I want to talk about an issue I’m seeing cropping up all over outlets in the industry, especially with few large stories about. Video game rumours are out of control. They’re something we’re all familiar with, they get debunked and proved all the time. Although right now it seems they’re more readily being treated as fact instead of given their due diligence.
Video game rumours aren’t a bad thing though… most of the time. They can spur on interesting discussion and even notify publishers that fans want a certain product. They get people talking, and we all love a good gossip about something interesting. The problem comes in how most major journalist outlets and their readers (this includes us) are treating a lot of these rumours as fact.
This isn’t good.
Video Game Rumours Being Treated As Fact
There’s one recent example that really exemplifies how we’ve all been treating unsubstantiated words as fact.
Mario’s 35th anniversary is right around the corner, and recently a rumour circulated about how we might be seeing a collection of 3D Mario Remasters to celebrate this. I recently reported on that rumour – and like everyone else, I treated it as though it was a certainty. This is how video game rumours are being seen at the moment. As certain fact.
My title reads ‘3D Mario Remasters Coming to Switch’, and whilst I don’t treat it as fact in the article, I don’t exactly fully lay it out as conjecture either. That’s my fault, for the sake of views I presented it in a way to get more clicks. Although it’s not just me. The original source of this rumour, Video Games Chronicle, talked about it like this.
All we know is that ‘sources’ told VGC that this remaster collection will be coming. They go on to say:
The reveal for SUPER NINTENDO WORLD JAPAN has already been and gone.
In this trailer we weren’t exactly beset with what VGC call ‘new details’. Although a lot of them can be found on Universal Studios Japan’s website. It says to ‘stay tuned for more’. So more details will likely emerge this year, but what I’m trying to say is this: VGC said that ‘sources’ told them about the remasters, and that we’d get details along with info on SUPER NINTENDO WORLD JAPAN. We didn’t.
I’m not denying that plans can change, but what I am saying is that VGC, and the rest (including myself) just instantly jumped on this story. As we do with most others. That would be fine too, it’s info from ‘sources’ and sounds interesting, so why not report on it? But it was presented as a fact, a certainty, when as of right now it still isn’t.
Just because a source of yours tells you something doesn’t mean it’s 100% going to happen.
If it’s Not Confirmed, Don’t Treat it Like it is
As mentioned, video game rumours on their own aren’t bad, they promote great discussion. But that doesn’t mean we should treat rumours like they’re fact, it’s misleading, untrustworthy and alienating. And again, I did it for this story, and can only apologise.
The problem was almost industry wide. Everyone was writing titles alluding to the fact that this was 100% real, and confirmed by Nintendo. Look at this Venture Beat article, or this one by Polygon. Now I know, if all of this is actually true and we get a Direct that shows it all off then I’ll look like a fool. But, that’s not what this is about. It doesn’t actually matter if this rumour, or any others, are true. It’s about not treating them as such until you have actual proof.
Nintendo representative spokespeople even told sites like VentureBeat “We have nothing to announce on that topic”. Yes they could be lying to hide the surprise. But if its true it is already out there, and if Nintendo themselves say it isn’t true, why did we all assume otherwise?
We all sat there and just said that a 3D Mario Remaster collection was coming. Along with a port of Super Mario 3D World and a new Paper Mario that harkens back to the originals.
But when do Nintendo actually do what we expect them to? Just recently they dropped a surprise Direct mini when fans had been waiting over 6 months for a proper one. It came with very few major announcements.
The Mario Rumour Doesn’t Make Sense
What I’m saying is, the 3D Mario rumour lost even more believability when it was joined by the idea that ‘fans would be getting exactly what they wanted from Nintendo‘. It’s all wishful thinking, and I think that’s where we go wrong. There’s a huge difference between wanting something, and it actually being true. Just because you want it so badly doesn’t mean publishers and developers will always do it.
Nintendo are also the kings of secrecy, and if this got out and was actually real I’m certain they’d say something. But they didn’t.
We don’t even know who these corroborating sources are, that’s of course because they don’t want to get found out. But it also means the whole thing loses believability.
Getting Our Hopes Up
Let’s look at a more recent example to flesh this out. Remember how we got Cities: Skylines and Farming Simulator 19 on PS Plus this month? Well there was a rumour/leak that it was going to be Dark Souls Remastered and Dying Light instead. Safe to say that was wrong. This time when we reported on this rumour we made it very clear, there was no actual proof. A ResetEra user uploaded the below image, but that was it.
In both theu title and the article itself, we say that this is a rumour. Yes it looks real, but the situation of it being low quality and just dropped on ResetEra means that there’s nothing pointing to it being real.
Before you say it, yes I know outlets citing ‘sources’ and a leaked image are two completely different things. One has more of a reputation than the other. But that’s not the point. The point is that one of them was directly outed as false in a very quick time frame, and most of us were skeptical because of how good a deal it was. But for the other we all seemed to believe it despite Nintendo saying it was wrong. We believed ‘sources’ over the actual developers.
If you just get an image, or are told “sources told us this”, you should definitely take it with a grain of salt. If it isn’t official, in whatever capacity that might be, it needs to be presented as such.
Corroboration From Reputable Sources
Here we come to the most obvious part, how we can be 100% sure that something doing the rounds on the internet is real? Well when a reputable source, one directly linked to said rumour, can corroborate it.
This is why the Naughty Dog leaks carry so much weight. At first the details of The Last of Us Part II doing the rounds were standard video game rumours. Whilst most wouldn’t want to look at them, the only thing supporting them was how substantial they were. It was only when Naughty Dog issued a statement saying they were real that people got worried.
Although substance doesn’t always correlate to tangibility. Take the recent Spider-Man 2 leak on Reddit for example.
Many sites such as GameByte presented their article titles as fact. Although to their credit, and most others, they told you to take it with a pinch of salt. It was a few days later, that the reddit leak (which you can find here) was outed as fake. With the leaker themselves saying it was all a bit of fun, and just what they hoped to see from the game.
PushSquare wrote a great article about how the media was fooled by this leak, hell it even took the leaker themselves saying it was false for that news to get out there. These types of Reddit and forum leaks shouldn’t be trusted because there is no reputation to black them up, and just because a news site says they have ‘sources’ doesn’t mean you should always believe them either.
What you need is proof. Recently Naughty Dog provided that proof when The Last of Us Part II leaked.
What Can Be Done about Video Game Rumours?
Don’t lend credence to these rumours, that’s the long and short of it. It’s a point me and my colleague Callum made in a different article. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If the article doesn’t give concrete proof but presents it as such, be wary.
It’s about being vigilant. Read the articles and not just the headlines, but the headlines also shouldn’t be misleading in the first place. Sadly though, because both of those things are rarely done, we’ve created a culture of fake rumours and leaks that are given legitimacy by major outlets. None of that is to say that what’s always said is false, after all that 3D Mario Remaster collection might actually be real, but the set dressing around it points to otherwise.
We can’t get rid of them, that should go without saying. We all enjoy them! Hearing something interesting might be happening makes for good reading. But what needs to change is how rumours are presented and consumed. It takes journalists treating these rumours as they should be, for them to be seen as they are.
Oh, and don’t always believe insiders. Find who’s been right, those are the people you can trust, but just be careful.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @thecognetwork and I’m @WillNelson1998. You can also check out the most recent news here. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and as always thanks for reading COG!