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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Next Xbox hiding on Web?

Rumors, clues, misinformation and plain ol' bunk continue to pile up regarding the next version of the Xbox, but some of the most intriguing rumors may be coming through a backdoor from Redmond.

Gamers have been busy the past few weeks decrypting clues from Our Colony, a kind of ant-theme alternate reality game that appears to be a stealth marketing ploy for the next Xbox.

The site's home page includes a counter whose end date happens to coincide with the MTV unveiling of the next Xbox. Opening page images include something that looks an awful lot like the power switch for the current Xbox. And players who manage to sort out the bewildering series of clues (recent entries have required familiarity with Coleridge's "Kubla Kahn," for instance) have been rewarded with prizes that include blurry images of an unknown consumer electronics item.

Microsoft employed a similar tactic last year for the hit Xbox game "Halo 2," which was preceded by the game/stealth marketing site "I Love Bees."