Xbox365.com.

The official story: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Microsoft spokesperson.

What we heard: Here we go again. It appears that Microsoft has started yet another viral marketing campaign. The first signs surfaced on the Xbox365.com forums on October 13. That's when a poster named "Lutz" started a thread titled "The beginning is nigh" above a photo of a curious, approximately 100-foot-wide symbol carved into San Francisco's Ocean Beach. The symbol displays the Roman numerals for 8, 1, and 6 in between a circle and a hexagon. Later on in the thread, Lutz posts two more pictures of the same symbol appearing in a field in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and another beach in Jacksonville, Florida.

When asked what the symbol was, Lutz's sole written reply was "I will enlist the help of the truly committed, but first you must solve my puzzle." That statement sounds very much like the puzzle challenges on Ourcolony.net, the teaser site which helped hype the release of the Xbox 360. So it was little surprise when, within a few posts, fans were already speculating that the numbers were a date--8/1/2006--and that said date was the release of, in the words of one poster, "OMG! HALO3!!"

Yesterday, the connection between the pictures and the Xbox 360 became a clearer. That's when the site Hex168.com went online. It purports to be the Lutz World Report, a conspiracy newsletter written by one Dr. Jason Lutz from his subterranean bunker in Saskatchewan, Canada. It warns of increased "sightings" of the crop circlelike "Hexes" and warns of the megapowerful Hex, Hex 168. Turns out that name is a clue. An Xbox365.com poster of the number-crunching variety found that if one takes 168 as a hexadecimal value and then converts it into binary code, it becomes the sequence "0001 0110 1000." Put the three together into "000101101000" and that converts back to "360"--just the sort of nerd-friendly hint Microsoft's viral marketing campaigns are known for. The Hex168.com site also sports a countdown clock that ends on noon, October 18.

Today, members of the games press got proof positive that the whole Hex business is indeed another viral marketing ploy. Late this afternoon, members of the games press were sent an e-mail "tip" with pictures of the oh-so mysterious Hex sign on various objects and still more mysterious text that sounds like the mutterings of a half-crazed pagan prophet. "The sign is a puzzle, and it is a promise: 'I will bring them together to witness the New Beginning before the rest of the world. And I will reward them with a physical manifestation of the power of this sign.'" It also says the sign would appear at four college football games on Saturday, October 1: Duke University vs. Georgia Tech (Durham, NC); Syracuse University vs. Rutgers (Syracuse, NY); Rice University vs. Tulsa (Tulsa, OK); Connecticut vs. University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH). It also gives this bloated oath: "At noon on October 18, the true purpose of the sign will be revealed, and the truly committed will have their chance to experience the New Beginning before the rest of the world."

But for all the mysterious portends in the body of the "tip" e-mail, there's no question about its humble origins in Microsoft's hype machine. Bearing the subject line "TIP: the beginning is nigh for 360 fans," the e-mail was sent by none other than 4orty2wo Entertainment, the marketing firm that originated Ilovebees.com.

So what will be announced at noon on October 18? While not impossible, chances are it will not be Halo 3. A more probable outcome is that the company will use the date to either unveil the Xbox 360's final games lineup or game price point. There's also the possibility of it being something along the lines of Origen360.com, which teased the world for weeks about...a contest in Europe that Americans can't even play. [UPDATE]: Guess what? It is.

(Author's note to 4orty2wo Entertainment: I want the 76 minutes of my life it took to write up this rumor back.)

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.

RUMOR #3: Rockstar Games has unveiled Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories for the PSP.

Source: The now-defunct Web site www.vicecitystories.com.

The official story: Rockstar reps did not return requests for comment.

What we heard: Given that it is prompting many people to buy a PSP just so they can play it, the success of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is pretty much a foregone conclusion. So it stands to reason that its developer, Rockstar Leeds, is tossing around ideas for a sequel. Since LCS shares the same setting as Grand Theft Auto III, the next PSP GTA will probably take place in the eponymous setting of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

For about four bright shining hours this week, it looked like that was the case when a site surfaced at www.vicecitystories.com. Consisting of a simple black page with the VCS logo and the words "Coming 2006 to PSP," it looked very similar to both the teaser pages for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and LCS. Problem was, the site looked too similar. The fact it urged visitors to preorder the game over a year before its release raised some serious red flags. Traditionally, Rockstar has waited until around five or six months before each GTA's release to bring its Web site online.

Sure enough, within hours of going up, the site--which was registered anonymously through DomainsByProxy.com --went down. But was it legit? No way, according to Gtaportable.com, which reports the URL is actually owned by Neil Christie, the British proprietor of the Gtapsp.com fan site. That theory grows a lot more sound when one looks at Christie's personal Web site, which shows he has nice sideline, cybersquatting GTA-related URLs. But the most damning evidence came from Christie himself, who allegedly told Gtaportable.com that he threw the site up "just to fool people."

(Author's note to Neil Christie: I want the 54 minutes of my life that it took to write up this rumor back.)

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus, although it's probable that the next PSP GTA will be set in Vice City.

