No it's not true. People who have been around Pinside for years will tell you the same thing happens every year-Summer. It is a time where people are outside and busy, and so the usual number of posters is less and the number of games for sale is also significantly less.
Robin Pinside is a great forum and I enjoy the format and all of the features. As for a the idea of having a separate sub forum for people to talk I am not sure if it would be feasible. I may recommend just adding a thread topic that reads "Pinside Chat Room-On Topic" and "Pinside Chat Room-Off Topic". People can go and just talk about anything without moderation or being "off topic from thread title". Just an idea but it seems like we already have the basement and nobody seems to use it. Thanks for all that you do Robin, Pinside is great and I agree with you on why people have shown negativity towards all of the new titles and the manufactures defects(lots to talk about). A forum is a public place to discuss all aspects of a hobby. I actually have received very valuable information by reading and listening to people's opinions whether negative or positive. The new game release threads seem to be very popular and the technical help threads tend to get lost. In the new game threads peoples opinions get very passionate and can escalate a conversation really quickly. People can view these comments as negative but in reality it just comes down to differences in opinions. Instead of perceiving a comment as negative, maybe just take it as a difference in opinions, agree to disagree. Everything can become a positive if you make it positive. My .02