You may have seen the news on your Facebook feed, or on the front page of Reddit's popular r/games subreddit: Obsidian is making Fallout New Vegas 2! This would all be well and good, except for the fact that they're not.
For the past 24 hours, a rumour has buzzed that Obsidian is developing a sequel to their popular post-apocalyptic game. The news has reached thousands of people thanks to forums and social media. It's also fake.
As Obsidian PR manager Mikey Dowling told me in an email this morning: "We've said plenty of times that we'd love to work on a Fallout again if Bethesda wanted us to, we just aren't at this time. Right now we're very focused on the Fig campaign to make our first ever sequel in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. Whenever a new Fallout comes around though, whoever is doing it, we all look forward to playing it!"
So where did this New Vegas 2 rumour come from? How did it get so popular? And why do we keep seeing so many fake stories about highly anticipated sequels to big games?
The answer to all of those questions is Fraghero, a website that appears to exist solely to game the algorithms of websites like Google and Facebook. It was a Fraghero article, citing an anonymous source, that reported on the existence of Fallout: New Vegas 2. "Rumors of Fallout: New Orleans set the internet abuzz last year," Fraghero wrote, "but our source tells us, it will actually be New Vegas 2."
Gamers have been begging for a Fallout: New Vegas 2 sequel for seven years. It looks like their desperate cries have been heard.
Here's what we know: (according to source)
— Upcoming reveal is planned, possibly for E3.
— Obsidian is involved.
Of course, none of this is true. Fraghero's writers have a tendency to edit their articles after publication without notice, but an earlier version of this article also pointed to an Obsidian teaser tweet as evidence that New Vegas 2 was on the way. That teaser tweet, of course, was actually for Pillars of Eternity 2.
The Fraghero article, which has no byline, claims to have used the same anonymous source to break the announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2. They do, in fact, have an article predicting that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be announced. Check it out:
Seems like they nailed it, no? As it turns out, the people behind Fraghero actually edited the text of their article to remove all of the things they got wrong. Here's what that same article looked like in March of 2016:
Elsewhere on Fraghero, a different article suggests:
As you can see, even Fraghero can't decide what title Red Dead Redemption 2 is going to have. (Turns out it's just called Red Dead Redemption 2.) A glance through their website reveals all sorts of fake news like this, including some stories we've highlighted before, like "GTA 6 cancelled". The phrase "fake news" has become an irritating, overused meme in politics these days, but here's one case where it's an accurate descriptor.
OK, let's zoom out for a second. You're probably wondering: Why care so much about this Fraghero website? They're not a major professional gaming outlet with millions of readers like IGN or Kotaku. Why even bother paying attention to this site?
Well, Fraghero has more than 300,000 followers on Facebook. Somehow, despite the fact that this website appears to consistently publish misinformation, they have cultivated enough of an audience to be able to drive buzz all across the internet with false stories about games like Fallout: New Vegas 2. This one article has hundreds of Facebook shares:
Maybe that's how it got to the front page of r/games and turned into a serious irritant for the poor folks at Obsidian. Despite the fact that most people have never heard of Fraghero, this website is reaching — and misinforming — lots of people.
It's almost satirical.
As always, we'll keep doing our best to A) get you accurate information, B) eat shit when we screw up, and C) debunk false rumours whenever we see them spreading. In the meantime, you may wanna stay away from Fraghero.