Rumor Control: PlayStation 3 and Ninja Gaiden 2 in 2006?

These join Microsoft's handheld and Interplay's demise in this week's gossip roundup.


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RUMOR #1: The PlayStation 3 is shipping in March 2006.

Source: Statements made by CEO Nobuyuki Idei about the upcoming Cell processor to several Japanese newspapers.

The official story: "Cell will be used in a wide variety of Sony Group's digital consumer electronics products."--Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesperson.

What we heard: Midweek, Idei's statements about a television that would incorporate the Cell chip, the much-vaunted next-generation processor at the heart of the successor to the PlayStation 2, were published in several Japanese-language publications. In his remarks, Idei said that Cell-enhanced televisions, which will have PC and TiVo-like functionality, would be on the market in the first quarter of 2006. But Sony publicly maintains that the first Cell device on the market will almost certainly be the PlayStation 3. "It is most likely that the first consumer product using Cell is going to be SCE's next-generation computer entertainment system," an SCEA rep told GameSpot. So many gamers simply jumped through the following logical hoops: If the Cell TVs are arriving in Q1 2006, and the PlayStation 3s will arrive before any other Cell product, then they must arrive in Q1 2006 or before. Some random forum-poster arbitrarily added "March" and voila, a rumor is born. But while the theory's logic is sound, its conclusions remain unofficial--SCEA would not comment on the PS3's ship date.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not exactly bogus. The PS3 will ship in 2006. The question is: When?

RUMOR #2: Microsoft is working on its own media- and game-playing portable to rival Sony's PSP.

Source: UK trade mag MCV.

The official story: When contacted, Microsoft's primary PR agency redirected our inquires to a secondary agency, which redirected us to a third, which had not responded as of press time.

What we heard: MCV quoted a regional VP of Microsoft’s home and entertainment division, Eduardo Rosini, quashing rumors of a handheld Xbox. "However, it is worth noting that we are already in the handheld sector with the [upcoming] Portable Media Center," said Rossini. "And I don't see any reason why games will not figure in the strategy for that." Well, according to Microsoft's site, PMCs, which are due in the fall, won't play games at all and will still be strictly for music, photos, and video. However, since games can already be played on the Windows mobile platform--as GameSpot editor Jason Ocampo reminds everyone in the office every time he walks by playing Age of Empires on his pocket PC--getting games onto PMCs would be an easy proposition. But will Microsoft decide to hype the PMC as a PSP rival with a big game push, or will it prefer to let the device's media features sell themselves? Either way, the PMC will always be a media viewer first and a game machine second.

Bogus or not bogus?: Semi-bogus. Palm handhelds can play games and video too--does anyone see them as a rival to the PSP?

RUMOR #3: Development of a Ninja Gaiden 2 sequel has been officially confirmed.

Source: An interview with Team Ninja head Tomonobu Itagaki in Kikizo.

The official story: "We have not yet decided on the platform and other details for NG2, but it's definitely on our mental to-do list in the coming years."--Tecmo's marketing director, John Inada.

What we heard: In the Kiziko inteview, Tomonobu Itagaki talks about his plans for a Ninja follow-up in the most abstract of terms. "Basically, the concept will not change," he said. "What we have in Ninja Gaiden 1 will still be there, and we will add a few elements to it and spice it up with new weapons and that kind of thing." While those comments would seem to confirm that a sequel is being fast-tracked, a conversation with Inada, who translated the interview, showed that the game's release is way off indeed. "Before I can confirm anything on Ninja Gaiden 2," he told GameSpot, "Team Ninja will be focusing their time on finishing up DOA Ultimate by late summer to early fall of 2004 and then DOA4 for a next generation (choice of platform is not yet made)." In other words, even given just a yearlong development cycle, the earliest Ninja Gaiden 2 would arrive would be 2006. Still, Tecmo's commitment to a sequel to Gaiden, one of its most successful games in years, seems firm. "How can any publisher not think about a sequel for a hugely successful game like Ninja Gaiden?" said Inada.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus, although putting something on a "mental to-do list" doesn't exactly equal starting development.

RUMOR #4: Interplay has gone out of business.

Source: The official Interplay Web site, which has been down for a week.

The official story: E-mails to Interplay's sole internal publicity rep were not returned.

What we heard: In mid-April, Interplay announced a series of bold business initiatives, including the resurrection of Fallout 3. It also revealed that it was facing eviction from its Irvine, California, headquarters due to nonpayment of rent. Shortly thereafter, the site for Black Isle, Interplay's all-but-shut-down internal developer, was replaced by a single page saying it was "undergoing maintenance." Then it went offline altogether. Now it seems the same fate has befallen Interplay's main site, without the advance warning. The Web site simply stopped working sometime last weekend, and it remains down as of press time. The resulting confusion has fueled speculation in many forums that, if it can't even keep its Web presence afloat, the once-mighty publisher of Baldur's Gate and Fallout has indeed finally become insolvent. However, a call to Interplay's office dispelled that notion. Though the company hasn't had a live operator in months, Interplay's voicemail system does still indeed work, meaning that, for now, the company is still around. [UPDATE] Four days after this story was first filed, reports began to come in that on Tuesday, June 1, Interplay employees were told by the human resources department to collect their personal belongings and file for unemployment. Attempts to contact Interplay are now hamstrung by the fact that e-mails to addresses ending in "" are being bounced back automatically.

Bogus or not bogus?: The phones are still working--so it's not official yet.

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