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Source: Japanese gaming news site Andria Sang.
What we heard: Despite the seemingly ironclad release date of Polyphony Digital's long-awaited racer Gran Turismo 5, publisher Sony unexpectedly pushed back the title from its November 2 release date earlier this month. Claiming that the last-minute "executive decision" was made in order to put some of the finishing touches on the title, both Polyphony Digital and Sony said the game would still ship in 2010.
It looks like this claim may be true. Japanese online retailer DMM, as translated by Andria Sang and confirmed by GameSpot AU, has posted a Gran Turismo 5 entry with a release date of December 23. Although the original product listing is no longer available, GameSpot AU tracked down a cached listing showing the same release date. The latter listing is for a GT5 racing pack, which includes a PS3 console and a copy of the game for 35,980 Japanese yen (US$446.09).
According to Andria Sang, the original listing was just for the game, priced at 7,980 Japanese yen (US$98.93); this also included a 308-page booklet and a download code for five cars.
Both listings have since been removed from DMM's website.
The official story: Sony has not yet confirmed a release date for GT5.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus, particularly because Sony was so adamant that the game would still be released "this holiday season," despite its recent delay.
Source: Gaming blog Kotaku.
What we heard: Two days after the PlayStation Phone appears to have been unmasked, new details may have surfaced on the PSP2. Gaming blog Kotaku appears to have a bevy of information on the device, including the fact it will sport dual analog sticks, a larger "HD" screen, and a touch-sensitive pad on the back of the system.
Additionally, the upcoming portable will not have a UMD drive, with games instead coming on memory sticks, according a Kotaku's source. How large the games will be is unclear, as it appears the PSP2 will be a much burlier device under the hood than its predecessor. It will reportedly feature 1GB of RAM, versus the PSP's 64MB and the Xbox 360's 512MB.
One question that remains unanswered is the form factor of the PSP2. Kotaku's sources say that prototypes resembling both the PSP Go and the PSP-3000 were shown behind closed doors at the Tokyo Game Show. However, Sony had reportedly not yet decided on which direction to go in at the time of the event.
The official story: "People are reporting on rumors and calling them details. As you know, we don't coment on rumors or speculation."--Sony rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: Certainly very interesting, especially coming on the heels of the PlayStation Phone photos, which show Sony is using touchpad technology in its portables. However, without more information, it's too early to say either way.
Source: See below.
What we heard: In August, Engadget first reported that Sony Ericsson was working on a new gaming-focused mobile phone resembling a PSP Go. This week, the tech blog published photos of the device (pictured), which indeed showed a PSP Go-esque form factor.
According to Engadget, the phone, code-named "Zeus," will likely run the Android 3.0 operating system--aka Gingerbread--and will run games specifically designed for it. Hardware-wise, it boasts a 1GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 CPU, 512MB of RAM, 1GB of ROM, and a 3.7- to 4.1-inch screen. The prototype also sports the four iconic PlayStation buttons, start/select buttons, a D pad, shoulder buttons, and a touchpad with what appear to be two sensors.
The prototype was touted as being 100 percent authentic by Engadget, which credited "multiple, trusted sources" as leaking the images and information. However, that didn't stop the cries of "fake" from arising shortly after the pictures were made public. The loudest cries came from a confusing report on Now Gamer that simultaneously claimed that "Sony Europe debunked the images as false" while saying the company line was "We do not comment on rumor and speculation."
The official story: Sony had not returned requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus. Besides the usually reliable Engadget's claims of multiple sources, rumors of a PlayStation Phone have been around for years--and the form factor looks consistent with past Sony designs. The most convincing sign that the device is fake is that the menu displays "A" and "B" options for buttons not found on the device itself. Engadget explains that this is because the software is likely an early build using different names for buttons, a contention evidenced by the fact that the menu says the "Z-system" software build is only "0.91.0."
Source: Tsumea, a Web site for Australian and New Zealand game developers.
What we heard: Krome, creator of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, has had a turbulent 12 months. It laid off staff at the end of 2009 across all three of its Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne studios. More positions were eliminated in April this year, with the studio blaming "new challenges" for the cuts.
