Speculation over the destination of Capcom's latest Resident Evil horror blockbuster has been reignited, with Xbox Japan boss Takashi Sensui refusing to deny fresh rumours that Microsoft has snatched exclusivity for the game.
The first next-gen instalment in Capcom's lucrative zombie franchise, which was announced for both PS3 and 360 last year, was conspicuous by its complete absence from last week's pivotal Tokyo Game Show, despite being pencilled in for a release by March 2007 according to the Japanese company's own fiscal reports.
Industry chatter at the Tokyo event claimed Resident Evil's no-show is owing to Microsoft tying up a shock exclusivity deal for 360, with an announcement due at the US firm's X06 event in Barcelona next week.
Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz at TGS 2006, Xbox boss Sensui refused to pour cold water on the rumour when questioned, stating that it had already been announced for Xbox 360 and adding, somewhat enigmatically: "All I can say is we are very good friends with Mr Inafune [the game's producer]."
Capcom, for its part, has not made any suggestion that Resident Evil 5's original status as a PS3 and Xbox 360 title has changed. But the former Sony stalwart has been forging increasingly close ties with Microsoft. Survival-horror romp Dead Rising, a 360-exclusive, recently released to great success in Europe, and a further hotly-tipped Xbox-only title, Lost Planet, is due in January. Capcom is also currently working on a separate Resident Evil title, Umbrella Chronicles, exclusively for Nintendo's Wii system.
Should the rumours prove to be of substance, the securing of 360 exclusivity for Resident Evil 5 would clearly be a massive coup for Microsoft. The series commands a huge global fanbase which would boost its console's appeal in all territories.
Industry watchers today said the onus was now on Capcom to clarify the status of the title in light of the current speculation. A spokesperson for the Japanese publisher was unavailable for comment.