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What we heard: The PSP Go--the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo'sworst kept secret--is reportedly no more, according to a recent report. According to a blog entry from a Japanese Sony Shop employee, Sony has killed off the PSP Go. The blog claims that production of the portable device has ceased and that shops will not receive future shipments of the device.
Further, the device cannot be purchased through the Japanese Sony Style website, where it is listed as out of stock, with no time frame offered for when new units will arrive. It is still available via the North American Sony Style page for $200.
The PSP Go--which debuted in North America on Oct. 1 2009 at $250--lacks a UMD drive, favoring instead digital media downloaded through the PlayStation Store. The device is also slimmer than the PSP-3000, which Sony continues to sell, and features 16GB of on-board flash memory.
The official story: As of press time, Sony has not responded to GameSpot's request for comment or clarification on the matter.
Bogus or not bogus:? Sony is clearly ready to embrace a new handheld future, as it is preparing its Next Generation Portable for release by the end of 2011. As such, the PSP Go has to be phased out sometime--it's just a question of when, not if.
Media Create Japanese weekly sales figures have the portable rarely breaking 1,000 units sold. That stands in stark comparison to the regular PSP, which is currently the most popular platform in the island nation. During one week in February, the PSP outsold its digital distribution-focused counterpart 1,000 to 1.
What we heard: Yesterday, the game-industry news matrix was roiled by rumors that Nintendo may unveil the Wii's successor at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June. Hot on the heels of that speculation comes new purported details about the new console, the existence of which has not been confirmed by Nintendo.
According to CVG's sources, the new console's controller will sport "built-in" HD video screens. "Nintendo's plans sound unreal," the source said. "Publishers are already planning launch titles, and it's all very exciting. The hardware is even more powerful than current HD consoles and backwards compatible with Wii."
But that's not all. According to 01net.com, the controller will be a tablet, or an "iPad with buttons." The French site also reports the console--apparently code-named Project Cafe--will have a beefy triple-core IBM CPU, not unlike that of the Xbox 360, making porting games to the console easier than before. Indeed, the site reports that Nintendo is making third-party outreach a major priority for its next console, given the perception the Wii was slanted in favor of first-party software.
The official story: Nintendo had not commented as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not enough evidence to go either way. However, the sudden onrush of information points to a leak somewhere--whether it's legit will be determined in the coming weeks.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Though not as big a hit as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire was one of BioWare's premiere role-playing games of the last generation. Released in 2005 on the original Xbox and then in 2007 for the PC, the martial-arts-heavy, Eastern-themed title established a sizeable following on the back of solid reviews.
So strong was Jade Empire's reception that in November 2005, BioWare cofounder and then-joint-CEO Ray Muzkya revealed that his company was working on a sequel. "BioWare definitely plans to continue the Jade Empire franchise," he declared. "The Jade team did a great job with the first game in that series; we have great teams working on all of our games here. We've also said in the past that we're working on not just one, but two Xbox 360 titles. Enough said."
In October 2009, though, BioWare was more circumspect on the project, with Dragon Age lead designer Mike Laidlaw casting doubt on whether a follow-up was in active development. "We will certainly announce it if it's going to be coming out," he said. "At this point, Jade Empire is a staff favorite, and a lot of us love it, so we'd love to revisit it at some point. But right now, we are very focused on Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2."
This week comes with an indicator that Jade Empire 2 was indeed in active development--and that it will likely never see the light of day. On his LinkedIn profile, a former senior designer lists "Jade Empire 2 (360/PS3/PC)" amongst the unreleased projects he has worked on. In this case, "unreleased" appears to mean canceled, since other projects he lists in that category include the confirmed-dead Gun 2 and True Crime 3, which he worked on while at Activision.
The official story: "It's EA's policy not to comment on rumors or speculation."--EA BioWare rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus. Jade Empire certainly had potential--enough potential for BioWare sign a one-time deal with 2K Games just to get the title on the PC. (The original was published by Microsoft Game Studios.) However, following BioWare's purchase by Electronic Arts in 2007, it appears that the sequel didn't make the cut when compared to the Canadian studio's other hot properties.
Source: GameStop-owned Game Informer magazine.
What we heard: One look at the Wii's upcoming lineup, and it's hard not to notice the dearth of titles en route for the console in the next couple of months. Some have taken this anemic activity as an indication that Nintendo will soon be abandoning the platform as it turns its attention to the Wii's inevitable successor. That theory has now been lent more credence, courtesy of a report from Game Informer.