Things got worse a couple of months ago, when Krome confirmed to GameSpot that it had put an undisclosed number of its staff on notice pending the outcome of several of its projects, shortly after closing the Adelaide studio completely. Once again, Krome blamed external factors, such as economic challenges for the action, but claimed that current and future projects remained unaffected.
Today, Australian and New Zealand developer-focused Web site Tsumea reported on rumours of further layoffs, possibly resulting in the end of the developer altogether. Tsumea cites Twitter posts that suggest cuts at both the remaining Melbourne and Brisbane offices, with a full closure set to occur on Monday. It did, however, claim that some of Krome's employees will be brought back as contractors to finish remaining projects.
The studio recently worked on Game Room for Microsoft's Xbox 360, but its most recent games, Blade Kitten and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, received mediocre to fair reviews. The studio was at one point Australia's largest independent game developer with more than 400 members of staff across its various locations.
The official story: GameSpot contacted Krome's press department for confirmation, but no response was forthcoming as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus that Krome has laid off more staff, but too early to tell if the studio will be closing for good. Given the studio's recent decline, though, the signs aren't good.
Source: Gaming blog Joystiq.
What we heard: When Microsoft ended Xbox Live support for Halo 2 on April 15, it said it was due to the "need to make changes to the service that are incompatible with our original Xbox v1 games." One suspected reason was that the company would be increasing the current Xbox Live friend limit from 100 to a larger number.
Now, it appears the world knows exactly how large. Joystiq spotted a post on Xbox Germany's Facebook page, which said that when the new Xbox Live dashboard update is implemented in the next several weeks, it will increase the limit to a whopping 1,000 friends.
"A lot of long-term change was desired by Xbox Live users [for] the limit of 100 friends. With the update you can now [have] up to 1,000 friends of your friends list," read a Google translation of the post, which also exhorted visitors to find new online companions via Facebook's friend-finder function.
The official story: [UPDATE] The post has since been deleted, but US Xbox Live reps offered the following comment: "To answer your question, we will not be expanding the 100 friends list as a part of the next Xbox LIVE Update. However, we’re always listening to member feedback and looking at new ways to enhance the service."
This afternoon, director of Xbox Live programming seconded that sentiment via his Twitter feed. "Let me straighten things out: We will not be expanding the friends list as a part of the next Xbox Live update," he said.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.
Source: Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, speaking to Now Gamer.
What we heard: Valve's online platform Steam is widely regarded as a leader in the digital distribution space, and the studio has maintained that lead by continuing to introduce features to improve the experience for gamers. This year alone, the Washington studio has rolled out the Steam Wallet to make purchasing content easier, as well as bolstered Mac support with Steam Play.
Today, it appeared as if prominent gaming industry analyst Michael Pachter tipped Valve's hand for the next innovative feature coming to Steam. In an interview with British gaming site Now Gamer, Pachter indicated that Valve would soon allow gamers to trade in their purchases through Steam for new titles.
"Steam is phenomenal; it's a great service," Pachter reportedly said. "Steam gives gamers enough other stuff so that they don't resent the fact they can't trade in their games. And you know, name all the Steam games that you've purchased that you've traded back in to somebody else for credit. Steam's about to let you do that supposedly, you know like trade and exchange, but they're going to take a fee from it."
The official story: There's just one problem: Pachter doesn't remember saying it.
"I saw the headlines today, and honestly don't remember saying that Steam would sponsor trade-ins," Pachter told GameSpot. "I can only surmise that the reporter asked the question that way ('Steam is rumored to be considering taking digital trade-ins') and asked me what I thought. I have NOT heard this from anybody, and think it had to be the way the question was phrased."
"When I said 'supposedly,' it's because the question was posed that way, and is an acknowledgement that I've never heard it before," he continued. "For the record, I don't know anything about Steam's plans to sponsor credits for games purchased in the past."
Now Gamer had not returned a request for comment on Pachter's retraction as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.
Source: Gaming blog Joystiq.
