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Rumor: Indian gaming company to buy out Sony Online Entertainment for $300 million [update]

This story has been circulating message boards and gaming industry sites for the past few hours -- Zapak Digital Entertainment, an India-based online gaming portal similar to Pogo or Miniclip, is supposedly set to buy out Sony Online Entertainment, American developer and publisher of Star Wars Galaxies and the Everquest series, for about $300 million sometime in the next few days. It's part of Zapak's plan to "expand [their] reach in the global market," and will hopefully give the company the momentum it needs to make an impact on the gaming scene in China, their next big goal.

Something about this story just doesn't sit right with us enough to report it as fact just yet. Maybe it's the source -- The Economic Times, the Indian online newspaper which broke the story, does not name any of its sources in its article, which has a number of unattributed quotes. This could just mean that they're breaking the story earlier than Zapak or SOE would have liked, and they're protecting their source, most likely an employee for one of the companies -- but it's enough to raise a skeptical eyebrow. Still, it wouldn't be the first completely surprising business deal that went down this month.

(Thanks, Zak.)

Update: Our sneaking suspicion that the story was false was apparently correct -- SOE CEO John Smedley told sister site Massively that the rumours are completely false; Reuters also confirms with a report that a SOE spokesperson recently spoke to them on the telephone and completely denied the Zapak buyout. SOE is currently talking to various companies in India to try to bring their games to the country, but in no way is Zapak buying them.

(Thanks, Ashe, for bringing this to our attention in such an expeditious manner.)

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