The rumor mill
Rumormongers had a field day this week after someone with a seemingly healthy knowledge of Microsofts future plans decided to spill the juiciest of beans all over the Internet. Is Microsoft making a disc-less Xbox One for $399? Will we see white and Titanfall-edition Xbox Ones before the years out? Will Microsoft mark the 10th birthday of Halo 2 with an Anniversary remake? All that and more set keyboards ablaze this week.
Plus, is Nintendo set to make games for phones and tablets? And has the NSA stolen your personal details using Angry Birds? We offer our take in this weeks rumor roundup.
White Xbox Ones for all
The rumor: In a splurge of Microsoft-related claims, an unnamed informant spread word that Microsoft will do the general public the good grace of releasing that awesome white Xbox One it teased you with last year. You remember; the one it revealed exclusively for Xbox employees and said you couldnt have? The same whistleblower also claimed--with pictures--that a special Titanfall edition Xbox One will be released, likely to coincide with the games March launch.
Our Take: Both these golden nuggets of info were spouted online by an alleged Microsoft insider who has been backed up by sources on several established sites. But even without such credentials wed have said both outcomes are highly likely--inevitable even. It would be silly for MS not to make a production white Xbox given the rampant demand. Meanwhile, releasing game-specific special-edition consoles became a well-established norm in the last console generation. Titanfall is Xbox Ones first major exclusive. Do the math.
A $399 Xbox One model in 2014
The rumor: Is Xbox One just a little too expensive for your liking? This weeks now infamous Microsoft leaker claimed the firm will release a $399 model--$100 less than the current offering--at some point in 2014. Even more bizarre, they claim this new SKU will arrive sans the optical disc drive, making it a digital-only console. Multiple publishing sources cited by CVG, The Verge and VG247, back up the cheaper console claim, but none vouched for a disc-less console.
Our Take: Closing the $100 price gap between the Xbox One and its rival PS4 would be a critical move for Microsoft, one were certain it will do everything it can to achieve. Can it do so this year? It appears that may likely be the case. But will it do so by removing the disc drive? Not only does that sound unlikely, but truly unfathomable at this point. Not only would it immediately disregard the millions of gamers who prefer physical retail purchases, but it also sticks a middle-finger up at the retail outlets themselves--such as GameStop--whos very future is threatened by an impending all-digital revolution. Analyst Michael Pachter certainly doesnt think its a good idea.
NSA used leaky Angry Birds to get your details
The rumor: No, thats not a joke. In the latest episode of the leak reports from former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden, US and UK government agencies targeted Angry Birds among a number of popular leaky smartphone apps for the mass collection of user data as part of its hunt for terrorist activity. With over a billion Angry Birds downloads on its resume, developer Rovio said it has not been aware of such activity.
Our Take: Time to break out the tinfoil hats, people--theyre watching you. In all seriousness though, theres a whole argument to be had over the core principles of personal privacy and the threat of a totalitarian government, but were not getting into that. The information gleaned from such apps could often include email address, gender, location, IP address and age--much of which is information we make widely available anyway. Do you have a Facebook account? Thats your life online, right there.
Halo 2 Anniversary is coming Xbox One
The rumor: Following the success of its Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary remake on Xbox 360, Microsoft will give Halo 2 a similar treatment on Xbox One. First touted by this weeks Microsoft leaker and backed up by CVG sources with an insight into Microsoft's software plans, a Halo 2: Anniversary will allegedly hit Xbox One in November 2014. Other, not-so-backed-up claims cite access to a Halo 5 beta being included with the game.
Our Take: This ones been fairly heavily verified, and it would seem a no-brainer for Microsoft to whet appetites (and fill the agonizing void) between now and its full-blown Halo sequel. November will mark the games 10th birthday, so it all makes perfect sense. On a note-so-positive not, however, a November launch would suggest Halo 5 wont make 2014, as Microsoft has so adamantly promised.
Nintendo may make games for smartphones
The rumor: It started life as a rumor at least; respected Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported on Monday that Nintendo will leverage the marketing clout of smartphones and tablets with an official app for releasing trailers and other promotional material--even mini games. Nintendo categorically denied the rumor. There are no plans to offer minigames on smartphone devices, stated a rep. But then company CEO Satoru Iwata announced on Thursday that Nintendo will employ a small team of developers for a smart device service that includes the possibility of games.
Our Take: Jeez, make up your minds, Nintendo. Okay, so the key to Nintendos messaging is, in Iwatas words, Simply releasing our games just as they are on smart devices would not provide the best entertainment for smart devices. That is, you will not see first-party 3DS games turning up on iPhone. But, Iwata clearly revealed, I have not given any restrictions to the [smart device service] development team, even not ruling out the possibility of making games or using our game characters. Bottom line - iPhone games from Nintendo are a reality.
Whats your take?
Would you buy a disc-less Xbox One? Is the world even ready for such a creation? Should Microsoft remake Halo 2? How sexy is that Titanfall Xbox? And are you deleting Angry Birds as we speak? Give us your take on the weeks events, and check back next week for another roundup of the juiciest rumors in gaming.
Further discussion: Andy Hartup asks, Does the white Xbox One indicate a crisis of confidence at Microsoft?, and Henry Gilbert summarizes what Nintendo said about its future (and what it really means).