A new Fallout 4 rumor was disseminated through the illustrious social news and entertainment site Reddit. A redditor, going by the username Vithren, posted an image of a “Fallout 4 announcement” on Jan. 8, 2014.
The hoaxer claimed the image to have been distributed, via e-mail, by the developers of the Fallout franchise, Bethesda Softworks. The post was assigned the heading, “Fallout 4 announcement? Email from Bethesda!”
The image in question proclaimed, “Come visit our very special announcement,” using a Fallout-esque font. The supposed announcement then concluded with a release date (12.01.14), a “#BETHBLOG” Twitter hashtag and Bethesda’s “BETHSOFT.COM” website. Assuming the release date was designed to conform to the month-day-year format, the date would have inferred some sort of reveal on Dec. 1, 2014. If, however, the release date was in the day-month-year European format – a mistake that was made by the Survivor2299 hoaxer – the release date would have alluded to a reveal on Jan. 12, 2014.
The image was designed to deceive Fallout fans into believing Bethesda had sent e-mails from its “firstname.lastname@example.org” address.
The hoax immediately prompted redditors to speculate over the precise implications of its message and what the date could refer to. Members of the Fallout community were, once more, whipped into a fanatical frenzy and thousands of gamers flocked to inspect the post.
However, clearly learning from their previous mistakes, Bethesda officials immediately announced that the image was a fake. Bethesda’s Vice President of PR and Marketing Pete Hines is alleged to have informed Gaming Blend that the e-mail was yet another hoax. Hines also took to Twitter to ensure the public was kept informed on the hoax.
The latest incident comes in the wake of an elaborate ruse – orchestrated by an unknown trickster – whereby a fake teaser site was created, called Survivor2299. The site eked out a series of cryptic messages, ciphers, clues and audio clips that inferred the imminent arrival of Fallout 4, and included a timer that appeared to be counting down to some sort of reveal.
Survivor2299 remained in operation for three weeks, stringing along Fallout and reddit communities. Just prior to the main countdown elapsing, Bethesda forced the site’s orchestrators to confess their mea culpa in propagating falsified information pertaining to Fallout 4. On Dec. 7, 2013, the site came clean, uploading a Rickroll-like YouTube clip of depressing instrumental music. Along with the clip was a message, stating “THAT’S ALL FOLKS.”
Bethesda immediately took flack from some members of the Fallout community for not denouncing the legitimacy of the site sooner, and many questioned why the company had waited as long as it had to dispel the subversive rumors. Adding to this, a number of gaming sites and news agencies, including Guardian Liberty Voice, sought contact with Bethesda to seek clarification on Survivor2299’s authenticity; no response was issued.
In response to public backlash, company officials responded with the following Twitter message:
PSA: If you don’t hear it through an official channel like this, assume all rumors and speculation are false.
— Bethesda Softworks (@Bethblog) December 6, 2013
Fallout fans have also recently petitioned Bethesda to confirm whether or not Fallout 4 is currently in development. From the date of writing, the petition’s creator, Silviu Ploisteanu, has acquired over 5,700 signatures; however, the goal of 100,000 signatures remains a distant target.
Meanwhile, Kotaku writer Jason Schreier claims to have validated the authenticity of a series of leaked casting documents. The documents comprised of an introduction to the game, an image of one of the characters and the script from a mission set in a Boston museum. It’s worth noting, however, Bethesda are yet to comment on the legitimacy of the documents; equally, information used for casting purposes are subject to change, and may bear no relation to the final game.
By James Fenner