As gaming's big week prepares to kick off tonight with a circus-themed blow-out in downtown Los Angeles, the rumors are beginning to hit a fevered pitch.
Three bits of news came to our attention this weekend. Let's run through them from most likely to least likely:
Patrice Désilets is headed to THQ Montreal: We know Patrice Désilets, the creative director for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, may have left his job just as the publisher is speeding the sequelization of the very successful franchise. But now we're hearing that Désilets has landed comfortably at THQ's new Montreal offices.
Microsoft to unveil a smaller black Xbox 360 this week: Not only have a number of our sources been telling us that a mini-Xbox 360 is coming, but now ads for the device appear to be popping up on some international sites. The ads say it is compatible with "Kinect", has built-in Wi-Fi and that it sports a 250GB harddrive. (The ad had been running on this Italian site, linking to the official Xbox Italy webpage, but it was pulled a few minutes after this posted was published.)
Project Natal is now called Kinect: We're hearing that Microsoft's motion-sensing Project Natal add-on for the Xbox 360 will be officially renamed Kinect. While it's possible that the news won't hit until tomorrow, our money is on the name popping up tonight during Microsoft's big show. There is a trademark for the term filed by Microsoft in late April for "computer software, computer hardware, and computer peripherals." The term Kinect appears in an Italian Xbox ad, and while it could refer to something other than the bound-to-be-renamed Project Natal, the prominence in the ad suggests it is the new name for the new Xbox hands-free control system.
See the Xbox "slim"/Kinect ad for yourself: