Rumor Killers: December 12

Rumor Killers

Has UGO decided to buy the 1UP Network?

The economic downturn has hit gaming, and it’s not restricted to just developers and publishers. Earlier this week, Joystiq published a story that UGO Entertainment is in high-level talks to buy the 1UP network, meaning that one less semi-independent gaming outlet is set to bite the dust.

According to the sources in the story, 1UP editors were informed of the discussions earlier this week, and UGO executives have been spending the past few days touring the offices and getting a feel for their new digs. For their part, UGO is promising to keep 1UP as a separate entity from the rest of their network, thus meaning that many end users won’t see much of a difference other than a new corporate logo appearing on the bottom of the page. Of course, there will likely be staff shake-ups, as changes in ownership normally result in a wave of resignations, transfers, and layoffs as the smoke clears and the dust settles.

There is one issue we haven’t discussed yet, and that’s the fate of troubled gaming mag EGM. Unfortunately, the ol’ glossy isn’t a part of the UGO deal, which likely means that the run is over, and it’s suspected that the February issue of EGM will be the last we ever see. These fears were further heightened when news came down yesterday that the Spanish edition of EGM was going out of print, effective immediately. Editorial director Adrián Carbajal cited the uncertain future of the US edition as the main reason for his magazine’s collapse, leading us to believe that our warnings in November are coming true.

So get ready to hear about a new set of suits in the 1UP offices and start sealing all those back issues of EGM in Mylar; looks like they’re about to become collector’s items.

TGR Verdict: Rumor Extremely Likely

Is Disney considering an EA buyout?

Gaming giant EA is no stranger to mergers and acquisitions, as the company has built itself up as the largest of all game publishers largely through buying out the competition and bringing them under the ginormous Electronic Arts umbrella. Still, the biggest attempted merger in company history was EA’s effort to woo Take-Two — a long, very public battle which eventually ended in both sides walking away from the table, still intact. However, it seems as though EA’s merging days might not be over, as now there are whispers that Disney, a truly gargantuan entity, is considering expanding its presence in the gaming world by gobbling up EA.

The rumor stems from the Wall Street Journal’s "Heard on the Street" column, as reported by financial website The Motley Fool. The Foolish writers (not an insult, that’s what they call themselves) speculate that a deal may be in the works based on the comments of company CFO Tom Skaggs. When asked if the company would rather focus on developing its own games or buying out other companies and then slapping the Disney label on them Skaggs responded, "I don’t want you to conclude that those are in the long term mutually exclusive." He also added that, "strategic and attractive" purchase would be "a possibility."

So what does it all mean? Well ultimately it would seem like not much. The Motley Fool admits that the whole idea is reasonable, yet far-fetched, and neither side has made overtures indicating that a deal is in the works. While the Fool’s list of reasons why a merger would make sense is very impressive, good ideas do not a deal make. In short, don’t expect Peter Moore’s next tattoo to feature Mickey Mouse; Goofy maybe, but not Mickey.

TGR Verdict: Rumor Very Unlikely

Will Santa and Marcus meet in 2010?

Even though most gamers are just now really getting their chainsaw bayonets warmed up properly, attention has already begun to turn towards the next entry in the Gears of War franchise. Already folks around the industry are asking when Marcus and friends will take on the Locust horde once more, and according to CVG the answer might just be Christmas 2010.

Apparently, work on the next edition of Gears started before the current project even wrapped up, and now the team is roughly 24 months from completion of the story’s third act. While there obviously aren’t many details about the game yet available, CVG is reporting that the title is set to feature five-player co-op, meaning that now gamers will have a full squadron at their disposal for campaign missions.

In related news, the same story states that Cliff Bleszinski’s rumored multiplatform survival horror title is alive and well, and that Epic has a full team working on the project to make it a reality. Of course, when you’ve made the studio as much money as Cliff has, you’re allowed to appropriate a team in order to make your pet project — just look at what happened last time.

Still, the question at hand is if Gears 3 can make a release date roughly 2 years away, and the answer is that it’s possible, but right now it’s impossible to tell. Games are such complicated things that it’s fallacy to try to nail down a release date this far out, not to mention the fact that since this is one of Microsoft’s flagship franchises, everything has to be absolutely perfect. Still, the first two games were almost exactly two years apart, so it may be that the third will manage to keep to the same schedule. And thus we wait and see when we will be greeted with a red, red Christmas.

TGR Verdict: Rumor Somewhat Likely

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