After Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne was released last autumn, its title sounded eerily prophetic.
Despite critical acclaim, the sequel to Rockstar's popular graphic-novel-inspired shooter barely broke NPD's top 10 best-selling PC games. In February, Jeffrey L. Lapin, CEO of Rockstar parent Take-Two Interactive, went so far as to blame the publisher's lower-than-expected Q4 2003 earnings on Max Payne 2's lackluster sales.
Today, in Palm Beach, Florida, Lapin echoed those statements. "Max Payne  came out in November and did not do as well as we thought," he said. "In fact, it did fairly poorly compared to our expectations."
However, Lapin surprised some by confirming Take-Two's intent to make Max Payne 3. "There'll be another Max Payne," he said in a presentation at the 17th Annual Bear Stearns Media, Entertainment and Information Conference. "I think we'll take a few years to make the next one that much more spectacular is what we have to do. But it's clearly a brand that everybody knows."
Lapin's comments dispelled the clouds of doubt hanging over the third Max Payne game. Though some had seen Take-Two's registration of the URL www.maxpayne3.com as proof the game was coming out, others pointed out that the URL was registered in 2002, long before Max Payne 2 was even released.
While Max Payne 3 is now all but officially announced, confusion has emerged over who is developing the game. While the first two Max Payne games were developed by Finland-based Remedy Games, Lapin made no mention of them in his comments today. Adding to the uncertainty was a post on Shacknews.com from someone claiming to be Mikael Kasurinen, one of Max Payne 2's level designers. "FYI: We are not making Max Payne 3," read the terse post.
Efforts to contact Remedy were unfruitful as of press time. A Rockstar representative contacted by GameSpot said he had no knowledge that plans for Max Payne 3 were underway, let alone who was developing it.
GameSpot will update this story as developments warrant.