Rumor Control: Downloadable PSP demos and Driver 3 Redux
Also this week: Brothers in Arms 2, next-gen Pro Evolution Soccer, and the Metroid ilovebees.com parodies.
Rumor #1: Sony is considering distributing demos of PSP games via the Web.
Source: A source at a company currently developing a PSP game.
The official story: "We haven't made any announcements regarding the process for downloading content for the PSP, so any information otherwise is purely speculation." --Sony representative.
What we heard: According to the source, Sony is considering the following scheme: Posting demos of PSP games on the Web and allowing gamers to download them onto their PCs. Gamers would then transfer the demo to a Memory Stick inside the PSP via the portable's USB 2.0 port. The prospect offers both great potential and peril. On one hand, it would allow Sony to widely distribute demos for PSP games for virtually no cost. However, given that Memory Sticks are now capable of holding up to 2GB of memory, allowing the downloading of PSP game content from PCs could provide ample opportunity for piracy--a dilemma that's probably being tackled inside Sony Computer Entertainment boardrooms right now.
Bogus or not bogus?: Probably not bogus. Other sources have implied to GameSpot that Sony planned such a scheme from the start.
Rumor #2: Reflections Interactive is planning a special edition of the Atari-published Driver 3.
Source: An e-mail from a GameSpot reader.
The official story: "This would be news to me. Sounds pretty unlikely though, eh?" --Atari spokesperson.
What we heard: Late in the week, GameSpot received a message that read as follows: "I have inside information on Reflections! Reflections Interactive knows Driver 3 could be a kick-ass game, but the technical problems held it back, this is why Reflections is redoing it, the are fixing all the bugs in Driver 3 and will release it in spring 2005, called Driver 3: Special Edition. This new version of Driver 3 will also include four new levels and a sneak preview of Stuntman 2!" While certainly enthusiastic, the e-mail overlooked some cold hard facts--namely, that the Driver 3 was one of Atari's most highly anticipated titles of 2004, as Enter the Matrix was in 2003. Like Enter the Matrix, the game was an initial financial success but received a critical drubbing. Given the subsequent backlash against the game, it is unlikely that there would be a market for a special edition of Driver 3--which would likely have to be sold at a bargain price point--to justify further development dollars. A similar rumor was floated earlier this year about the PC Halo-wannabe Breed. That scenario had developer Brat Designs releasing a much-improved version the critically savaged version of the game, which was allegedly severely modified by publisher CDV and released under protest from Brat. That didn't happen. But, unlike Driver 3, Breed didn't sell more than 500,000 units.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.
Rumor #3: Gearbox is already working on Brothers in Arms 2.
Source: The ever-cheeky British site Computer and Video Games.
The official story: Publisher Ubisoft declined comment--but developer Gearbox didn't. (See Below.)
What we heard: The Computer and Video Games article cited comments at a recent UK press event by Colonel John Antal, the military adviser hired by Gearbox for Brothers in Arms, its upcoming WWII shooter. Computer and Video Games quotes Antal as flatly saying that Gearbox is working on a sequel and is actively doing location research in Belgium. However, when asked by GameSpot if it was already developing Brothers in Arms 2, a Gearbox representative said that "there is no truth to that whatsoever." Was it an honest denial or just energetic spin control? That's tough to say. Ubisoft has never met a franchise it didn't like, as the company's various Tom Clancy series (Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six) are its bread and butter. Given the rapturous reception Brothers in Arms got at this year's E3--even Steven Spielberg raved about it--it's almost a certainty that there will be a sequel to the game. So it's likely that the Gearbox rep was cleverly parsing words, since location research is not technically development (which generally involves a bunch of designers sweating over computers for 12-hour shifts and chugging Red Bulls).
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.
Rumor #4: Pro Evolution Soccer 6 will be released on next-generation consoles.
Source: An interview with Shingo "Seabass" Takatsuka posted on the Konami UK site. The interview has since been pulled--although a cached version is still viewable on Google (for the time being).
The official story: Konami of America had not offered a response as of press time.
What we heard: As is the case with FIFA and Madden, the release of a Pro Evolution Soccer game is an annual certainty. In the interview, Takatsuka was talking about the next installment in the ultrasuccessful footie franchise, which will--shocker--be released next year for the PlayStation 2. However, Takatsuka also displayed some refreshing candor about game development--at least enough candor to get the interview removed from the Web. "It's the end of the life cycle for the PlayStation 2," he said. "Therefore we're only really looking ahead to PES5, and we already have ideas--we're starting to work on it already. However for the future...PES6, we're thinking of next-gen platforms so we're just constructing ideas about that." There it is--straight from the horse's mouth.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.
Rumor #5: To promote Metroid Prime: Echoes, Nintendo is waging a online publicity campaign mocking the Halo 2 ilovebees.com viral-marketing scheme.
Source: UK-based Eurogamer.
The official story: "Nintendo does comment on rumors or speculation" --Nintendo of America spokesperson.
What we heard: In 1998, George Lucas helped hype the upcoming release of the first Star Wars prequel by twisting around the tagline of the Godzilla remake--"Size Does Matter"--with a Phantom Menace teaser Web page saying "Plot Does Matter." (Perhaps he should've followed his own advice.) Now, it seems Nintendo is employing similarly mischievous tactics against the now-infamous ilovebees.com. No less than 32 URLs--http://www.ilovebeams.com/, http://www.ilovebeets.com/, http://www.ilovebeasts.com/, http://www.ilovevees.com/, http://www.ilovebeaks.com/, http://www.iloveskis.com/, http://www.ilovekeys.com/, http://www.iloveknees.com/, http://www.ilovegees.com/, http://www.ilovecees.com/, http://www.ilovehees.com/, http://www.ilovebeeps.com/, http://www.ilovesneeze.com/, http://www.ilovetease.com/, http://www.ilovefees.com/, http://www.ilovenees.com, http://www.iloveease.com, http://www.iloveplease.com, http://www.ilovedisease.com, http://www.ilovebreeze.com, http://www.ilovetrapeze.com, http://www.ilovewheeze.com, http://www.iloveseas.com, http://www.ilovelees.com, http://www.ilovesqueeze.com, http://www.ilovepeas.com, http://www.ilovesprees.com, http://www.iloveescapees.com, http://www.iloveflees.com, http://www.ilovecreamcheese.com, http://www.ilovejeez.com, and http://www.ilovecapris.com--that rhyme with "ilovebees.com" currently feature an image of Metroid heroine Samus Aran and the following tagline: "ALL YOUR BEES ARE BELONG TO US. NEVER SEND A MAN TO DO A WOMAN'S JOB."
The first sentence will give veteran gamers a chuckle, since it repurposes the infamous "All your base are belong to us" line from the Sega Genesis game Zero Wing (which set off its own Internet craze) into a potshot at ilovebees.com. The second sentence is a more obvious jab at Halo 2's very male hero, the Master Chief. While the Metroid parody is much less elaborate (and annoying) than the alternate-reality game Microsoft staged, Nintendo is similarly covering its tracks, since all the URLs are registered to 2Advanced Studios, an up-and-coming California Web design firm. But while the parody URLs are amusing, it seems Nintendo is also using two alternate-reality games of its own. This time around it is two sites: Channel51.org, a surprisingly slick UFO-nut site run by a "Samantha Manus," and Orbis Labs, a defense firm designing a weapon all too familiar to Metroid fans--a battle sphere. And guess what? Both of those URLs are also registered to 2Advanced Studios, and it's doubtful that they're doing all this work just because they love Metroid Prime.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not Bogus.
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