Fallout 4 ‘Survivor 2299’ Hoax: Bethesda Disappoints Fans

Fallout 4 Survivor 2299 an elaborate hoax Bethesda disappoints fans

We have finally come to the end of the road, and the Fallout 4 ‘Survivor 2299’ teaser website has now been confirmed a hoax. Along the journey, a number of suspicious pieces of evidence materialized, but blind hope and optimism kept the entire community going. Like the Reddit and Fallout community, we produced a number of articles speculating over evidence, for and against the site’s legitimacy and joining in with the Fallout 4 speculation:

Alas, it has all been for nothing.

The Big Fallout 4 Troll

Undoubtedly, Survivor 2299 was an incredibly elaborate and well implemented hoax, succeeding in trolling a hopeful community. The site eked out a number of cryptic clues, over the course of a three week period, Survivor 2299 confirmed a hoaxgarnering the undivided attention of Fallout fanatics and triggering gaming hysteria.

Other hoax websites came and went, faked audio tapes were released and radio frequency broadcast transmissions were passed off as the bogus musings of tricksters. Meanwhile, the Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market (OHIM) discarded a trademark application for Fallout 4. In spite of these events, the steadfast community held together and continued deciphering the Morse code sequences and text ciphers from Survivor 2299.

On Dec. 7, however, the dreams of many were collectively crushed. The developer(s) of Survivor 2299 could continue the rouse, no longer, and elected to come clean. The authors posted a new message, “THAT’S ALL FOLKS,” alongside a YouTube clip of some downbeat violin music.

The remainder of the message read, as follows:

“Remember! don’t [sic] be mad at Bethesda. They are an awesome company. Special thanks to /r/Fallout the most amazing community on Reddit for resolving all clues. PSA: YT User ‘Elevated Level’, Butch, Pitor, Liam Neeson and creator tunnelsnakerule.com are not responsible for this ‘hoax/rickroll’.PPS [sic] To real haters: if you really wish me dead IRL, go there . [sic]”

The creator, who did not feel brave/stupid enough to post his real name or details, then left an e-mail address, with which aggrieved fans could vent their spleen – “iamreallyupset@gmail.com.”

Bethesda in the Bad Books?

Why did Bethesda not denounce Survivor 2299This does, however, raise an interesting question; despite the media frenzy surrounding the occasion, why did Bethesda or ZeniMax fail to pass comment on the authenticity of Survivor 2299? The website had been in operation for several weeks and not once did the Maryland-based company step in and officially denounce the site. However, on Dec. 6, the company did issue the following non-committal statement through Twitter:

“PSA: If you don’t hear it through an official channel like this, assume all rumors and speculation are false.”

Of course, since the site was a teaser, by definition, people were unwilling to adhere to this advice and remained convinced that it was all part of Bethesda’s master plan.

Angry Fallout fans attack Bethesda on TwitterMany disgruntled Fallout fans took to Twitter to ensure Bethesda was well aware of their displeasure. When Crash Rakashe enquired as to why it had taken Bethesda so long to dismiss the site, the company offered weak justification.

Twitter user Zephyr offered his indignant opinions on the latest debacle, criticizing Bethesda for their inactivity:

“You guys lost much credibility and respect from many people. It’s been hyped up for weeks. Should’ve said something.”

In response to this excoriating remark, company officials attempted to quell the fury and discontent of their fans with the promise of “… teasing something new,” in the near future.

Indeed, the press were just as in the dark as the Fallout community. The Las Vegas Guardian Express attempted to seek clarification from Bethesda on four separate occasions, with no response on each try; other news agencies were similarly left in the dark.

Many Redditors made the observation that Bethesda were stocking more and more merchandise, coincidentally, as the Survivor 2299 website continued to churn out cipher after cipher. It should also be noted, the company was involved in offering Black Friday sales discounts, something the Reddit and Fallout community readily lapped up.

Interest in Fallout 4 over time
Interest in Fallout 4 over the past 90 days, in accordance with Google Trend statistics.

