Rumor Control: PS3 keyboard support and Xbox 360 = 11/4

This week: The PS3 GPU snafu, PGR3 misses the 360 launch, and Halo 3's surprise holiday release.


Halo 3
Project Gotham Racing 3

RUMOR #1: The PlayStation 3 will support a mouse and keyboard.

Source: The tech-muckrakers over at The Inquirer.

The official story: "We haven't made any announcements on PS3 since E3."--Sony Computer Entertainment America

What we heard: Back when the Xbox 360 was first announced, there was a lot of confusion about whether or not it would support a mouse and keyboard. That confusion continues, with Chris Satchell reportedly telling Game Developers Conference Europe attendees that the Xbox 360 will support a keyboard for input only and with American Microsoft reps telling GameSpot that the company "has not made any official announcements regarding keyboard support." So when The Inquirer reported a Sony "company representative" as saying that the PS3 will support both a mouse and keyboard, it caused quite a stir. Why? From an industry perspective, adding mouse and keyboard functionality to the PS3 would essentially make it a burly PC with a non-Microsoft OS. From a gaming perspective, it would mean the console would be much more appealing than a non-keyboard-supporting 360. 133t PC gamers would be able to apply their fine-honed fragging skills without having to use its "batarang" controller. It would also make role-playing games--especially massively multiplayer role-playing games--much easier to play. But is it true? Given that The Inquirer's mystery source isn't identified and Sony is keeping mum, it's still up in the air.

Bogus or not bogus?: Hopefully not bogus.

RUMOR #2: Project Gotham Racing 3 will miss the Xbox 360's launch this fall.

Source: An informative article at Talk Xbox.

The official story: See below.

What we heard: The various Xbox 360 bundles offered by EB Games, GameStop, and even Wal-Mart all have one thing in common--virtually all include a copy of Project Gotham Racing 3. Indeed, it has been long touted as a launch title for the next-gen platform, with Microsoft even using it as part of its teaser campaign. So, many gamers were aghast when they heard the rumor that the game might not be ready when the console goes on sale, almost certainly in November. The scuttlebutt stemmed from Talk Xbox's visit to EA Canada to play the 360 version of Need for Speed Most Wanted. When the site's roving reporter asked the developers if they were worried about their game going up against PGR3 at launch, they seemed incredibly unconcerned. "Most everyone there at EAX Canada doesn't expect PGR3 to make launch," he said. "Microsoft has apparently been giving EA all the help they can give with getting Most Wanted out at launch (which they are on track to do), and they wouldn't be doing that as much as they are if they had their own racing game ready for launch. Also, PGR3 is very ambitious, and from what they've seen it won't make launch." Microsoft's response to the rumor was less than reassuring. In fact it was downright evasive. "We haven't announced our launch lineup yet, but we expect to have between 25 and 40 games at retail this calendar year," a spokesperson told GameSpot. "There are 160 Xbox 360 games in development right now from companies like Electronic Arts, Activision, Microsoft Game Studios, etc." So if PGR3 doesn't make the 360 launch, when will it arrive? "Most of [the EA developers] expect it to be in the second wave of 360 titles, along with Gears of War," said Talk Xbox.

Bogus or not bogus?: Looking not bogus. If PGR3 is a lock for launch, why would Microsoft not say so? And why would it want to go head-to-head with a Need for Speed game?

RUMOR #3: The PlayStation 3's vaunted RSX graphics processor is less powerful than Nvidia's new 7800GTX graphics card.

Source: See below.

The official story: Sony had not returned requests for comment as of press time.

What we heard: A classic game of telephone was played out on the Web this week. The end point was the widely--and deservedly--read Team Xbox, which ran a story headlined "PlayStation 3 GPU Less Powerful than GeForce 7800." This article linked to a piece over at our friends The Inquirer, called "Playstation 3 GPU slightly less powerful than GeForce 7800." This in turned linked to a discussion thread on Evil Avatar, called "GeForce 7800 LESS powerful than PS3???," which featured a quote taken from the September issue of PSM. The quote was attributed to an Nvidia spokesperson, who said, "There's no doubting that Nvidia's new 7800GTX is the ultimate in PC graphics technology. The card's G70 GPU, which is more than twice as powerful as two of Nvidia's previous top-of-the-line 6800 boards, shares a lot of similar workings with the PS3's RSX chip--only it isn't as fast." [Emphasis added.] So the article is saying that the 7800GTX isn't as fast as the RSX, as Evil Avatar pointed out, not the other way around, as the speed-readers at The Inquirer claim--at length. To their credit, the editors at Team Xbox were quick to realize their error--after a phone call from Nvidia--and set the record straight with the follow-up article/mea culpa "PlayStation 3 GPU more powerful than GeForce 7800!"

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.

RUMOR #4: The Xbox 360 is coming out on November 4.

Source: The press release announcing Intec's line of Xbox 360 accessories.

The official story: "Microsoft has made no official announcements regarding the release date for the Xbox 360. We do not comment on rumor or speculation."--Microsoft spokesperson.

What we heard: When Intec announced its accessories for the Xbox 360--the first for the next-gen console--it wasn't just the peripheral makers who got excited. That's because the very first paragraph of the company's press release says the peripherals "will be available on retail shelves in North America on November 4, 2005, the expected launch date for Xbox 360." [Emphasis added again.] Many Xbox enthusiasts took that tidbit to be the smoking gun they had been waiting for, only to come up against Microsoft's wall of silence. Currently, the conventional wisdom among the industry is that the Xbox 360 will almost certainly be released in mid or late November. So was the date mentioned by Intec a factual slipup or merely a case of copywriting gone wrong. We should find out soon--November is only two months away.

Bogus or not bogus?: A wagerin' fella would probably put money on the 360 launching on or around Novermber 16, the fourth anniversary of the Xbox's launch.

RUMOR #5: Halo 3 is coming out on November 16.

Source: A product listing on Best Buy (pictured).

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

What we heard: Often the company to reveal a game's release date isn't its publisher; it's an online merchant who accidentally posts the product page ahead of the press release. While the typical perpetrators are GameStop and EB Games, this week it appeared to be Best Buy. On Monday, the site posted a page that seemed to indicate that the most anticipated game for the Xbox 360 would be a surprise launch title. The posting--coupled with the fact that Wal-Mart is letting you pick Halo 3 as one of the games in its Xbox 360 bundles--had would-be Master Chiefs more hysterical than a pack of grunts on the run. However, a sneak November release would go against all logic, especially considering that the very existence of the game was revealed by Bill Gates talking about how it would parry the PlayStation 3 launch. If you need more convincing, just look at the listing now--it says May 2006, right around the PS3's expected launch.

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus, sadly.

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