According to a report on the magazine's website, Nintendo will announce an HD-enabled successor to the Wii at or before this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, which runs June 7-9. Citing "multiple sources," the website states that the console is in development for release in late 2012.
Game Informer's sources were less clear on what consumers can expect from the Wii follow-up. Beyond high-definition output, there seems to be disagreement over the system's graphical horsepower and whether it will match, exceed, or fall short of what's currently available through the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The sources also did not provide any information as to what, if any, characteristics the new console will share with the Wii. This includes whether or not it will support backward compatibility, motion controllers, or even Wii branding.
However, Game Informer's tipsters did say that Nintendo has already begun showcasing the console's technology to publishers. The move comes as part of an effort to cultivate greater third-party publisher support--a noted shortcoming of the 85 million-unit-selling Wii.
Rumblings of a Wii successor date back to 2008, when Nintendo president Satoru Iwata indicated that a new console was in production. One feature that seems unlikely is stereoscopic 3D, which was counted out by Nintendo of America head Reggie Fils-Aime in an interview with CNN last month.
The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."--A Nintendo representative.
Bogus or not bogus: Looking not bogus. With rumors of a $50 price cut to the Wii swirling, Nintendo has for some time been grappling with flagging interest in its best-selling console. As Sony and Microsoft ostensibly settle in for the long haul with the motion controller-compatible PS3 and Xbox 360, Nintendo will need to achieve graphical parity to maintain a competitive position in the market. And it will need to do so soon.
Source: Technology blog Engadget.
What we heard: The Nintendo Wii burst onto the gaming scene in November 2006 at the going rate of $250. Nintendo's white knight sold millions at that MSRP for over two years before the Japanese game company cut its price to $199 at the end of 2009. Now, as industry analyst Michael Pachter said in May, it appears the Wii's price will drop to $150.
The news stems from tech blog Engadget, which cites a "trusted source," who tells the site Nintendo is prepared to drop the price of the Nintendo Wii to $150 on May 15. Further, according to the report, the $150 price tag would also include a copy of the portly plumber's well-received racing game Mario Kart Wii.
The official story: A company rep told GameSpot, "Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."
Bogus or not bogus?: With the Wii having been regularly outsold by the Xbox 360 over the past few months, the time seems right for Nintendo to cut the price of the system. As for the purported May 15 date when the price change is to go into effect, a more likely time for the announcement to be made would seem to be the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is slated for June 7-9.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Internet hacktivism has in large part been led in recent years by the loose collective known as Anonymous. The group has taken up the causes of a variety of free speech and Internet freedom advocates, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and US military whistle-blower Bradley Manning, using means that include distributed denial of service attacks to take retribution on perceived oppressors.
Now, it appears as if the plight of PlayStation 3 jailbreaker George Hotz (aka GeoHot) is the latest cause to have been taken up by Anonymous. In a post to its message board, the loose-knit organization appears to have declared war on Sony over legal action it has taken against Hotz as well as members of the fail0verflow hacking collective, including PS3 hacker Graf_Chokolo.
"Congratulations! You are now receiving the attention of Anonymous," the declaration reads. "Your recent legal actions against fellow internet citizens, GeoHot and Graf_Chokolo have been deemed an unforgivable offense against free speech and internet freedom, primary sources of free lulz (and you know how we feel about lulz.)"
"You have abused the judicial system in an attempt to censor information about how your products work," the message continued. "You have victimized your own customers merely for possessing and sharing information, and continue to target those who seek this information. In doing so you have violated the privacy of thousands of innocent people who only sought the free distribution of information.
"Your suppression of this information is motivated by corporate greed and the desire for complete control over the actions of individuals who purchase and use your products, at least when those actions threaten to undermine the corrupt stranglehold you seek to maintain over copywrong, oops, 'copyright.'"
The manifesto of sorts concludes by saying that the group will attack Sony's private domains. And, perhaps coincidentally enough, Sony appears to be suffering some stability issues today through the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network.
GameSpot has found that the PSN is experiencing intermittent service and general lag while performing a variety of activities, including browsing and downloading through the PlayStation Store, receiving updates, and using the console's Internet browser. GameSpot has also encountered a variety of error messages, including, "An error has occurred during the installation operation (80710B23)."
Beyond the possible DDoS attack, Anonymous is attempting to organize a sit-in of sorts at SonyStyle stores. According to the group's Facebook page, the public action is being planned for April 16-17.
