I am a gamer. I don’t work for Microsoft.
I, like most other gamers, am sick of seeing endless rumours and speculation citing “anonymous sources” or “insiders” with no evidence, no proof, no guarantee that they’ve been fact-checked or can be relied on.
The games industry is the only one I can think of that will quite happily publish guesswork as news. So-called ‘analysts’ are no different - they make money by guessing. They’re about as much use as a ‘source’ as I am.
So let’s see how easy it is to be a ‘source’.
At 1:41am GMT today I sent out an email to a bunch of gaming sites claiming to be a Microsoft employee working on the new Xbox.
I made up every single word of it along with a couple of specs copied from other rumours that have been appearing on the Internet.
This was a bit of an experiment to see just how easy it is to get a fake story taken seriously. And it is shockingly easy in the games industry.
The outbox of my anonymous email account:
The full email:
By 9:58am GMT, it was already ‘in the news’.
Pocket-Lint.com were the first to run with the news, almost exactly one hour after saying “we have to make an effort to validate”; two hours before I got the chance to reply. It was posted with zero validation, no fact-checking, no source information. Just a simple email basically saying “I work for Microsoft - believe me?”.
I feel bad for lying, but it proves the point very well.
The spread begins.
And this is where we come to the most important part: it’s not just that it was easy to get a site to publish the non-news… it’s also the fact that every other site will then leech the information. As if linking to the original site absolves them of the need to check up on the sources.
Not to mention the Chinese whisper effect. I have listed below many different links to sites that took this news from Pocket-Lint.com: have a read through each one and play spot the difference. There is always at least one bit of information that was changed, mistranslated (even on English sites) or not mentioned at all.
This is no way to run a ‘news’ website. How would people react if they found out the BBC got all their news third-hand from a copied article that had been changed twice along the way? It is not reliable. No other industry works like this. Why do we accept it on gaming sites?
At the time of writing, my fake news is appearing on major sites such as:
And many more. This Google search shows the global reach this non-news has been getting over the past 6 hours (at the time of writing).
This is not journalism.
Many games ‘journalists’ have no right calling themselves such things. The vast majority do nothing but copy & paste from other sites, and will willingly publish information without fact checking a single thing or attempting to verify the source.
It’s all about being first. To get such news out (whether you believe it or not) before any other publication does, will guarantee you page impressions, and that all-important advertising revenue. Gaming ‘journalism’ is completely broken.
By tagging a post with ‘rumour’, most writers/editors believe they can get away with spreading false information for their own benefits. They are the only ones to gain from such practices, whilst the gaming fans end up with speculation and, sometimes, outright lies.
TL;DR - Until Microsoft/Sony announce something: don’t believe even the most reputable gaming sites.
Just a small update: I would like to add that although everyone I emailed had a professional manner about them (even after finding out that it was fake), there is one person who, even upon receiving the original “rumour” email, was completely unprofessional, childish, insulting and downright ugly in his comments.
Whether he believed the story or not, his angry and egotistical response was absolutely shocking. That person is Rob Crossley, the associate editor for CVG - and he has shown himself to be the most repugnant person I’ve ever known in the gaming world.
I would hope he doesn’t speak to every tipster like that - he accused me of being 18 years old with no job, right off the bat (oh how wrong he was).
I didn’t want to call anybody out by name, but as I have received multiple insulting emails since the truth came out, I felt I should do so with him.