Rumor Control: Dueling next-gen GBAs, and Halo 3 ambushes the PS3

[UPDATE] This week: Take-Two takes the NBA, the Xbox cord cover-up, and Metal Gear Solid 4 on the PlayStation 3.


RUMOR #1: Halo 3 is secretly under development and will be released on the same day as the PlayStation 3.

Source: Numerous outlets, including Boomtown and SPOnG.

The official story: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Microsoft spokesperson.

What we heard: Halo 2 has sold millions of copies and has caused nearly a million gamers to join Xbox Live. That said, the sci-fi shooter's single-player campaign comes to such an abrupt close that it all but demands a sequel. So, despite statements by Bungie that its next game is not Halo 3, word is fast spreading that the Microsoft-owned studio is nearly done developing Halo 3 for the next-generation Xbox. The logic goes that since Halo 2 sales boosted Xbox sales just as Sony released its slimline PlayStation 2 (which wasn't helped by hardware shortages) in 2004, release of a Halo 3 could similarly blunt the PlayStation 3's launch. Great theory, but is there any proof? Besides the obvious competitive motivation, the best evidence remains Halo 2's truncated plotline, which failed to include previously announced elements such as alternate warthogs for jungle and winter worlds. One thing is certain: If Microsoft were to pull such a maneuver, it would be one of the most devious moves the industry has ever seen.

Bogus or not bogus?: While tactically sound, there's too little evidence to go on right now. Abstain.

RUMOR #2: Take-Two Interactive is close to snatching up an exclusive NBA game license.

Source: "[We] have had lots of conversations with the NBA, and we hope to have more to say on the NBA in the coming weeks."--Take-Two's CEO Paul Eibeler during this week's first-quarter earnings call.

The official story: "We can't elaborate beyond what Paul said in the call."--A rep for 2K Games, which handles Take-Two's sports line.

What we heard: After Electronic Arts' acquiring of the NFL and Take-Two's nabbing of third-party rights to Major League Baseball, it seemed logical that one of the publishers would try to scoop up the NBA license. With its thug-life attitude and bling-bling mentality, the pro b-ball league would be an ideal license to gain exclusivity over. But reports around the Web from last December claim that EA's attempts to buy an NBA license were pushed back into the 10th row, which made Eibeler's comments look like a prelude to a major announcement. Too bad, then, that the executive admitted during an analyst Q&A session following the call that "the NBA is a different marketplace" and had no intentions of giving rights to just one publisher. So while there's no doubt that publishers have been trying to get the NBA license, there's no sign that anyone is even close to getting the slam dunk that exclusivity would be.

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus--for now.

RUMOR #3: The real reason Microsoft recalled 14.1 million Xbox power cords is because of a fault in the Xbox itself, not the cords.

Source: Xbox-mod-mad site

The official story: See below.

What we heard: Given Microsoft's admitted cord-failure rate of "about 1 in 10,000," its recall seemed a prudent move. But according to the techno-savvy scofflaws at, it was instead a massive cover-up. "There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the Xbox power cords. MS just had the recall to cover their butts," said the site. So what was really wrong? The site blames an early version of the console's internal Foxlink power supply, which allegedly suffers from a high rate of solder-point failure. Xbox-scene accuses new cords of being a "Band-Aid" that will merely prevent affected Xboxes from catching fire (as some have been reported to do) but not shorting out. [UPDATE] But that is absolutely not the case, according to an official Microsoft spokesperson. "The report referenced is simply not true," he said. "The cord consumers receive are designed to shut off power to the Xbox if it detects an electrical condition called 'sustained overvoltage.' This rare condition can be caused by things like downed power lines in a wind storm or faulty wiring in a house."

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.

RUMOR #4: This year, Nintendo will release either a next-gen Game Boy or a "tricked out" version of the GBA SP with multimedia functionality.

Source: An RC all-star team collated by the helpful

The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Nintendo of America rep.

What we heard: Following Monday's analyst predictions that Nintendo will release a new Game Boy this year, two theories emerged this week as to what exactly it would be. The first, espoused by SPOnG, says that, "The new Game Boy will be based around existing Nintendo GameCube hardware and will be, when it launches in the US and Japan toward the end of this year, the most powerful handheld console on the planet... The machine will evolve from a pure gaming machine into a [Palm OS] PDA-equipped [device] to play Nintendo 64-quality games." Another theory attributed to Eurogamer--and closer to analysts' expectations--is that the new GBA will in fact be the old GBA SP with some new bells and whistles, including built-in wireless connectivity and multimedia functionality. One thing is for certain--both theoretical machines sound designed to counter the PSP's high-end graphics and video/music capabilities, meaning if either is released, it will be Nintendo's counterattack in the handheld war.

Bogus or not bogus?: Our second "no decision" of the week. Although Nintendo's history of recycling products could make a revamped GBA SP likely, a successful PSP launch may force the house that Mario built to counter with a slick new handheld of its own.

RUMOR #5: Metal Gear Solid 4 will be released for the PlayStation 3.

Source: A widely reported speech by series creator Hideo Kojima, quoted by sites such as Computer & Video Games.

The official story: See below.

What we heard: At a Berlin press event for the European launch of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Kojima reportedly began his presentation by flatly stating that Solid Snake's next adventure "will be a next-generation title." Straightforward enough, right? Well, not exactly. The problem is, most of the reports in the European press feature the exact same quotes with the exact same wording and the exact same punctuation, suggesting they all came from the exact same report. Then there's the problem that US-based Konami officials won't confirm Kojima's comments. "Kojima has been hard to reach, since he is traveling right now. I can confirm that Europe did have their MGS3 press conference," a senior Konami of American official told GameSpot. "As for the next-gen information, I don't have anything to share at this point." But given the three-year gaps between 1998's Metal Gear Solid, 2001's Sons of Liberty, and 2004's Snake Eater, it seems a no-brainer that Metal Gear Solid 4 will appear on a future platform. If the three-year rule still applies, MGS4 will arrive in 2007, by which time Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo's next-gen machines should all be on the market. And given the series' nine-year tradition of debuting on Sony consoles, it's a safe bet that gamers will first see it on the PlayStation 3.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

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