The official story: It is unclear whether the PSN's intermittent connectivity is a result of an Internet attack or general maintenance. In a post to its Twitter feed, the PS3 maker said, "PSN currently undergoing sporadic maintenance. Access to the PSN may be interrupted throughout the day. We apologize for any inconvenience."
Further, the publisher does not appear to be experiencing any issues with PlayStation.com or the PlayStation Blog. Sony had not responded to a request for comment on the alleged Anonymous attack as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: As yet unclear. Sony is clearly suffering a bout of instability on the PSN side, but it remains to be seen whether this is due to a DDoS attack or to routine maintenance.
Source: Enthusiast game blog Joystiq.
What we heard: The Online Pass initiative first gained steam last year, when Electronic Arts announced that the online modes for its sports titles would be free for those who purchased the game new but require a buy-in for secondhand users. THQ quickly adopted a similar strategy for many of its games--most recently the platinum-selling Homefront--and it appears as if Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is next.
Joystiq reports this week that it has obtained a memo from WBIE to retailers detailing an Online Pass initiative for the upcoming NetherRealm-developed fighter Mortal Kombat. According to the memo, Mortal Kombat will ship with a one-time use code that grants access to its online modes. However, those who pick up the game secondhand must pay $10 (800 Microsoft points) to play online.
"Mortal Kombat, available on April 19 for the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, includes a one-time-use registration code that gives players access to all online modes in the game," the note reportedly reads. "Players who do not have a code will get a free two-day trial of the online play and then be able to purchase the online modes for 800 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live Marketplace and $9.99 on the PlayStation Network."
The official story: Warner Bros.' PR agency had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus: Looking not bogus. Publishers have been keen on monetizing used-game sales and rentals, and EA's Online Pass method doesn't appear to have negatively impacted sales. Its wider adoption appears to be inevitable.
Source: Eurogamer's hardware-focused blog Digital Foundry.
What we heard: Disc-format changes aren't exactly the sexiest of features that can be included in a firmware update, but Microsoft's new method, announced yesterday, may be more attractive than it seemed on first blush.
Digital Foundry reports that "a highly placed development source" has informed it that Microsoft's new format will include an extra 1GB of storage space for Xbox 360 game discs. According to Eurogamer's hardware blog, developers are currently able to allocate 6.8GB of game data out of a maximum of 7.95GB on a typical dual-layer DVD.
The remaining 1GB is reportedly allocated to DVD Video and antipiracy. According to the site's source, Microsoft will be doing away with the video segment of this 1GB partition, thus being able to free up more space for game data.
As part of the new System Update Preview Program for US-based Xbox 360 owners, Xbox Live users can sign up to test the program and receive a free copy of Halo: Reach. However, there's a catch: Microsoft warned that it is possible that the beta test will result in a nonfunctioning console.
The official story: "We don't have any additional details to share at this time," a Microsoft representative told GameSpot.
Bogus or not bogus?: It's possible, but there's not enough information to say one way or the other. However, it seems likely that the extra storage space would be a boon to many developers.
Source: A voice-over casting call on the Actors Pages website (spotted by the blog Revolt-tech).
What we heard: Earlier this month, a casting call surfaced for an "interactive project" called "Rush," which many suspect is a cover name for Grand Theft Auto V. The main reason for suspicion was the over-the-top nature of the characters and an association to Rockstar's go-to casting studio Telsey & Company. The casting clues also appeared to indicate the series would return to the West Coast, site of the popular--and famously controversial--Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Now, another casting call has emerged with a more concrete link to the GTA universe in the form of a character from San Andreas. Though the Actors Pages, which went up earlier today, has the production company and casting agency listed as private, it does list one of the roles being cast as one James Pedeaston.
Though not a major character in San Andreas, Pedeaston did make a humorous impact as the host of the Wild Traveler show on the WCTR radio station. On the program, he waxed poetic about his too-close-for-comfort relationship with a young boy in Sri Lanka, with his tales of exotic exploits offending listeners so much that they would call in to protest.
Pedeaston also made an appearance in Grand Theft Auto IV, albeit in a far reduced form. The game's Internet cafes allowed players to access the site freejames.org, which was set up following the character's 2003 arrest and subsequent conviction in Bali, Indonesia, on suspicion of child molestation. That latter detail is important, since the casting call describes Pedeaston as "a man-boy love activist who just got released from an Indonesian prison."