Taking into consideration that Survivor 2299 had dramatically increased the interest in Fallout 4, it is quite conceivable that this added publicity could have equated to an increase in sales of Fallout paraphernalia. After having observed the Redditors over the past few weeks, it became clear that the hype was generating an increase in attention for the company’s merchandise range. Indeed, there have been one or two threads, albeit small, talking about Survivor 2299 and its relationship to newly released Fallout merchandise.

Around two weeks ago, when the Survivor 2299 website was beginning to gain momentum, Reddit user Knightfall2 made the following prophetical comment, in a post entitled “please brace yourselves for any outcome”:

“Merchandise: Bethesda has released a number of fallout related items this past week. This could go either way, they are trying to hype up the fallout by sending out more merchandise to go along with a fallout 4 announcement. Or, they are releasing fallout merchandise to take advantage of the free marketing that is coming from the survivor website. Hopefully it is the former but we will see [sic].”

Vice President of Bethesda Softworks Pete Hines, the man entrusted with “public relations and marketing of games,” took to Twitter to defend his position. When Twitterer Matt Gregoire called the company out for not proclaiming Survivor 2299 to be a hoax, Hines issued the following statement:

“@mattyg344 that’s what we tried to do today. We have never talked about or promoted that site”

Bethesda's Pete Hines
Bethesda’s VP of PR and Marketing Pete Hines

Whilst Hines’ statement is undeniably true, many Fallout fans have questioned why the company did not use their many channels of communication to definitively state Survivor 2299 to be a fake, over the many weeks it has been running. Likewise, the question could be pitched: when does the omission of a truth become a lie?

Naturally, Redditors, and Fallout fans alike, are feeling disillusioned at the moment – a number of which are convinced of Bethesda’s mea culpa, allowing the rouse to perpetuate unabated for so long. However, something good has come out of the deceit; the community has been brought together. Even now, diehard Fallout fans have taken to the “Disappointment Megathread” to discuss their feelings. Many Redditors also explain how much they enjoyed dissecting the cryptic codes and sharing their thoughts and speculations with fellow enthusiasts.

So, although the Fallout 4 teaser, Survivor 2299, has now been proven an elaborate hoax, at least some good has come of the whole event.

By James Fenner

Survivor 2299

Fallout Subreddit (Disappointment Megathread)

Fallout Subreddit (Knightfall2)

Fallout Subreddit (Merchandise)

Bethesda Twitter

Fallout Wikia (Pete Hines)


13 Responses to "Fallout 4 ‘Survivor 2299’ Hoax: Bethesda Disappoints Fans"

  1. Tomislav Raguž   July 3, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I know Survivor2299’s story may seem an empty dream now but it sure got the attention of Fallout 4 fans and Bethesda Softworks alike. Could be they didnt want to say it was a lie becouse of 2 reasons:

    1) They havent started making the game yet (or at least they dont have a story yet) or

    2)DLC. Simple as that. Fans wanted the story of Desmond and the Institute and all that other stuff so they put it in the game after they are done with the main game (if so I’d buy the game mostly cause that addon)

    Not saying it WILL be in the game, just that it MIGHT. Hard to see how anyone can throw away a story like that though.

  2. Mauro Augusto   December 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Bethesda, the MASTERS of the merchandise. Every single soul that got interest in Fallout 4 during that time has just fallen into the bobby trap. Even people who don’t play video games knows what Skyrim means (and somewhat with Oblivion too few years ago)

    Expect a lot of merchandising running about. You see something related to Beths, you can bet that it is from them somewhere.

  3. Heywood J.   December 9, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Couple theories on why Bethesda had such a weak denial of involvement on The Survivor 2299: 1.) They thought it was entertaining to see how excited people were getting. Only after a lot of momentum was gained, did they step in to squash it. 2.) They were too busy trying to polish that turd-of-a-game ‘Elder Scrolls Online’.

    Bethesda’s response was nothing short of piss-poor. If someone was using creatives (logos, themes, etc.) in order to promote something from my company w/o authorization, I would denounce it immediately. By not having a more pronounced denial of involvement, they opened themselves up to tarnishing their reputation.

    I would have had a lot more respect for Bethesda if they had stated clearly this was a hoax, however there is admiration for this fan’s zealous attempt at generating interest in another Fallout installment.

