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Seven ways to spot a gaming hoax

Faked Fallout 4 is the latest scam to win over players

Between super-forum "insiders" and disgruntled dev posts on Reddit, the news landscape is a bit of a minefield nowadays. If you're worried about falling victim to a carefully crafted online hoax, best read the below tips on how to spot a faker well in advance.

1. Beware "teaser websites"

Last year, an anonymous online troublemaker convinced the internet that a Fallout 4 announcement was imminent by creating fake promo website 'thesurvivor2299.com'. It incorporated a countdown to the VGX awards, Morse code, and Fallout-themed puzzles. The creator claimed it was intended to "force Bethesda into announcing the game." Because that's a hugely likely outcome. This follows fake registration of Shenmue 3, Fallout 4 and Half-Life 3 sites. All instances prompted uproar, which was obviously the hoaxers' intent.

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2. Beware any kind of technical advice

Bogus game announcements are annoying, but there are bigger risks out there: a falsified Microsoft guide to enabling backwards compatibility on Xbox One (which is impossible, for the record) caused many owners to brick their machines. After it was discovered that Xbox One owners could access the console's devkit, 4chan users claimed this could be used to activate backwards compatibility, when in fact, the instructions directed people into performing the very action most likely to lock their console for good. As hoaxes increase, you should be on your guard.

3. Don't read too much into "no comment"

Games companies say "no comment" to hoaxes because they don't want to set a trend; if they start explicitly denying the fakes then subsequent silence would inadvertently confirm genuine leaks. Retain a healthy scepticism at all times.

4. Watch out for developer in-jokes

The legend of Notch's dead brother Herobrine took on a life of its own after dozens of Minecraft players photoshopped in-game screenshots and even edited video clips of the Steve skin with bright white eyes said to wander through their game worlds.

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5. Fear the trademark registration

Trademark registrations have become a well-used means of sussing out upcoming games before announcement. Pranksters have cottoned on to this and are using the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market's relaxed submission process to create fakes.

6. Be alert for creative Photoshopping

Shortly after GTA V's release, somebody started posting shots of unannounced "North Yankton" DLC, which would apparently revisit the setting of the game's prologue. It turned out to be a fan screencap of the area, accessible thanks to a since-removed glitch in GTA Online.

7. Sometimes people make mistakes

When a translation error in Street Fighter II mistakenly alluded to a character named Sheng Long, players went to incredible lengths to try to unlock him. This only intensified after an April Fools article was taken seriously and fake unlock criteria circulated worldwide.

While we're wandering around in the realm of speculation, here are five rumoured Xbox One remakes that could actually happen.

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