Discussion

23 comments
ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

first person to comment in 3 and a half years. WOO HOO! I RULE!

valuum
valuum

HAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM THE FIRST PERSON TO COMMENT IN 3 MONTHS!!!!!!!!!!! I AM AMAZING!! LOOK AT ME! I CAN FLY!!!!!!! wow on the 360 would be stellar baby. just stellar.

kimo_kata
kimo_kata

Wow on 360? Sounds like a waste of a console. The only reason Final Fantasy XI is on so many platforms is because it cant last on just one.

thomas10soa
thomas10soa

i want wow my pc cant handle it so i need 360

fkholmes
fkholmes

That would be kinda lame.

Niffirg6
Niffirg6

-in repy to below actuly, it is possible, with the messenger kit's keyboard. if WoW 360 is ever made, mybe it will ship with a keyboard like the one in the messenger kit.

Mokenatale
Mokenatale

WoW on the 360? can't be done, there arent enough buttons to use all the controls you use in WoW it's physically impossible and i'd like to see some1 prove me wrong

Scoota123
Scoota123

[ Also, the PC hardware required to run the game costs several times the hard drive-enabled 360's $399 sticker price]--WTF??? is this several times more than the 360's price? Minimum system requirements for this game are Pentium 3/AMD 800 MHz, 256mb ram, 32mb gfx card, eg NVIDIA geforce 2......... Building a pc like that would cost you next to nothing even when this article was written...

Blind-Justice
Blind-Justice

LinKuei_warrior, XBL would not need to support the players because they would be connecting to the WoW servers, not the XBL servers. Personally I'd love WoW360 but it prob aint gonna happen, so I can keep going back and forth for both till the day comes where they decided to go console with it haha. Though getting on Vent/TS would be hard on 360 lol.

LinKuei_warrior
LinKuei_warrior

LMAO!If Wow goes to 360///will Xbox LIVE be able to support a hell of alot of players!?!??

NamAim
NamAim

Wow. I just remembered this article and I must say that I am very disappointed with the Gamespot article writers. Neil is a respectable man and I highly doubt that he posted a fake GTA site just to "fool people". You should know that many Gtaportable fans constantly make fun of Neil on his own comments boards claiming he steals from his website and other derogatories (ie: someone will say their name is Neil Christie and say that "I'm a gay **** or something to the extent). Just because some immature hate mongerers don't like a website does not mean Gamespot should endorse their hate. And what do you know. Vice City Stories did come out. I'm sorry Tor, but research a little before you start making accusations. (PS: I hope you've written an appology to Neil, cause if you haven't you should)

Lanik
Lanik

This to me is not a good idea, no offence I love wow but on the 360 they would have so much time and hassle making it look good. Updates would probably be weekly and how will we pay for it. If x-box live run how will we communicate using mics will be anoying if linked like the LFG channel. Also wow exspansion is coming out on the pc so there is no point. If wow is like oblivion the story will be different and dungeons wont be challenging.

fatalityuk
fatalityuk

yeah well as a loyal 360 owner i will choose to not sell my 360 to get a ps3 ill just buy both. wow on 360 sounds good if they did it the way FFXI has been done with them joining pc servers. i myself have only just started playing wow on pc 3 days ago and im addicted. in fact the only reason im on here now is because the servers are down for maintenance, lol. also to build a pc that could play wow would cost $250 easy. thing is if you cant build pcs then add a couple of hundred on to that and buy it from a shop. :-P

Azteroid
Azteroid

i disagree with this supposed bloodfang36 character halo3 on xbox360 will make absolutely no difference playstation fans will stay loyal to the ps3 besides have a look at the ps3 titles I dont think anyone could turn down a bit of metal gear 4 or resident evil 5

Samuraidragons
Samuraidragons

i so hope wow comes to 360 as my computer certainly can't handle it

Callail
Callail

WoW coming to 360 would be da best game on da system imho

mjk_1
mjk_1

sweet... vice city stories.. hope it comes to ps2 and xbox aswell

badfur0
badfur0

i hope WoW will be on xbox 360

kyuvildens
kyuvildens

i've only recently started playing WOW in May 2005. When the 360 came out i had to make a very hard decision.... Work on my 360 gamerscore or lvl my characters to lvl 60? we'll with a gamerscore of 6000+ I think you know the decision i've made. But when i heard a very quiet rumor that WOW is coming to the 360 i **** my pants and started researching!! I've come to the conclusion that if WOW ever does come out to the 360 my life we'll then be owned to Azeroth....man i miss you Azeroth!

CursiveSaturn
CursiveSaturn

pls pls pls pls pls pls pls let WoW be on the 360. Itd possibley be even better than Oblivin!!! I also argee with everything Bloodfang36 said

bloodfang36
bloodfang36

OMFGZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!! World of Warcaft for Xbox 360?!?! I swear to God, that if Microsoft do that, they will SLAUGHTER Ps3, and possibly any of its future titles. Sales will go thorugh the roof [for the xbox 360] and theyll be getting a crap-load more subscriptions for XBL. DO MS. You know you want to.

tgawn
tgawn

is this about a new GTA for the PSP??? is it: toures? tours? stoures? or stours?