8 Wildest E3 2010 Rumors: True or False?

E3 Expo 2010

Every E3 there's the pre-show windup, riddled with gossip and hyperbole, and every year that windup gets longer.

Which ones make sense (or don't)? Which are just pranks? Viral rumors? Intentional misdirecting from public relations agents designed to lead tens of thousands of prying eyes astray?

Like everyone else, we can only promise half-guesses in our list below, but then what's the point of E3 without a monkey-barrel's worth of surprises?

Nintendo 3DS On Fire
Rumor: The Nintendo 3DS is 'Close To' a Portable PS3 or Xbox 360

Did I say 'half-guesses'? This one's no guess, it's patently false (however much we wish it were otherwise). Someone turned game site IGN's ear claiming as much and IGN listened, triggering an avalanche of speculative stories about the possibilities...or lack thereof (toward the latter, guilty as charged).

Why so dismissive? Common sense: Thermal dissipation and battery life. Even at a handheld's lower screen resolution, putting PS3 or Xbox 360 caliber power in handheld-sized housing is just pipe dreaming...unless you're game for maybe a half-hour of battery life, or think a Nintendo Oven Mitt accessory sounds like fun.

Expect the 3DS--which will unquestionably debut at E3--to be more powerful, sure, because it'll have to be to handle 3D output, just nothing like the PS3's monster Cell processor, or the Xbox 360's powerful Xenon triple-core. And besides, notwithstanding the Nintendo 64, when was Nintendo about bleeding-edge visuals anyway?

Sony PSP2 Mockup
Rumor: Sony Introduces the PSP2

Sources now say Sony won't reveal its handheld sequel to the PSP at E3, but they do claim the device is [bleep]ing powerful. Last year the company introduced its micro-sized PSPgo, which thanks to its unjustifiably high price point ($250) and UMD-incompatibility, hasn't fared as well as Sony hoped.

Sony's PSP2 reportedly has a touchscreen, two cameras (one front, one back), still no UMD drive, and a 3G wireless option. What about the long-hoped-for (if rarely rumored) second analog thumb-nub? Still a no-go, per the most recent tittle-tattle.

In any event, with Nintendo's 3DS all but guaranteed to put in an appearance at E3, Sony announcing a faster, cheaper version of the PSP soon--even if they delay until after the show--seems increasingly likely.

Xbox 360 HDD
Rumor: Microsoft Unveils an Xbox 360 'Slim'

Face it, the Xbox 360 looks like an old early-2000-style Dell Optiplex, not a game console. And like those not-so-ultra-slim desktops of yore, it's time for Microsoft's Xbox 360 to lose a little weight. (That, and some disc-drive decibel levels: The muted buzz-saw sound it makes still drives my wife out of the room each time I play a game straight from disc.)

The rumor mill cooked up this story ("Is This an Xbox 360 'Slim' Motherboard?") back in March, when a Chinese site "leaked" a snap of an alleged micro-ATX-sized Xbox 360 motherboard. Microsoft declined to comment.

True or false? I say likely. Microsoft could bundle a diet-sized Xbox 360 with its motion-control add-on, Project Natal (or whatever they opt to officially rebrand it at the show). It'd be cheaper to produce, friendlier to home entertainment centers, and, if the gods favor us, quieter too.

(And no, in case you're wondering, that's not an Xbox 360 'slim' mockup in the picture, it's just the bygone Xbox 360 HD-DVD player.)

$199.99 PS3
Rumor: Sony Reveals a 'Budget' $199.99 PS3

Just yesterday Sony's new 3D website listed a PlayStation 3 for $199.99 under the '3D-Compatible Products' section, generating buzz about a possible entry-level PS3 $100 cheaper than its $299.99 120GB model.

Sony now says it's just a typo (as if they'd say anything else). Even still, the company only sells two storage-differentiated models, the 120GB for $300 and a 250GB alternative for $350. While those two may offer better value in a spec-for-spec faceoff with Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony lacks an entry-level PS3 that could compete in the 'price tag for price tag' column.

Super Mario Galaxy HD
Rumor: Nintendo Reveals a High-Definition Wii Add-On

This one's easy: No way, no how. Why? Because Nintendo's E3 2010 press show's about the 3DS, not the Wii. Plus the Wii's still outselling everyone, every month, without pause, and without high-definition games. End of story.

Xbox 360 Hulu
Rumor: Xbox LIVE Gets Hulu Streaming Video

Technically the Xbox 360 already has Hulu. If you're willing to pay for it via MediaMall's PlayOn, that is. But if you'd rather just pay Microsoft $50 a year for an Xbox LIVE gold subscription (to subsequently pay Hulu to subscribe to their service), rumor has it--and I'm voting likely here--that the service will debut for Xbox LIVE at E3 next week.

PlayStation Network
Rumor: Sony Launches a 'Premium' Pay-For PlayStation Network Service

Microsoft already does this, for good or ill, with its optional $50 a year Xbox LIVE membership, so why not Sony? The latter has as much to gain, and--if it keeps online multiplayer on the "free" side of things--nothing to lose. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president Andrew House recently affirmed the company is "looking at a premium service to sit alongside the current free service," though stressing that the current PSN "will remain a free service."

Whether it's an E3-caliber announcement is anyone's guess, and dependent on the maturity of the services or membership benefits Sony's planning to place behind the pay-wall.

The Elder Scrolls V
Rumor: We'll Finally See Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V

No, we won't. Bethesda's next great fantasy role-playing epic may or may not be an MMO, may or may not be an Elder Scrolls, and for all we know, may or may not be in development, but one thing's almost certain--we won't see it at E3 2010.

As I wrote earlier, I take Bethesda's Pete Hines at his word when he says E3 "bombshells" are pointless. Bethesda's already listed its E3 lineup, including Brink (their "ground breaking shooter"), Hunted (a third-person co-op fantasy action game), RAGE (id Software's next big first-person shooter), and Fallout: New Vegas, the latest not-an-expansion-to-Fallout-3 chapter in the Fallout roleplaying saga.

I'd say that's plenty, with or without an Elder Scrolls game.

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