  4. Joey Thurman   December 8, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I read comments on Facebook of fans repeatedly saying that if it ended up being a big hoax that they would kill themselves. Hope they didn’t go through with those threats 🙁

  5. kenflott (@kenflott)   December 8, 2013 at 4:13 am

    In response to this excoriating remark, company officials attempted to quell the fury and discontent of their fans with the promise of “… teasing something new,” in the near future.

    They never mentioned “in the near future” you wrongly inferred that. Why?

  6. Captain Logic   December 8, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Why are you all so angry at Bethesda, you should’ve known it was fake when Bethesda had no comment, or never mentioned it in anything of their’s, so to be honest a lot of you should have used comment sense.

    • Pony   December 8, 2013 at 11:50 am

      No. Bethesda is known for immediate cancellation of any rumors regarding any possibility of oncoming games.

  7. Jarrod   December 7, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Tbh, I’m not mad our upset with the makers of the hoax, this was fun. Though it is upsetting that it’s a hoax it was awesome to see/hear all of the new messages. I am however disappointed in Bethesda for not shooting it down immediately and profiting on peoples false hope. Very greedy, very shameful.

  8. John   December 7, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    What a let down, that turned out to be!. At least i can take comfort in knowing; that Bethesda are most likely half way done with fallout 4 ( Here’s hoping, of course). I’m not a Fallout fan boy… I’m a Fallout FanMan. *Everyone says “lol” after reading that*.

  9. Taryl   December 7, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    I’m pissed at the guy who made the site, and I’m pissed at Bethesda for not saying its fake, OR JUST ANNOUNCING IT ALREADY. THEY ENDED MY SKYRIM DLCs FOR A PROJECT TO NEVER BE RELEASED!!!

  10. Jessticle Von Burling   December 7, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I just feel cheated! Why could they have not released a statement to just clear the air? Thousands of people have been checking on on Survivor2299 everyday and the one thing keeping them coming back for more was that Bethesda hadn’t denied any of it, like they were getting some kind of weird enjoyment of fans being tortured with hints and clues. Maybe my disappointment is clouding my judgement but we’re all wanting a new Fallout so bad! I definitely reckon the new game should have ‘Survivor 2299’ DLC to pay well due respect to the site creator for creativity and… balls!

  11. CJ Williams   December 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I do think that Bethesda acted inappropriately. I understood Survivor could’ve been a hoax but wanted it to be true so bad but one of the main things that kept me believing was Bethesda’s lack of intervention. They started a war with Notch and Mojang over the whole “Scrolls” fiasco but they let a site adorned with a Vault-Tec logo and multiple mentions of a Vault (119) and The Institute, a solid piece of lore alluded to numerous times in Fallout 3, slide right by them for the best part of a month. Because of this I thought that it could be true.
    Tbh the best I, or perhaps we as the Fallout community, could hope for is for Bethesda to ride on the free hype that 2299 created and actually set off on working to get us Fallout 4, I reckon that they’re working on it now anyway given how they create their games. Oblivion then F3 then Skyrim (Excluding FNV as that was OBSIDIAN and not BethSoftworks) and so hopefully F4 is on the way.
    Hell if Bethesda are the geniuses I hope they are then they should hire the person/people behind this brilliant hoax for their REAL marketing strategy, I mean it is one hell of a resume am I right?. If they did they’d have the tools to create undoubtedly the best hype up and ARG for a videogame of recent generations. Alas, for now I guess Survivor 2299 will have to settle for being one of the most elaborate and loved/hated trolls I have ever seen. Loved every minute of it and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as Tunnel Snakes Rule!!!! started to play on the site.
    Part of me, in hindsight, actually wishes that Bethesda gave them a little more time so they could come up with a better punchline for such a hyped up hoax. I can’t imagine the Rick Roll/Tunnel Snakes/ Sad Violin combo being the intended outcome. Probably put together ’cause Bethesda started breathing down their necks 🙂
    Christ I’ve typed that much? Disappointed/ambitious rambling over :P. As you were.

    • Kevin Furlong   December 8, 2013 at 7:59 am

      If you look at the AMA that the hoaxer did you will see that he did not want to use any of the clichéd videos that he did end up using. Bethesda forced him to end the site earlier than he wanted to.


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