Given the solid link between the GTA series and the casting call, it is likely the other characters listed could make an appearance in an upcoming GTA game. These include: Matthew, "a liberal young male who believes in a conspiracy made by Republicans to undermine America"; Jose, "a white creepy man who thinks that technology is a poison against the wilderness"; and Anthony, "a young, fast-talking boy fighting for the right of young boys to drink alcohol and have sex." Another character, Samantha, further cements the West Coast connection, since she is "a young female obsessed with sex parties, always dreaming of being a Hollywood celebrity." (Emphasis added.)
The official story: "We don't comment on rumors or speculation."--Rockstar Games rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.
Source: Resumes on an animator's personal website and LinkedIn profile (as spotted by SystemLink) listing animation work for God of War 4 among his previous experience.
What we heard: Even though God of War III wrapped up the series' various storylines, there's little reason to think that Sony would let the lucrative franchise or its homicidal star lie dormant for too long a time. The animator's resumes suggest that dormant period won't be very long at all, as they specify that the worker spent last summer doing freelance work for Motion Logic Studios, with a cinematic test for God of War 4 among the projects he worked on.
The SystemLink story has a screenshot of the animator's LinkedIn page specifying his work on God of War 4, but the actual profile has since been updated to reference instead an "unannounced PS3 game." His personal site has also been updated to remove mention of God of War 4.
Before being altered, the animator's resumes indicated he worked on "game cinematic tests" for God of War 4. Cinematic tests can be done as a sort of proof of concept for games that aren't yet given the green light, but odds are good that the title "God of War 4" was all the proof Sony needed.
The idea that there's more God of War on the way is unsurprising at best. After all, Sony Computer Entertainment America Santa Monica is currently hiring a new programmer to "join the God of War team!" However, that same job listing requests experience with matchmaking, suggesting the next God of War game would introduce online multiplayer to the series for the first time. This animator's resumes only suggest that the game in development is in fact a full-fledged sequel to the series, and not a multiplayer-driven half-step successor along the lines of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
When contacted by GameSpot, the animator in question said he used God of War as inspiration when taking a test for Sony to prove he could animate their characters. He stressed that he did not work on a God of War project, nor is he aware of an existing project."
The Official Story: A Sony representative told GameSpot the company does not comment on rumor or speculation about its products.
Bogus or Not Bogus: Regardless of the animator's resumes, not bogus that more God of War is on the way.
Source: Gaming blog The Noble Eskimo.
What we heard: It's been nearly three years since Grand Theft Auto IV became an international sensation, and with Rockstar offering not even the slightest hint on what the next installment entails, anticipation is rapidly reaching a fever pitch. It comes as no surprise, then, that the rumor mill has begun churning, beginning earlier this month with word that the game may be set in Los Angeles.
Yesterday, a doozie of a detail appeared to emerge, when low-profile gaming blog The Noble Eskimo reported that Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin, Problem Child) had been cast to lend his notoriously grating voice to the lead role for Grand Theft Auto V. The source of the information, according to the site, was Gottfried himself, who purportedly updated his Twitter feed with the news.
"Just found out I'm voicing the lead in grand theft auto 5! also I hate japan lol," the tweet reportedly read. The Noble Eskimo claimed to have spotted the tweet before it was deleted.
The information appeared to have an air of truth to it. If there's a common link between Rockstar Games and Gottfried, it's a shared irreverent streak. Gottfried himself is coming off a round of negative press, after comments he made on his Twitter feed resulted in him losing his job as the voice of insurance-company Aflec's iconic duck.
Further, Gottfried has a background doing voice work for games. Most notably, he voiced Iago (of Aladdin fame) in Square Enix and Disney's crossover role-playing franchise Kingdom Hearts.
The official story: The problem here, of course, is that the entire thing was a joke. "I didn't realize this story would make such a splash," The Noble Eskimo told GameSpot. "Everything I write is fake and for kicks, including the Gottfried article."
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.
What we heard: In console generations past, five years has been the approximate time frame companies have kept to for releasing their new hardware. However, this generation has been anything but ordinary, and it appears as if Microsoft is only just now getting serious about a successor to its current-generation system.
Over the weekend, ZDNet (which, like GameSpot, is owned by CBS Interactive) uncovered an image within Peterson's design portfolio that indicates Microsoft is targeting a new Xbox-related hardware launch for 2015.
