This has gone beyond amusing into the realm of annoying. Shane Kim, GM of Microsoft Game Studios, responded to a question about Halo 3 thusly:
Shane Kim: I call it The Mythical Halo 3 - we haven't announced any such game yet! Obviously the Halo franchise is very important to us. When you have Bill Gates being quoted fairly constantly, talking about a game, you know it's important to the company. But his recent comments reflect the position accurately. Which is that, if there were a Halo 3 we would be careful about how we announce and introduce it.
Does anybody honestly believe that Microsoft's chairman doesn't know what's going on with a product like Halo and has to be reminded before repeatedly making public statements? Does anyone honestly not believe that what actually went on here is that Gates spilled the beans-- more than once-- and then had to be reined in to respect the right of Bungie Studios to control their own announcements about what games are under development?
Of course Bungie should jealously protect whatever rights for self-determination they received in terms of the buyout; but for everyone else, this game isn't fun anymore. If there is actually a Halo 3 under development, then the final revelation that it does, in fact, exist, is going to evoke universal reactions of "no kidding". If it isn't, then Microsoft has been playing coy all this time when it could have just said it was giving the Halo franchise a rest for awhile to let Bungie work on something else. They haven't said that. In fact, at this time, if it were announced that Halo 3 was NOT under development for the Xbox 360, you'd probably see Microsoft's stock take a hit, as if there's no system-selling game coming out once the supply problems are taken care of, there'll be little reason that all the Halo and Halo 2 fans have to upgrade. They might have survived such negative consequences had they made such an announcement right after the launch of Halo 2. But everyone is expecting Halo 3 now.
Either Halo 3 is currently in development for the Xbox 360, or we've all been so fooled by Microsoft's application of reverse psychology that our brain matter has turned to mush.
Incidentally, Bungie knew that people would be scrutinizing their last update-- a video tour of their offices which for reasons of secrecy doesn't actually feature much of their offices, unless you count Starbuck's, the alley outside, a storage area and the air conditioners part of the office-- for clues about the next project, so the titles "Pimps At Sea" and even "Marathon 4" were prominently featured on whiteboards for our amusement.