Rumor Control: The Supersized Edition
This week: Counter-Strike: The Movie, From Russia with Love: The Game, EA: The Next-Gen Plan, Cell Processor: The Speed, Troika: The Closure, Sony PSP: The Download Service, Nintendo Revolution: The Napkin Sketch, PlayStation 3: Playable at E3, and Pokemon: The Cancer Gene.
RUMOR #1: German director Uwe Boll has acquired the film rights to Counter-Strike.
Source: British site BBspot.
The official story: "First time we've heard that. False."--Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi.
What we heard: This week, the game-news underground was bubbling with word that (in)famous filmmaker Boll had landed the movie rights to another premium game franchise. Actually "word" might be a bit mild. "Outrage" would be more appropriate, since Boll has a history of turning respected game franchises into universally panned movie projects. Following his critically eviscerated House of the Dead, Boll directed Alone in the Dark, which is based on the 13-year-old horror-action franchise. Released this week to scalding reviews, Dark hardly bodes well for Boll's upcoming adaptations of Far Cry, Hunter: The Reckoning, and BloodRayne (which is currently in postproduction). In fact, the New York Times called Dark "so inept on every level, you wonder why the distributor didn't release it straight to video, or better, toss it directly into the trash." With Boll's track record, it's easy to see why Counter-Strike's wide and rabid fan base would be less than thrilled to have the director-producer land the Valve franchise, as the BBspot piece purports. Good thing, then, that BBspot is a tech-humor site (a sort of Onion for geeks) and that the story is totally false. In fact, in its "about" page, BBspot takes pains to explain its prankster nature. "BBspot produces a variety of features like fake news stories satirizing the tech and political worlds…[and] pokes fun at the Believers (people who believe our fake news)." Like Foghorn Leghorn said, "It's a joke, son, a joke."
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.
RUMOR #2: Nintendo has shown its next-generation console at a shareholders' meeting in Japan.
Source: Nintendo fan site 4 Color Rebellion.
The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumors, speculation, or napkin sketches."-- Nintendo rep.
What we heard: Previously all but unheard of, 4 Color Rebellion became the center of a lot of attention this week when it published an account from someone who claimed to be present during a Nintendo shareholders meeting. At said meeting, officials from the House of Mario reportedly showed off the next-gen "Revolution" console. The witness said the final name of the console will be the "Nintendo 21," and it will hit the market at the end of this year. It will have a "Home Game function," codeveloped with Kyocera, that uses an IEEE protocol to wirelessly "locate and communicate with other Nintendo 21s in the vicinity," as well as unspecified handheld game devices. The 21 will also have a pressure-sensitive controller that allows for DS-style rubbing on either the buttons or the grip. For media, the console will use a two-sided 5.4GB disc with a UMD-esque shell case, and it will be inserted into the top of the GameCube-esque machine. The unit will also have a digital A/V outputs and sport an N64-esque logo. The witness even drew a picture of what he recalled (pictured), with notations in Japanese. Interesting? Definitely. Authentic? Who knows? Nintendo wouldn’t comment, so it looks like gamers will have to wait until E3 for the 411 on the Nintendo 21.
Bogus or not bogus?: TBD at E3.
RUMOR #3: Sony has announced the PlayStation 3 will be playable at E3.
Source: The games section of geek central, Slashdot.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: With it now looking highly unlikely that Xbox Next will be unveiled at GDC in March, the speculative consensus is that it will first see the light of day at E3 in May. So when reports began to surface today that Sony had announced that the PS3 would not only be at E3, but also would be playable, it seemed like just another case of corporate one-upmanship. Problem is, Sony hasn't announced anything. "That is purely speculation," an SCEA rep told GameSpot. "We have made no announcement to this effect."
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.
RUMOR #4: The 1963 classic From Russia with Love will be the basis for Electronic Arts' next James Bond game.
Source: The hardcore 007 followers at Mi6.co.uk.
The official story: "We're always looking at new game concepts and designs and have made no public announcements regarding our future James Bond titles under development."--EA spokesperson.
What we heard: In a neat bit of self-promotion, the editors at Mi6.co.uk sent out an e-mail this week touting their latest scoop. It claimed that in the aftermath of GoldenEye: Rogue Agent's critical and commercial failure, EA has decided to take the Bond franchise old-school. "Sean Connery's second outing as James Bond in the 1963 film "From Russia with Love" will be the title and basis of the next 007 video game from EA Games," it read. "Expected for release in late 2005/early 2006, the title will ship on the Microsoft Xbox and Xbox Next platforms. ... An official announcement of the game is expected in February." While such a concept sounds as appealing as Clive Owen succeeding Pierce Brosnan as the dashing-but-deadly secret agent, it is unofficial for the time being. EA reps would neither confirm nor deny the rumor, and no evidence exists to either bolster or undermine its credibility.
Bogus or not bogus?: Too early to tell, but it's a great idea nonetheless.
RUMOR #5: The PlayStation 3's Cell processor will run at a whopping 4.6 gigahertz.
Source: The Microsoft-console-lovin' collective known as Team Xbox.
The official story: Sony reps did not respond to solicitations for comment.
What we heard: Though it didn't cite a source, the Team Xbox article did present an awful lot of detail about the Cell chip. Sounding very much like a technical manual, the article described the processor as "a multicore chip comprising a 64-bit Power processor core and multiple synergistic processor cores capable of massive floating-point processing. Cell is optimized for computation-intensive workloads and broadband-rich media applications, including computer entertainment, movies, and other forms of digital content." It went on to break down many features of the chip, including how it simultaneously supports multiple operating systems, its flexible on-chip input/output interface, and its 90-nanometer architecture. While all well and good, that information was already public thanks to papers Sony filed last year in preparation for the 2005 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference. What is new is the Cell's speed of 4.6GHz. That processor speed is a milestone, especially considering that Intel had to abandon its 4GHz chip due to heat issues. According to Team Xbox, representatives from all three companies working on the Cell--Toshiba, IBM, and Sony--will reveal the speed and present the chip in detail at the IEEE ISSCC in San Francisco in February.
Bogus or not bogus?: Almost certainly not bogus, but we'll know for sure next month.
RUMOR #6: Electronic Arts revealed its entire Xbox Next launch lineup at an event in the Netherlands and assured those present that the console would launch in the next year.
Source: Online Dutch game 'zine Xboxworld.nl.
The official story: "Europe is abuzz with rumors…[EA] has made no public announcements regarding our lineup of titles for next year. "--EA spokesperson. "Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Microsoft rep.
What we heard: According to Xboxworld.nl, EA recently made a presentation to "a select group from the Dutch game industry" about its title roster for the coming year. As part of said presentation, the EA reps allegedly revealed it is working on Xbox Next versions of most of its major 2005 Xbox titles, including The Godfather, Battlefield: Modern Combat, Medal of Honor: Dogs of War, Batman Begins, Black, and the next, as-yet-unannounced SSX. Furthermore, officials from the mammoth publisher were "rather certain that Microsoft will launch the Xbox 2 will during the current [EA] financial year," which ends in March 2006. While EA would neither confirm nor deny the report, it does jibe with industry murmurs that publishers are developing next-gen versions of many previously announced games so they can hit the ground running whenever Microsoft decides to launch its console.
Bogus or not bogus?: Probably not bogus, which is good business sense, really.
RUMOR #7: Troika Games, the independent developer behind Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines and The Temple of Elemental Evil, has shut down.
Source: The Quarter to Three forums, home of enlightened gaming discourse.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: While many independent developers are enjoying success (like BioWare and Obsidian Entertainment), others are not faring as well. This week, word surfaced that indie shop Troika Games, which was founded by several former Fallout developers and Interplay castaways, had fallen on hard times. In fact, such hard times that, by some reports, it was closing its doors. So, GameSpot went to the man himself, co-CEO and cofounder Leonard Boyarsky, to find out what's what. Boyarsky then gave us this cryptic answer: "We are basically perusing some options...after the beginning of February, we'll be making a statement." So, for now, they're still in business. But with February less than a week away, that could change soon.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus for now.
RUMOR #8: Sony is planning to launch an iTunes-like music service that will let users download songs to their PSPs.
Source: The British tech-scuttlebutt collectors over at The Register.
The official story: "SCEA does not have plans to introduce a music download service for PSP."--US Sony spokesperson.
What we heard: According to the article, Sony will use the (likely) March launch of the PSP in Europe and America to try to challenge Apple's dominance of the music download market. So far, it has failed to do so with its own music download service, Connect. "SCEE [Sony Computer Entertainment Europe] will put the delivery mechanism in place just in time for the handheld console's launch, using it to let users download game levels and software updates," according to the Register. "However, the system will be extended to music in the summer." The Register cites an article in Marketing magazine that cites sources at SCEE. If this sounds like a thirdhand account, that's because it is. And like most games of telephone, the facts got distorted. "This is misinformation," Sony Computer Entertainment America reps told GameSpot. "According to SCEE, this may have been confused with Sony Europe's plans for Connect in this market. As the product supports both MP3 and ATRAC digital formats, there are many services on the market that can work with PSP."
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.
RUMOR #9: Pokémon causes cancer.
Source: The Web site for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
The official story: Curiously, Nintendo's reps were all out of the office on Friday. (Suffering from Pikachu poisoning, perhaps?)
What we heard: Few things provoke as severe a love-hate reaction as Pokémon games. That said, even the most rabid Pikachu-basher wouldn't accuse the franchise of being carcinogenic (though the TV show based on the games was accused of causing seizures). However, in the purest technical sense, "Pokemon" does cause cancer. That's because "Pokemon" is also the name of a cancer-causing gene that was recently discovered. In a study published in the January 20 issue of Nature, researchers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer outline how they isolated the POK Erythroid Myeloid Ontogenic factor--or POKEMON, for short. What's next? A leukemia gene called Dragon Ball Z? A terminal case of Yu-Gi-Oh! Syndrome?
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus, but totally hilarious.