The image in question is titled "Microsoft Xbox," and it bears the following description: "Confidential / Collaboration with Microsoft’s [Interactive Entertainment Business] Design group investigating future user experiences and hardware for 2015. *Work samples only permissible in person.* (March 2011)."
The image itself appears to be a zoomed-in look at a piece of concept art for the aforementioned "future user experiences and hardware." It resembles a number of other teaser images on Peterson's website, one of which is for Pranav Mistry's gestural recognition technology Sixth Sense.
According to Peterson, he worked on "A foreign travel companion device in collaboration with Pranav Mistry's SixthSense gestural recognition technology" in March 2010. However, this listing was apparently news to Mistry, who told GameSpot that he did not know Peterson and "he did not work on Sixth Sense."
Operating under the assumption that Peterson's portfolio is valid, it remains to be seen whether his alleged design work is for an all-new Xbox console or a new peripheral in the same vein as the Xbox 360's lifespan-extending motion-sensor add-on Kinect. However, considering the Xbox 360 will be 10 years old in 2015 and thatit only took Microsoft two years to take Kinect from its early design and prototype phase to global launch, the former seems more likely.
Microsoft has also indicated via job listings that it is staffing up for its next-generation console. Earlier this month, several job postings on LinkedIn indicated that Microsoft is forming a team "responsible for defining and delivering next generation console architectures from conception through implementation." One of these positions, Wireless DV Engineer, will play "a key role in the development and verification of the Xbox and future platforms."
The official story: Neither Microsoft nor Ben Peterson had responded to GameSpot's request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus, for now. Mistry's flat-out denial that Peterson "collaborated" on his piece of technology raises eyebrows about what other misunderstandings or errors may be included on the site.
UPDATE: Ben Peterson, the industrial designer whose online portfolio started rumours of a an Xbox 360 successor, told Eurogamer the whole thing was a hoax. "I'm a student designer, it's not real," he told the publication.
Source: A Kotaku story citing a survey conducted on behalf of Ubisoft.
What we heard: According to the report, Ubisoft commissioned online research firm Toluna to survey US adults about Sony's upcoming NGP handheld. Specifically, the survey asked about price points, stating that the 3G-enabled version of the system would sell for around $350, with a 3G-less counterpart on sale for $250. After presenting those numbers to respondents, the survey asked, "How likely would you be to purchase the Sony NGP now that you know this retail price?"
The first noteworthy point about the survey is that it suggests US gamers will be getting two different models of the NGP. Previously, it had been confirmed that Europe would get versions of the handheld with and without 3G, while all Japanese NGP systems would feature the mobile network capability.
While the $350 figure is in the ballpark previously proposed by one analyst, the idea of a $250 model of the NGP is a bit lower than expected and would put the system's cost on equal footing with that of its primary competitor, Nintendo's 3DS. That would also put the NGP's price in line with that of the original PSP, which debuted in March of 2005 in a $250 "Value Pack" with a memory stick, soft case, and UMD copy of the film Spider-Man 2.
However, the supposed $100 difference in price for the two is interesting for a few reasons, especially since Sony hasn't communicated exactly how core 3G will be to the NGP experience. Apple's recently launched iPad 2 also comes in models with and without 3G support, but the difference in cost between those is $130, and users are able to subscribe to data plans on a month-by-month basis with no contracts. In the NGP's case, it's unclear what sort of data plans would be allowed or required.
On the surface, it seems like a $100 surcharge for 3G might be unreasonable, but the Kotaku report (and presumably, the survey in question) makes no mention as to what else would come with that configuration of the system. If, like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the NGP launched with a premium version of the system, including a number of additional accessories, more storage space, or even pack-in games, the $350 package could still be attractive to consumers despite a budget alternative.
The official story: "That's purely speculative."--A Sony representative.
A North American Ubisoft representative was unable to confirm the authenticity of the survey as of press time and said the publisher would be unable to comment on the NGP price anyway.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus that anything is set in stone. It would be great if Sony could hit those price points, but a final determination on price and hardware configurations is likely yet to be made.
[CORRECTION]: This article originally reported the price difference between 3G-enabled iPads and standard models as $30. We regret the error.
Source: Consumer gaming blog Kotaku.
What we heard: Not a month after pulling the plug on future installments in the Guitar Hero and DJ Hero franchises, it appears as if Activision may not be entirely done with the rhythm game genre.
