Viacom, News Corp, Time Warner, Disney, these and a few other big time media corporations are making, or have announced intentions, to enter the gaming industry.

It makes sense as the revenue streams are just too big to ignore. All the cross-licensing stuff with movies, TV shows, etc., also could make things awfully interesting if they are creative about it.

Though News Corp looks to be the front runner to acquire Take Two Interactive, suppose Time Warner got them? Would you rather see Big Love on HBO (a Time Warner property), or an adult-themed Grand Theft Auto animated series?

Just imagine the possibilities.

But it won't go down like that, unfortunately.

See, while developers and publishers continue to be eyed as additions to a corporation's portfolio, that is all they will probably ever be.

Corporate cats usually don't like controversy, they don't like nurturing properties to make it the best it can be (we regularly hear game developers say "it's done when it's done" still), and we rarely get any "outside the box" products from the huge media conglomerates.

All of which are key ingredients that have made gaming what it is today. What everyone wants a piece of.

Make no doubt about it, there is a shift coming, as even more money comes pouring into gaming. The question is what exactly will be coming out?

Book 'em, Danno. Please?

Kentucky's Campbell County Library seems to have seen the light, I think. Not only can you go there to check out books, study, do some research, or look for a date with a smart person, you can now check out video games at all three branches. Seems like a cool way to boost the library's image with kids these days. But may I suggest a couple of stipulations? First, no one under age 18 should take out a game without a book. If they don't read it, that is their problem, but at least you tried. Second, wherever these games are displayed there should be just as much reading material on games and their history. There are many great books from industry chroniclers including Chris Bateman and Steven Kent. How cool would that be?

360 Tricks and Treats

It's great to hear that we finally have a date for the release of Halo 3 beta (May 16). And for those of you who haven't seen the new eight-minute documentary on the latest Master Chief saga, it's available all over the place (Gamespot.com, Bungie.net, Xbox Live Marketplace) and is well worth downloading. MS also has announced plans for the spring update for the 360, including easier ways to navigate online and further integration with its MSN messenger service. Available soon will be a tiny keyboard that clips to your controller.

But it's not all good. After raising the ire of many Xbox-ers with the release of the pretty silly and expensive Xbox 360 Elite (bigger hard drive and HDMI, but no HD-DVD), MS is putting its hands in our pockets again. It is fair to say that Epic's Gears of War singlehandedly put at least a million more 360's in the hands of gamers over the holidays with most ponying up an extra $50 for Xbox Live. Now, the first batch of extra content is ready for the game. "We always take care of our customers, we always give them stuff for free," said Epic president Mike Capps in an interview a couple of months ago. "That's how we do it. This is Epic."

"Nope," is basically what MS has said as the content will cost something (no price is yet announced) for the new maps and a new game mode. The crazy part is that stuff will be free in a couple of months. A bargain struck with Epic.

"Epic thinks the way to maximize the return on Gears of War is to give the maps away for free," said Marc Rein in an interview with gaming site 1up.com. "Microsoft thinks the way to maximize the return on Gears of War is to sell the maps."

We say "straight garbage" on this move. Though most addicted Gears gamers will buy the stuff, they deserve the freebie. MS is making plenty of money from the Live service. A money-grubbing moment for MS, this is.

Wii woes continue

Many gamers are e-mailing me and complaining that they still can't get a Wii. "There is a lot going on behind the scenes in terms of working on what we are producing, and the numbers continue to rise," Perrin Kaplan, Nintendo's vice president of marketing and corporate affairs told Gametheoryshow.com. "But the product is so very popular that we may see a supply/demand situation last for some time."

Does anyone want to bet that there won't be enough Wiis until say, Halo 3 or GTA VI, comes out? Chew on that one, conspiracy theorists.