Rumor Killers: August 22nd, 2008

Real Xbox 360 Price Cuts on the Horizon?

Microsoft played the role of tease at E3 by announcing that the Xbox 360 would see a $50 price cut, and the only catch was that it was only for the Pro model with the 20GB hard drive, and it was only temporary until the unit could be replaced with the new 60GB version, which would retail for the normal $349.99. Gamers were excited, then flummoxed, then irritated, and now sit in a state that can best be described as "antsy."

The rumor mill is turning once again, as it appears that Microsoft might be planning a real price cut, and this time it’s permanent and effective for all models. According to a Radio Shack flier dated September 7th, the Pro and Elite units will see a $50 drop to $299 and $399 respectively, while the Arcade price will tumble $80 to $199.

While this news was enticing enough, the punch has been sweetened as a companion rumor has sprung up claiming that the suddenly super-cheap Arcade unit will feature the long-rumored 360 motion controller, which will also be sold separately along with a game bundle for anyone who doesn’t want to plunk down the scratch on a whole new system.

This is one of those rumors that has big potential, but something also smells fishy. On the one hand, magazine scans proved to be legit the last time Microsoft dropped the 360 price, but this talk of the motion controller gives me pause. Thus far, Microsoft has been quick to deny any talk of a new controller, and with E3 over and Leipzig wrapping, the only possible time for them to debut such a device will be at PAX next week. However, considering the only source quoted for this part of the rumor is "a source close to Microsoft’s marketing department," it sounds like it may just be wishful thinking. Price cut looks solid; motion controller does not.

TGR Verdict: Price cut is Very Likely, new controller is Unlikely

More Peripherals Coming to Guitar Hero?

Guitar Hero: World Tour is making a big leap for this iteration, eschewing the traditional guitar-only format in favor of a full band experience, complete with mic and drums. These moves bring the series on par with the much-lauded Rock Band experience, but it looks like Activision and Red Octane want to step things up a notch, as G4 is claiming that yet another instrument is on the way, this one made especially for the game’s music creation studio.

Neversoft’s Brian Bright teased the new device, claiming that he "couldn’t go into detail," but that the peripheral would be used "specifically in Studio mode." G4 is guessing that we’ll be getting a keyboard, while Joystiq is humorously suggesting we’re about to see the return of the keytar. Still other outlets are suggesting it may be a mixing board, which ultimately means no one knows and we’re all just taking shots in the dark.

What we can be sure of, however, is that we have a developer from the studio discussing a new instrument, yet refusing to acknowledge what exactly it is. So to that end, we’re going to go ahead and call this one confirmed, while we’re left to speculate what precisely it is we’re confirming.

TGR Verdict: Rumor Confirmed, with hopes that the mysterious new instrument is a caliope.

Harmonix at Work on a New Music Game?

Gamers have a tough choice coming up in the next couple months, as both Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour drop into your life demanding your undivided rock attention. While Rock Band undoubtedly has the set list (over 200 songs available at launch, with 500 promised by the holidays), Guitar Hero is touting some wicked cool instruments and a brand new music creation mode which promises to let you relive the classics and create modern masterpieces of your own.

MTV Multiplayer took a minute to talk with Harmonix’s John Drake to get his thoughts on Guitar Hero‘s newfound music making, as well as get the dirt on whether or not Harmonix has similar plans. Drake’s response is quite revealing:

“The music creator thing… we’re a company of musicians, right? I have a band and a song in the game. We have over 40 bands in the company, 85% of us play an instrument, we really get music. We’ve talked about doing a music creator. We’ve actually done them before in other games that we’ve done like in “Amplitude” and “Frequency” … We’ve done the whole MIDI creation thing.

“We think we can do something really ambitious and really great that’s going to speak across all the users of the game, not just hardcore users — and that will result in some awesome stuff and not just ‘Final Fantasy‘ covers. I mean, I like [FF covers] too. So Harmonix is going to do something great with [music creation] down the road, we didn’t want to rush it out and do it half-assed. This is definitely a full-on project for us. You’ll hear more about it soon.”

It’s no surprise that Harmonix has something up their sleeve; as Drake said, the company is composed almost entirely of musicians, and even those who don’t play have a deep passion for music. So now the question becomes will this new project be some sort of download for Rock Band 2, a new feature in Rock Band 3, or a completely stand-alone experience? While we’re very curious, we’re more concerned with simply lining up outside GameStop at midnight on launch day and getting our copy of Rock Band 2. We can get back to all this creative nonsense once we’ve managed to tackle Dream Theater.

TGR Verdict: Rumor Confirmed

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