PS3 Slim = Sony's big GamesCom reveal?

Sources: See below.What we heard: Next week, the first GamesCom will kick off in Cologne, Germany. The successor to the Leipzig Games Convention, which drew more than 200,000 attendees last year, will be Europe's biggest gaming event by far. And now, judging by the increasing percolation of...

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Sources: See below.

What we heard: Next week, the first GamesCom will kick off in Cologne, Germany. The successor to the Leipzig Games Convention, which drew more than 200,000 attendees last year, will be Europe's biggest gaming event by far. And now, judging by the increasing percolation of speculation, it will likely have global importance as well.

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As anticipation grows that Microsoft will reveal a $100 price drop for the 120GB Xbox 360 Elite at its GamesCom conference on August 19, Sony Computer Entertainment has pulled back the curtain slightly on its own Cologne plans. Reports out of the UK have Sony confirming that one of the items on the docket will be the European launch of the PS3 video store. However, given that the announcement of the video store's North American launch took only a few minutes at Sony's 2008 Electronic Entertainment Expo presentation, that leaves the company with plenty of time for other announcements.

What else will Sony unveil? One publication claims to have the answer. The Web site of Hong Kong-based magazine GameWave declares that the long-rumored PS3 Slim will be the centerpiece of Sony's event. Though the magazine echoes reports that the console will be cheaper and thinner than the current model, its claims are undermined somewhat by the fact that its cover shows a fan-created concept image of the console (bottom). The design is markedly different from the images purportedly leaked from a Taiwanese factory in May (top), which were important enough to warrant legal threats from a mysterious law firm.

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Adding to the increasing PS3 Slim speculation are rumblings from European retailers. Furthermore, following reports that Sony is ramping up PS3 hardware orders after cutting manufacturing costs by 70 percent, British industry magazine MCV claims that stocks of the console have dried up in the island nation. It quoted an "anonymous spokesperson for one of the UK's largest national retailers" as saying, "We've been told not to expect any further [PS3] hardware deliveries until September."

The official story: "Sony does not comment on rumor or speculation" - Sony rep.

Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus, according to Wedbush Morgan Securities' oft-quoted game-industry analyst Michael Pachter. "All of the rumors floating around suggest that a PS3 price cut and introduction of the PS3 Slim is going to happen by the end of the month, and GamesCom is the only significant event between now and then," he told Industrygamers.

"We have seen reports out of China about increased PS3 component orders, have seen pictures that look real of the PS3 Slim, and have seen recent reports of declining PS3 stock in Japan and Europe, with comments from retail that they have been told not to expect new supplies of PS3s until the end of August or early September. All of that points to the possibility of an announcement at GamesCom."

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