What we heard: After being unveiled with great fanfare--and a colossal leak--at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the PSP Go has not been the runaway hit Sony hoped it would be. Though US sales figures for the handheld have never been released by the NPD Group, Japanese retail-tracking firm Media Create breaks out sales of the handheld each week. In almost every instance, the portable finishes dead last on the hardware chart, selling just 754 units in the island nation during the week of September 27-October 3.
Other than its lack of a UMD drive, the PSP Go's biggest hurdle to mass adoption has been its price--$250 in the US, or $80 more than the PSP-3000. However, that may soon change, if Joystiq's sources are to be believed. The gaming blog was sent a photo purporting to be of an Army and Air Force Exchange Service retailer directive. The document flatly states that starting Friday, October 15, the PSP Go will cost only $200 for consumers and $180 for retailers.
The official story: Sony had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Too little to go on, but a price cut would certainly make the PSP Go more attractive this holiday season.
[UPDATE] On October 25, Sony announced it would cut the price of the PSP Go from $249 to $199 in the States, from 26,800 yen to 16,800 yen ($207) in Japan, and from £225 to £160 ($252) in the UK, with the price drops taking effect in November.
Source: See below.
What we heard: The summer was a bloody one for the game industry, with layoffs coming at Rockstar Games, Sony Online Entertainment, Firaxis, Realtime Worlds, Ubisoft, and LucasArts. Less than a month into fall, and the headcount reductions continue to be an issue. In the past week, Call of Duty: Black Ops DS developer n-Space and Singularity studio Raven Software both confirmed cuts.
Now, it appears as if yet one more studio will be sending developers to the unemployment office. Gamasutra reports today that a source within Chicago-based Robomodo has confirmed that the independent studio has let go "a significant number of staff."
The report comes exactly two weeks before Robomodo ships Tony Hawk: Shred, Activision's skateboarding-snowboarding title starring the titular X Games icon. According to Gamasutra's sources, Robomodo's layoffs were inspired by Activision's decision to strip the studio of the Tony Hawk franchise.
Gaming blog Kotaku echoed Gamasutra's report, stating that sources have confirmed that Robomodo has cut between 30 and 60 staffers from its payroll. The sources also noted that the cause for the reductions was due to Activision reclaiming the Tony Hawk license.
Formed in 2008 from the ashes of Fight Night studio EA Chicago, Robomodo's first project was Tony Hawk: Ride. The game faired poorly with critics, due in large part to its use of an oft-maligned motion-sensing skateboard peripheral.
Still, both Tony Hawk and Robomodo expressed faith in the add-on's technology, which will be seen in the upcoming Shred. The skater was quick to say that the original game "only just really tapped what's possible" with the board peripheral, while the Chicago-based developer ramped up payroll by 20 percent in the months following Ride's release.
The official story: Calls to Robomodo went unreturned as of press time, and an e-mail sent to the studio was returned as undeliverable. Inquires sent to a third-party public-relations firm that had previously represented the studio also went unreturned as of press time.
Activision declined to comment on the report.
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus that Robomodo has enacted layoffs. However, it remains to be seen how the headcount reductions will impact Robomodo's status as a going concern.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Today at GDC Online in Austin, Texas, Battle.net project director Greg Canessa took the stage to talk about the future of the encompassing online service Battle.net. Following his presentation--a complete write-up of which can be found here--the former PopCap games executive took questions from the audience.
One inquiry may have led Canessa to tip Blizzard's hand about the release date of the first expansion to Stacraft II: Wings of Liberty, Heart of the Swarm. When discussing such future Battle.net features as trading replays, broadcasting replays, and upgrading profiles, he said they were "a main area of focus we're going to be seeing on the Starcraft [II] side over the next 18 months between now and Heart of the Swarm." (Emphasis added.)
Such a time frame would have the expansion arrive in either March or April, 2012. Heart of the Swarm is the second installment in the three-part Starcraft II saga, the first of which, Wings of Liberty, focused on the human faction. Heart of the Swarm will concentrate on the Zerg faction of the real-time strategy, while the third installment in the real-time strategy trilogy, Legacy of the Void, will focus on the sinister Protoss faction.
