Via Gamespot

Last year, journalists who arrived early for the Electronic Entertainment Expo glimpsed the first clues that the event had a momentous announcement in store. Until then, Sony had maintained a monastic level of silence regarding its next-generation console. The device didn't have a name yet, and reps for the electronics giant shot down any inquiry about the unnamed device with the refrain "Sony has not made any announcements regarding PS3." (Sony used PS3 as shorthand in correspodence, but insisted it was not an official name.)

That official wall of silence showed its first cracks the weekend before E3. As a small army of roadies set up dozens of multimillion dollar displays inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, Sony was busy plastering the outside with massive billboards saying "Welcome Chang3." The words were written in the distinctive PlayStation 2 font, and were next to partially obscured recreations of the PlayStation's emblematic triangle-circle-square-X buttons.

Not only were the "Welcome Chang3" ads on the LACC's exterior, they also appeared inside bus shelters around the massive venue and, most eerily, on stickers stuck to the screens of televisions inside game journalists' hotel rooms.

Within days of the ads going up, Sony officially unveiled--and named--the PlayStation 3 in a press conference which remains controversial to this day. One year later, the Japanese electronics giant appears to be up to the same tricks. Once again, Sony has covered the area around the LACC with a series of ads. But while the "Chang3" ads were pretty obvious, the new campaign is taking a more subtle tack.

The most obvious ads are a series of massive billboards prominently visible from the LACC's main entrance. One shows a surrealistic take on a game of rock-paper-scissors--with the person making "scissors" actually having steel blades for fingers, and the person making "rock" actually having a stone fist.

Another ad, which covers one side of the neighboring Staples Center, shows a massive canyon with a person in the upper-right-hand corner who looks as though he's about to jump off a cliff. Two ads on nearby triangular kiosks show similar scenes of extreme outdoor activity: one of a woman traversing a series of gymnastic rings above a red-hot lava floe, another of someone playing on a swing--underneath a structure resembling the 630-foot St. Louis Arch.

All four of these ads have two things in common--they each have the words "Play Beyond" on the top and the PlayStation logo at the bottom. However, their meaning is less clear. The most prevalent theory is that they are the beginning of the ad campaign for the PlayStation 3's online service, since they appear to be deliberately one-upping Xbox 360's current tagline, "Jump In." Others have taken the rock-paper-scissors ad as a portent that the new PlayStation 3 controller--which will be unveiled on Monday--will have some kind of motion-sensing capability like the Nintendo Wii.

However, until there is official word, these theories are just that--theories. As of press time, Sony reps were unavailable for comment. However, their meaning should be more clear on Monday afternoon following Sony's pre-E3 press conference.