Kotaku reports today that Activision has begun work on a new property called Dance Hero. According to the website's source, the game will capitalize on the burgeoning motion-controlled dance genre, which has seen recent hits such as Harmonix's Dance Central, Ubisoft's Just Dance, and Majesco's Zumba Fitness.
The publisher has apparently already begun licensing music for use in the game. Songs named by Kotaku's source include Jay Sean's "2012," The Prodigy's "Out of Space," Timbaland's "The Way I Are," and Afrojack's "Take Over Control."
The dance genre has been on Activision's radar since 2008, when it filed a trademark application for "Dance Hero" with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The filing came as part of Activision's massive, and ultimately self-destructive, expansion of the Guitar Hero brand, which saw the flagship franchise augmented by band-themed installments from the likes of Aerosmith and Metallica, as well as age-targeted versions, such as Band Hero.
The official story: Activision had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or Not Bogus?: Looking not bogus. If there's one thing Activision knows, it's how to cash in on a trend while it's hot--and the dance genre is certainly that. In November, Dance Central and Just Dance 2 were tagged as the sole bright spots in the all-but-comatose rhythm game genre, thanks to their use of new motion-detected control schemes. More recently, in January, Majesco scored a surprise NPD hit with Zumba Fitness, which was the fifth best-selling game during the month.
Source: The Twitter feed of expert Internet sleuth Superannuation.
What we heard: Up until recently, the Grand Theft Auto franchise was publisher Take-Two Interactive's main moneymaker. Since then, Take-Two has begun to expand its top-flight portfolio with the likes of Red Dead Redemption and BioShock 2. However, the franchise that continues to command the most attention remains GTA.
Nearly three years removed from the top-rated release of GTAIV, and it's possible that the first tidbits of GTAV info have been puzzled out by Superannuation. The posts began in late February, when the Internet sleuth discovered an actor's resume with a since-deleted reference to motion-capture work on Grand Theft Auto V. This motion-capture find, he said, led him to further investigation into motion-capture casting calls for Rockstar's go-to casting studio Telsey & Company.
"Among the projects listed in the casting call was an 'interactive project' called 'Rush,' which featured characters that fit with the few details I heard about GTA5; outlandish characters, weed, gangsters, & celebrities fit the profile for a contemporary LA-set GTA game," Superannuation tweeted.
The casting call in question, which commenced on December 6, sought actors to do motion capture and voice work for eight "additional principal characters" on the interactive project. The personalities have a decidedly Rockstar feel, with stock characters such as the "annoying, wise cracking, highly successful FBI agent" mixed with absurd personalities such as the "Welsh monk / cult leader / yoga teacher - 50, very lithe, very into exploring your personal tension through gripping massage."
Other characters referenced in the listing include a "weed evangelist"; a "swinger, mellow Californian divorcee" who is "ugly but comfortable with self"; and a "publicist for an actress known as America's newest sweetheart…who just so happens to love animals, orphans, drugs and sex."
Superannuation also secured a direct link between "Rush" and Rockstar Games, again courtesy of a self-promotional actor. On September 9, professional wrestler and aspiring actor Robert Esparza tweeted, "Got body scanned for my role in the video game 'Rush', coming out on Rockstar Games."
Should Rockstar choose to set GTAV on the West Coast, it wouldn't be a first for the franchise. The highly regarded GTA: San Andreas featured Los Angeles and San Francisco-inspired cities, complete with their surrounding boroughs. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time that Rockstar has returned to a locale, as GTAIV and GTAIII both took place on the mean streets of Liberty City, which bears more than a passing resemblance to New York.
The official word: Rockstar had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or Not Bogus?: A very tentative not bogus. What seems clear, at least, is that Rockstar is prepping some project under the name "Rush" and that the project will have an eclectic cast of characters that mesh with the GTA universe. Unfortunately, Take-Two has not even announced GTAV yet, so it may be some time before the industry gets an official look at the title.
What we heard: Last year, Capcom released the first details of the Japanese arcade edition of Super Street Fighter IV, announcing the sibling pair of Yun and Yang from Street Fighter III would be added to the game. The publisher followed that up by adding two more characters to the roster: Evil Ryu and Oni, an amped-up version of Akuma. Unfortunately, Capcom has been cagey about whether or not these characters would ever make the leap to consoles.
Hope for that faded earlier today when Andria Sang published a report based on an article in the latest issue of Weekly Famitsu. According to the blog, Ono told the magazine there were no plans to bring the characters to consoles, as some of them were overpowered, and the developers had tried their best to keep the console playing field level.