The official story: A Blizzard representative stressed to GameSpot that there is no announced released window for Heart of the Swarm. However, he did say that the game would not be featured as part of Blizzcon 2010, which will take place in Anaheim, California from October 22-23.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus. Blizzard typically takes its time between expansions, as evidenced by the nearly two-year gaps between the World of Warcraft add-ons The Burning Crusade (January 2007), Wrath of the Lich King (November 2008), and Cataclysm (December 2010).
Source: New York Magazine's showbiz blog, Vulture.
What we heard: From 2005 to 2006, the film adaptation of Microsoft's sci-fi shooter franchise Halo was the talk of Hollywood. Alas, in October 2006, the two studios behind the project--20th Century Fox and Universal--backed out, leaving it to languish in development limbo ever since.
Now, according to Vulture, the Halo movie may be back on. Citing unnamed sources, the show business blog says that Dreamworks and its head, director Steven Spielberg, are now actively seeking the big-screen rights for Halo. The apparent impetus for the push? The small matter of Halo: Reach grossing $200 million in 24 hours just last month.
Vulture also says that Dreamworks is looking at the novels based on the Halo games as source material for the film. Apparently, the move is a way to sidestep the screenplays written for the Halo film, the use of which would require Dreamworks to repay Universal $12 million in development costs. The first such novel, Halo: The Fall of Reach, was the inspiration for Halo: Reach, which depicts the conquest and eventual destruction of the titular fortress world by the Covenant.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact the current CEO of Dreamworks, Stacey Snider, was the head of Universal when it was involved in the Halo project. Then there's the matter of screenwriter Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) having already written an unsolicited spec script based on Fall of Reach. "I'm just a huge fan," he told the blog. "My long-term goal is to get three Halo movies [based on the three novelizations] made. It's not something I can accomplish tomorrow. But if I can help, I am glad to do it."
The official story: Microsoft reps had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that Dreamworks is interested, but a source close to Microsoft told Vulture the project remains a long shot. "It's a gigantic waste of time because [Microsoft] doesn't want anything to happen in any other media that could screw up a multi-billion dollar franchise," said the source. "Somebody has to be in control of a movie; it's a director's medium. But they're completely averse to that. Because if Steven Spielberg f***s it up, what's your recourse? So the rule is: 'First, do no harm.'"
Source: See below.
What we heard: As pointed out by GameSpot sister site ZDNet, it has been a while since Microsoft has made a major acquisition. Over the weekend, one small tweet by a Second Life enthusiast has sparked mass speculation that the software giant has made a bid to buy the virtual world's maker, Linden Lab.
Thursday, a Hollywood-based Second Life user named Tizzers twittered, "A little birdie told me that Microsoft may have silently offered to buy Linden Lab this week." This small post led to a full-blown article on tech blog TechEye.net, which cited "a very reputable individual still employed by Linden Lab, they have been entertaining offers and Microsoft has stepped up with a bid." The blog then followed up with even more reports from the Second Life community.
The reports were further confirmed by ZDNet editor Mary-Jo Foley, whose own sources also reported that Microsoft was in the running to buy Linden Lab, which reportedly closed down its UK office last week.
The official story: Microsoft had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that there's a lot of chatter that Microsoft has made an offer to buy Linden Lab. That has spawned even more chatter that Microsoft might bring Second Life--or a Second Life-like virtual world--to Xbox Live, possibly even with Kinect support. That said, it's a little early to bet on anything just yet.
What we heard: The biggest news in gaming this week is expected to come out of Nintendo's Japanese press conference to reveal launch details of the 3DS. However, the headline from that conference may have already been leaked.
According to the picture, Bild reported that Nintendo will launch the 3DS in Japan on November 11, with a German launch to follow next spring. That information is in keeping with what has been said all along about the system. When Nintendo first announced the handheld, it said it would launch it during the fiscal year ending March 2011. A report in the Japanese business daily Nikkei on the same day pegged the 3DS as arriving this year in Japan.
