Today's Xbox and X-Surface rumors were the product of a hoax.
With Microsoft remaining tight-lipped on the details of its upcoming console, the last few months have been filled with snippets of information from inside sources and leaked or rumored specs from those close to the project. Understandably, as E3 draws closer, the rumor mill is going to kick into high gear. This happens with all big product launches. As we get closer to an actual announcement, all kinds of information starts flying around. However, as one tricksy gamer proved Wednesday morning, anyone can make something up and call it a rumor.
The story begins with several sites posting information on Microsoft's upcoming Xbox hardware. Though it's commonly referred to as Xbox 720, someone claiming to work for Microsoft this morning told several sites that the new Xbox would simply be called 'Xbox.' This source also provided additional information, such as details on the previously rumored 7-inch gaming tablet (the source called it 'X-Surface'), and confirmed some of the Xbox 720 specifications we've heard over the past few months. This includes the 8-core CPU for the console itself, as well as the 800MHz GPU.
Unfortunately, as the day wore on, it emerged that this source within Microsoft was nothing of the sort. Posting to the Tumblr 'x-Surface.tumblr.com,' this person explained they had cooked up the hoax to highlight the lack of fact-checking going on in games journalism.
"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," the author writes. "It was posted with zero validation, no fact-checking, no source information. Just a simple email basically saying 'I work for Microsoft - believe me?'"
The poster goes on to show off screenshots of the email he sent out to Pocket-Lint (as well as others), list the websites that covered the news and claim games journalism is broken. On the flip side, sites like Pocket-Lint and iDigitalTimes are defending the position of the games journalist. Mo Mozuch from iDigitalTimes writes that it's not wrong or harmful to report on rumors. He also says that the people writing the news are also gamers but just happen to be lucky enough to get paid to keep track of all the news.
"Words like 'rumor' and 'alleged' and 'unconfirmed' aren't just CYA phrases. It's the truth. These rumors we find ARE unconfirmed, but that doesn't mean they're harmful or wrong," Mozuch writes, adding, "Pocketlint, the site that was first to be duped by the prankster, went out of its way to say the source was not confirmed by Microsoft and the information could be false."
For its part, Pocket-Lint highlights that it said the information was unverified in its original post and that it took a risk on posting the information.
"We did suspect that we could be taking a punt on the validity, as the paragraph above and in the original story shows, but decided to publish anyway because, like you, we like to read rumours and hearsay," Rik Henderson wrote. "Let us not forget that iPhone 6 rumors appeared the same day as the iPhone 5 was launched, but we still want to read them."
Interestingly, the anonymous tipster behind this hoax says he and most gamers are sick of hearing rumors and unverified information. What's your opinion on rumors? Do you like to read them or would you prefer they not appear in your news feed at all? Let us know in the comments below!