However, Ono rekindled optimism for a console conversion of the arcade characters shortly after. When one Twitter user asked if it was true that the arcade upgrades for Super Street Fighter IV would be skipping the consoles, Ono replied, "Over my dead body!! It all right!" When another fan asked for news of a console port given that Ono's latest project, Super Street Fighter IV 3D for the 3DS, has launched in Japan, the developer simply asked people to wait until after the game launches in the US and Europe as well.
It's clear that Ono wants the extra characters to make their way to consoles, and Super Street Fighter IV fans no doubt want the same thing. But given his statement to Weekly Famitsu that there are no plans at the moment, it would appear Capcom has not yet committed to it. Capcom's heavily hyped Marvel vs. Capcom 3 did just arrive on shelves, and the publisher could be reluctant to do anything that would diminish the community that title is building, such as giving Super Street Fighter IV fans a reason to stick with their old favorite instead of picking up the new release.
The official word: Capcom representatives had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus? Looking not bogus that the extra characters will eventually hit the console Super Street Fighter IV in some form.
Source: Gaming blog Kotaku's Australian arm.
What we heard: At last year's Game Developers Conference, Bungie's writer/design director Joseph Staten offered a teasing bit of intel on the studio's first post-Halo title.
"I think it's a shame that we spent so much time working on this world called Halo and then we only let people spend six or eight or 10 hours in it," Staten said. "Wouldn't it be great if we could make a world that was always there for you, with lots of stories to tell, like a big, infinite storytelling horizon? Man, that would be great."
Now, a source speaking with Kotaku Australia says Bungie is currently crafting a massively multiplayer online first-person shooter titled Destiny. The source is reportedly one of about 30 contractors recently reportedly let go without justification from the project.
According to the source, Destiny--which is codenamed Tiger in development--will run on an entirely new game engine and will sport "unique online connectivity and matchmaking technology." The source said Bungie's MMOG will be "WoW in space."
Currently, all that is officially known is that Bungie is creating an all-new multiplatform universe as part of its 10-year publishing deal with megapublisher Activision.
The official word: As of press time, Activision has not responded to GameSpot's request for comment or clarification on the matter. However, Bungie did address the termination aspect of the source's story by bluntly refuting it.
"Bungie has never been asked to lay off any employees or contract employees by our publisher, Activision Blizzard, for any reason," reads the statement. "The talented professionals who grace our offices day in and day out are the lifeblood of Bungie--our most cherished commodity--and the unsubstantiated rumors posted today are in direct opposition to the culture and values that we believe make Bungie an exceptional place to work and to call home."
Bogus or not bogus?: Bungie's statement at the GDC certainly contains language emblematic of the massively multiplayer online genre. Moreover, Bungie is an established first-person shooter developer, so if the studio were to create an MMOG, a first-person shooter style would seem a likely fit.
Source: Tech blog Engadget.
What we heard: As evidenced by the thousands of titles available in the App Store, Apple has already found success in gaming. One iOS title, Angry Birds, was even nominated for Game of the Year at last night's Interactive Achievement Awards.
Now, according to the tech blog Engadget, Apple may be bringing games to another of its platforms. According to a tech-savvy tipster, there are numerous references to games in the code of the new iOS 4.3 beta 3 firmware. The code contains references to "ATVGames" as well as "ATVThunder," which apparently is an as-yet-unseen controller of some sort. The code also reportedly contains references to Apple TV leaderboards, a storefront, and "game scheduling"--perhaps a reference to multiplayer.
Engadget goes on to theorize that because of Apple TV's low storage capacity--just 8GB--Apple might be planning some kind of game-streaming service a la OnLive. However, it has no evidence in the code to back it up.
The official story: Apple had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Rumors about Apple getting into console gaming have come and gone, but if the code is as convincing as Engadget says, then it is looking not bogus…that Apple has inserted some kind of Apple TV gaming code, anyway. What form gaming might take on Apple TV, however, remains to be seen.
Source: A report on UK gaming site MCV says rumors are circulating that Activision is looking to acquire Take-Two Interactive.
What we heard: The MCV article cites "a senior executive" as saying that rumors are floating around other bigwigs in the game industry that Activision is considering making a play for Take-Two. GameSpot's own sources added to that, saying there had been some talks between the companies.