The Bild report spends much of its space recapping the basic functionality of the machine and offering praise like the underscored, "Der 3D-Effect ist sensationell!" However, it also mentions a price point of sorts, saying the system will cost nearly €200 ($270). However, it's worth noting that gaming hardware prices between Europe and North America often ignore currency conversions. For example, the DSi XL sells in the US for $170, even though its European price tag of €165 would convert directly to about $222.
The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."--A Nintendo representative.
[UPDATE] Bogus or not bogus?: Though initially credible, the rumor turned out to be bogus. Nintendo has now announced the 3DS will launch next March in the US and Europe and on February 26 in Japan. Only the Japanese price of ¥25,000 ($299) has been announced.
Source: See below.
What we heard: With the PlayStation Move's launch last week and Kinect's November 4 release creeping ever closer, Nintendo finally has real competition in the motion-sensing console wars. One of the steps toward keeping itself competitive appears to be an update to the Wii Remote, one in which the precision-enhancing Motion Plus add-on loses its add-on status.
Today, Nintendo Life claims to have spotted just that, courtesy of a GameStop listing for Nintendo's FlingSmash. As exhibited in box art (pictured) for the $50 title, Nintendo will be packing in a "Wii Remote Plus" with copies of the game when it goes on sale in November.
The packaging also depicts a black version of the Wii Remote Plus, one in which the customary flare of the Motion Plus is absent. There also appears to be a concave arc of script underneath the "Wii" label at the bottom of the controller; text that does not appear on a traditional Wii Remote.
Unfortunately, GameStop has since pulled the alleged listing, and no other retailer is currently listing FlingSmash with the add-on as of press time.
The official story: "We have nothing to announce at this time."--A Nintendo of America representative. However, it is worth pointing out that Nintendo of Europe's representatives have been less mum, telling Eurogamer that the device "is real" but offering no other comment.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus. Nintendo has a long tradition of bundling software with its controllers--Wii Play for the original remote and Wii Sports Resort for the Motion Plus add-on, to name two. So the listing isn't at all out of the ordinary. Plus, Nintendo also has a precedent for making incremental improvements to the Wii's control scheme, having released the Classic Controller Pro in the US this year.
Source: See below.
What we heard: After years of languishing in development limbo, Mad Max 4: Fury Road began preproduction in late 2009. In a video segment from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (via Comingsoonet.net), producer-director George Miller talked about how it would take a year just to build the cars used in the sequel.
Since 2008, God of War II producer Cory Barlog has been linked to the game adaptation of Fury Road, a fact he reconfirmed yesterday with two tweets. "I need a rockstar lead level girl or guy who is up for the challenge of making an amazing AAA Mad Max game," read the first, followed by, "A heads up to all level designers, more specifically lead level designers. Want make a Mad Max game with me?"
The two aforementioned posts were wedged between tweets about Barlog's visit to Stockholm, Sweden, site of Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios. The fact that Avalanche founder Christofer Sundberg retwittered several of Barlog's posts about Mad Max 4 was not lost on Giant Bomb. The gaming blog then connected the dots between the Barlog-Avalanche link and a May report saying that the studio is working on "a major Hollywood license" to be developed "alongside an upcoming 2012 movie." The often-delayed Mad Max 4 had a 2012 release, but--as Barlog twittered and Sundberg retwittered--it has since been delayed.
The official story: Inquiries sent to Barlog and Avalanche had not been returned as of press time. However, Sundberg did tell Eurogamer the following: "I can't comment on the projects we are working on, but Cory is working here with us in Stockholm as you have probably read on his Twitter recently."
Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus.
Source: See below.
What we heard: Last September, EA Sports president Peter Moore confirmed to GameSpot that Electronic Arts was letting its long-held NASCAR license lapse. Today, game-industry site Gamasutra cites "sources close to the situation" that EA's archrival, Activision, will publish the next installment in the series.
The report was also backed up by a less reliable outlet--a post on the EA Sports forums. Poster N0Fear88, a two-year veteran of the site, claims another "inside source" at NASCAR said the title was in development for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii and would be released two weeks before next February's Daytona 500.
