This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.
A short while ago, a strange little website appeared at the URL thesurvivor2299.com.
Its purpose was unclear, but the bloodhounds over on Reddit immediately started digging through its source code and resources, and began to conjecture that it might have something to do with a fourth (well, seventh if we're being picky; eighth if you count the tabletop game) Fallout game from Bethesda. After all, it seemed unlikely that the company would jump straight into another Elder Scrolls game while Skyrim is still popular -- and while The Elder Scrolls Online is imminent, too. Wouldn't it make sense for the company's next project to be a new Fallout game? And wouldn't it make sense for them to announce it at the newly rebranded VGX show, an event where Bethesda has traditionally announced new projects in the past?
The signs were looking good, but the Redditors researching the site threw up a few question marks. The site wasn't registered with the same service Bethesda typically used for its own websites, for starters, and it was making use of open-source scripts rather than bespoke code written specifically for the site. Also, there were some inconsistencies -- the morse code sound that played in the background in the site's early days pointed to a date in December of this year, but didn't match up with the date of the VGX show.
Still, people were confident -- or rather hopeful -- that the site had something to do with the hypothetical Fallout 4, and the site continued to update with new content on a regular basis. However, it abruptly changed to what you'll see if you navigate to the site today: a simple message proclaiming "That's All, Folks" accompanied by some sad piano music and an exhortation to not be mad at Bethesda.
The creator of the site, Reddit user "DCHoaxer," stepped forward to admit that the site was their work, and that it was nothing to do with Bethesda. They then opened themselves up to the Reddit community in an Ask Me Anything thread, during which some interesting truths came to light, among which was the revelation that DCHoaxer had spent $990 of their own money just to mess with the community; "That's nothing for me," they quipped. "I know I'm a douche."
"I wanted to force Bethesda to reveal something during VGX," the faker explained, "and bring [the Reddit] Fallout community together for at least 3 week. Unfortunately, this plan failed."
It seems that Bethesda's PR boss Pete Hines got in touch with the faker just before a full and completely fabricated CG trailer was released. "Maybe I'll release it later along with the script, so somebody else can use it," the faker explained. "I don't want to p**s off Bethesda at this time even more." Not to mention the rest of the community; the hoaxer explained they had received over a dozen death threats as a result of coming clean, but declined to discuss exactly what Bethesda said; participants in the Reddit thread conjectured that it was either a legal threat... or a job offer.
It will be interesting to see whether anything else comes of this elaborate joke; some game companies have been known to hire individuals on the strength of pet projects they spent their own time and money developing, and DCHoaxer's efforts were, for many, as effective -- if not more so -- than professionally managed marketing campaigns. Had The Survivor 2299 been a real teaser site, anticipation for Fallout 4 would be at an even higher level than it is right now, for sure.