An Activision-Take-Two union would indeed be industry-shaking, but not entirely unprecedented. After all, Activision in 2007 merged with Vivendi Games in an $18.9 billion deal, bringing genre-dominating franchises like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty under the same roof and relegating Electronic Arts to the position of the industry's second-biggest third-party publisher.
However, beyond Call of Duty and Blizzard's offerings, Activision's lineup has been shrinking of late. This week the publisher disbanded its Guitar Hero division, signaling an end to the mainstream phenomenon's six-year run. It also confirmed that the annualized Tony Hawk franchise would be taking 2011 off at least, and scrapped the open-world crime game True Crime: Hong Kong.
A Take-Two acquisition would help fill some of those holes in the lineup, most notably with Rockstar Games' own open-world crime series, Grand Theft Auto. Take-Two also boasts Rockstar's latest hit, Red Dead Redemption, as well as popular franchises like BioShock, Civilization, XCOM, Max Payne, and Borderlands. Another potentially attractive aspect of an acquisition would be 2K Sports, which recently scored a hit with the Michael Jordan-fronted NBA 2K11, and also includes the Top Spin, MLB 2K, and NHL 2K franchises.
If Activision were to purchase Take-Two, not only would it give the publisher a competitive foothold in the sports market against EA, but it would also one-up its largest rival at the same time. In February of 2008, EA attempted to purchase Take-Two for roughly $2 billion. When Take-Two executives declined the offer, EA made its intentions public and tried to buy the company directly from Take-Two shareholders. The companies jousted for months, with EA eventually withdrawing its offers and walking away in September of that year.
However, simply having talks is a long way from a done deal. After all, EA and Take-Two had talks that fell through, even though the Madden publisher's $2 billion offer included a steep premium above and beyond the Take-Two stock price. It's hard to see Take-Two saying yes to a lower offer now that Red Dead Redemption has panned out as a franchise-worthy blockbuster possibly along the lines of Grand Theft Auto. It's also hard to see the famously frugal Activision matching EA's previous number when the economic recovery is only now accelerating and Take-Two's stock is even lower now than it was before EA's initial advances. (Take-Two shares hit a low of $15.83 in February 2008, but haven't topped $15.51 this month.)
There's also the matter of corporate culture clash. When Activision brought Blizzard into the fold, it was willing to let the company operate almost autonomously because of its proven track record of smash hits. On the other hand, Take-Two habitually delays its high-profile games (Max Payne 3, L.A. Noire, Duke Nukem Forever, Mafia II, Red Dead Redemption, BioShock 2, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Borderlands, and Grand Theft Auto IV, to name a few), and the wait doesn't always pay off in a monster hit.
Activision's approach to publishing is based more on surefire blockbuster hits like the Call of Duty series and on licensed titles with reliable audiences that can turn at least a modest profit, like Spider-Man, James Bond, Bakugan, and the Cabela's hunting games. While Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption might buy Rockstar Games a measure of independence from Activision's standard operating procedure, it's not at all clear how the rest of the Take-Two operation would be folded into Activision, or what level of autonomy they would be granted.
The official story: "We don't comment on rumors and speculation."--A Take-Two representative. Activision representatives had not returned requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus: Not bogus that Activision and Take-Two are talking about an acquisition. But there are a lot of logistical issues that would need to be agreed upon before anything is finalized, not the least of which is a price.
What we heard: Last week, Microsoft announced that a new Halo: Reach map pack would be arriving "very soon," but it did not offer further comment on the matter. Now, it appears the content's cover has been blown.
French Halo fan site Halo Destiny posted several low-resolution images of what looks to be the follow-up to the Noble Map Pack, which was released in late November. According to the site (via Joystiq since the site removed its information and images at the request of Microsoft) the Defiant Map Pack will include three new multiplayer environments: Condemned, Unearthed, and Highlands.
According to Joystiq, Condemned takes place on a human ship, Unearthed is a more spacious environment, and Highlands sports a massive Covenant ship in the backdrop seen laying waste to something with its purple beam.
The images remain available as of publishing on the Halo Destiny Flickr account. They include shots of the above maps, as well as images of the maps as seen in the game's menus. The Highlands environment is referred to as Training Preserve on the photo site.
The official story: A Microsoft representative told GameSpot "We can confirm there will be additional downloadable content for Halo: Reach in the future; however, we have nothing to announce at this time."
Bogus or not bogus?: Certainly not bogus that there will be another map pack in Halo: Reach's future, as Microsoft has confirmed its existence. Also, the purported screenshots certainly are emblematic of other Halo environments.