In late August, British developer Eutechnyx, the studio behind the racing games Ferrari Challenge and Big Mutha Truckers, accidentally tipped its hand by posting the forums for NASCAR 2011. (The google cache showing the page can be found here; the logo is below..) It is unclear at which of Eutechnyx's four studios the game will be developed. The Gateshead, UK-based shop also has operations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as well as Chengdu and Hong Kong in China.
The official story: Activision reps had not yet responded to comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Signs point to not bogus. Activision has repeatedly stated its desire to break into the racing genre, which it tried to do in May with the critically acclaimed Blur. However, the game was a commercial disappointment, only selling 150,000 units in the US through the end of August, according to the NPD Group. Taking over NASCAR would give the company the highest profile racing property in the US--and the chance to succeed where EA largely failed.
Source: UK gaming news site Eurogamer.
What we heard: Microsoft's camera-based motion-sensing add-on Kinect will be in stores on November 4, but it seems like only yesterday that Lionhead Studios trotted out its little boy simulator Project Milo to debut the device at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Since then, the status of the title has been unclear, with Microsoft saying within the course of 24 hours in June that it did not, but then again did, have plans to bring Project Milo to market.
It's now possible that Microsoft has once again pulled the plug on Project Milo. Eurogamer reports today that Project Milo has been officially canceled, with Lionhead showing the door to 19 contractors who were working on the project. Unfortunately, Eurogamer's information comes from the most tenuous of places, as the UK gaming site cites "a source claiming to be close to the situation" as the provenance of its information.
While bad for Xbox 360 gamers looking forward to seeing what Milo had to offer, the reported development is apparently good for Fable fans. According to Eurogamer's source, Lionhead has now established two teams to work on the Fable franchise. Further, the team that was working on Milo will reportedly implement some of its work into a "Fable-themed Kinect game."
The official story: Microsoft had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?:Bogus for now, since Eurogamer's source is questionable at best. Further, Eurogamer itself noted that just last month, Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux told the site that Project Milo was absolutely intended for a retail release, saying, "I wouldn't be working on it if I didn't hope that to be true, yes."
Source: Little Big Planet 2's official Japanese-language Web site.
What we heard: As part of the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony announced a host of PlayStation Move-compatible titles that would be available by the end of the year. Included on that list was Media Molecule's Little Big Planet 2, the unexpected follow-up to the studio's hit PlayStation 3-exclusive platformer and user-generated content platform.
Since that time, Media Molecule has opened up the closed beta-testing window for the game, but despite that progress, it appears as if the game won't be hitting its projected November release. Sony has updated its official Japanese Web site for Little Big Planet 2 to reflect a 2011 launch window for the anticipated platformer.
However, the Japanese-language Web site appears to be the only place that has been updated with the 2011 launch window. Sony's US Web site for Little Big Planet 2 still reflects its November due date, and the publisher has yet to make a formal comment on the matter.
Retailers, who are often the first to learn of any changes to a game's release schedule, also still indicate a mid-November launch for the title. Both GameStop and Amazon have the title and its collector's edition scheduled for November 16, while UK retailer GAME still has the title slated for November 19.
The official story: Sony has not returned requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that Japanese gamers will have to wait until next year for Little Big Planet 2. Whether or not that delay will extend to the West has yet to be seen, however.
What we heard: Following the poor reception of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness in 2003, then-independent publisher Eidos Interactive rebooted the series with Tomb Raider: Legend in 2006. The new game showed off a completely redesigned Lara Croft, with the heroine sporting both a more practical outfit and realistic proportions.
Now, one month after the download-only Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light made a critically hailed debut on the Xbox 360--it hits the PC and PlayStation 3 next week--the next Tomb Raider game may have surfaced. According to Eurogamer, advance copies of PC Gamer magazine reveal that the next Tomb Raider--published by Square Enix under the Eidos name--will reboot the series for a second time.
The game will apparently be an origin story set on a Japanese island and featuring a younger, less experienced Lara Croft exploring the isle's jungles. It will reportedly be an open-world title, allowing the young heroine to overcome puzzles and obstacles via a variety of methods. The game is also apparently in development for the PC, PS3, and 360 and is set for a late 2011 release. No developer was named, even though the franchise has been at San Francisco Bay Area shop Crystal Dynamics since 2004.
The official story: Square Enix reps had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Too little to go on. Although a secondhand account isn't exactly gospel, a sandbox reboot sounds like the sort of shake-up the series could use.
[UPDATE] This story looks a little less bogus--and a lot less timely--as it appears to stem from more solid reports from July 2009. That's when leaked scans of a Nielsen survey surfaced which reportedly revealed the open-world, origin-story nature of the game.
Source: British news service the BBC.
What we heard: Yesterday, Realtime Worlds issued the heavy-hearted statement that its online third-person shooter APB would be shut down, effective last night. The move came after the Scottish studio filed for bankruptcy protection and enacted massive layoffs following "lackluster" sales of the tepidly received title.
However, APB's game of cops-and-robbers may not be over just yet. Reporting on the game's demise yesterday, the BBC offered up one additional tidbit, citing a source "close to the development team" as saying that administrators hoped to sell APB, with one potential buyer being Gears of War creator Epic Games. No additional details on Epic Games' connection to APB, which is powered by Unreal Engine 3, were mentioned.
The purchase of APB would be the second win for Realtime Worlds administration firm Begbies Traynor. Earlier this month, the firm confirmed for GameSpot that an unnamed US company had purchased Realtime Worlds' online social-networking and gaming platform, Project MyWorld. However, that acquisition was shrouded in mystery, as "the buyer insisted on total confidentiality, no press release, no disclosure of price paid, or name of buyer," Begbies Traynor said.
Whether or not Epic Games acquires APB--or is the unnamed buyer of Project MyWorld--remains to be determined, but the studio certainly has its development plate heavily loaded. In addition to Gears of War 3, the Cary, North Carolina-based studio has People Can Fly's Bulletstorm in production and Chair Entertainment's first iOS title, Project Sword. Epic, of course, also remains at work on updating its ubiquitous middleware software Unreal Engine 3.
The official story: Epic Games had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment on APB or Project MyWorld as of press time.
However, the studio did tell the BBC, "[Epic Games CEO Mark Rein] absolutely loves APB, and everyone here loved what they saw. We've got our hands full of Gears of War 3, Bullet Storm and the recently announced Project Sword. If any talks like that are going on, then they would be confidential."
Bogus or not bogus?: Too little to go on. Thanks to the 12-million-unit franchise sales of Gears of War, Epic certainly has the resources to purchase APB, especially since it could probably land the code at a steal, given Realtime Worlds' position.
Source: A thread on the official Rock Band forums.
What we heard: In mid-August, reports surfaced that reggae icon Bob Marley would make his Rock Band series debut in Rock Band 3. Now, according to a thread in the Rock Band forums, the Rastafarian singer may appear in the series earlier than the game's October 26 launch.
The thread cites multiple sightings of television ads on VH1 Classic, a cable channel owned by MTV Games parent Viacom, promoting the digital release of most of the tracks on Marley's greatest hits collection, Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers via the Rock Band Store on September 21. A tracklist (see below) also accompanied the ad.
- Is This Love?
- No Woman, No Cry
- Could You Be Loved
- Three Little Birds
- Buffalo Soldier
- Get Up, Stand Up (also on disc for RB3)
- Stir It Up
- One Love/People Get Ready
- I Shot the Sheriff
- Waiting in Vain
- Redemption Song
- Satisfy My Soul
The official story: MTV reps had not responded to requests for comment as of press time. However, a member of the Harmonix team posted the following about the announcement.
"As of right now this DLC release is TOTALLY UNCONFIRMED. I mean, it'd be awesome if we could release all of this landmark album from a hugely influential artist, but we HAVEN'T ANNOUNCED ANYTHING YET. As usual, it's not 100% CONFIRMED until we post the DLC announcement at 10am on Friday morning… or until our parent company starts running commercial promos for it." (Emphasis in the original.)
Bogus or not bogus?: With that tacit admission on the end, this is looking not bogus.