As youíll probably know, Xbox 360 is to be unveiled the Monday before E3 next month. And in these days of increasingly manipulative advertising, itís simply not enough to say, ďOh, guys, weíve been working on a new console, we think youíre going to like it. Hereís a list of its specifications and featuresĒ.
Nope, weíre afraid itís another one of those Alternate Reality Game (ARG) thingies, even if it says it isnít. Or maybe just a hoax. Go to ourcolony.net
and have a look for yourselves. Couched in pally, Morpheus-esque riddlings, the site invites you to gain entry and work yourself into a lather of fanboy excitement over itís contents, which donít tell you much beyond said riddles, including a picture of what may or may not be an Xbox 360 controller.
You may be wondering where there's a link to Xbox. Well, keen eyed Xbox fanboys made the leap between the ourcolony ant logo and several presentation slides for the next generation Live featuring what appears to be J.Allard wearing an ourcolony t-shirt.
You'll recall that Microsoft undertook a similar approach to pimping Halo 2. Stuck not so subtley on the end of the Halo2 trailer was a blipvert message reading "ilovebees.com". Those who spotted it wondered what the hell it was about and, upon visiting the address, saw what appeared to be a site that had been hacked. Infact, it was an ARG dubbed the "Haunted Apiary" which, through the site and an accompanying blog by the site's "author", presented cryptic puzzles for ARG players to crack in order to unfurl the game's story.
Just like the last one, players must decypher cryptic numbers, images and messages that contain pieces to the puzzle. The key difference this time being that instead of players forming communities outside of the game, the communities gather on the Our Colony site, and can forge their own "colony", scoring team points as they play.
So what could the game's marketing message be? The Haunted Apiary borrowed from Halo's rampant AI theme, and offered eager fans a teasing insight into Halo's next instalment - drawing them right into the Halo universe in fact. Ourcolony may well be a demonstration of the community and team building features of Xbox 360 Live - after all, the ARG does require the player to create a "gamertag".
Be sure to check back at SPOnG for coverage of any PS3 and Xbox 2 revelations and rumours. Until then, we're off for our weekend colonic...