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Fake leaks that seriously disappointed fans

We in the video game industry do things a little differently than those in TV or movies. When a movie is being made, or a TV show is in production, fans sometimes know months or even years in advance. It's tough to keep those projects under wraps — at least, the more minute details of those projects — so most simply don't bother.

Video games, however, are big on secrecy. For better or worse, the studios and publishers behind some of your favorite games don't want you hearing about them until they're good and ready. They want to control every aspect of the narrative surrounding their games, whether it's to gain a competitive advantage or to hold back for a grand reveal.

But journalists love to dig. And this, boys and girls, is how leaks occur. And why fake leaks are so prevalent when it comes to video games.

When real information isn't there, it creates an environment where someone can simply come along and make things up. We've all been burned by leaks like this in the past, and below, we've gathered some of the biggest heartbreaking fakes in modern memory.

These are the fake leaks that seriously disappointed fans.

The Nintendo 64 Classic

After the runaway success Nintendo achieved with both the NES Classic and Super NES Classic, fans were understandably looking forward to the next incarnation Nintendo had in store. Would it be a Game Boy Classic? Or would Nintendo finally deliver a Nintendo 64 Classic instead?

A leak in October 2018 signaled the latter. And those who grew up playing the Nintendo 64 were incredibly excited.

Can you imagine huddling around a Nintendo 64 like you did in the good old days, playing friends and family in Mario Kart 64? Or diving back in for some Star Fox 64, paying homage to a series that hasn't been properly loved in years? Minds raced at the possibilities — that is, until the entire thing came crashing down.

The Nintendo 64 Classic was outed as a leak, despite a very convincing image of the device. And Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime drove the dagger even deeper when he announced that Nintendo wasn't just skipping out on the Nintendo 64 Classic for the time being: the company was done producing the Classic line of mini-systems altogether.

We hope that Nintendo changes its mind. Until then, we'll all be forced to wipe the dust off of our original Nintendo 64 consoles, or just play Nintendo 64 games on the Virtual Console that, inexplicably, Nintendo won't be bringing to the Switch.

The Smash Bros. Ultimate "Grinch" leak

Fans of the Super Smash Bros. series get (quite understandably) pumped about new character reveals. You see, characters in Smash aren't just tossed in haphazardly. Nintendo crafts entire stages for the new fighters. It creates new remixes of songs that appear in that character's games. And the new fighter's move set screams the phrase "attention to detail."

And speaking of detail, a Smash Bros. leak that popped up in late 2018 had a lot of it. The leaker had a believable story, and there was enough evidence online to give the leaker credibility. But the leak is on this list, so you know where things are headed. It was all fake.

The leak received the name "Grinch leak" due to a Grinch graphic that appeared next a the faked Smash Bros. banner that supposedly revealed new fighters. The leaker behind it claimed the photo was taken at the offices of a promotional graphics company, and that same leaker went so far as to create LinkedIn profiles to make the entire thing seem legitimate. And the fighters themselves were entirely believable, too. Shadow the Hedgehog was one, for example. Ken from Street Fighter was another. All in all, the leak claimed eight new characters were coming.

Nintendo's final Smash Direct killed the leak dead. It did manage to get Ken right, to its credit, but only one other fighter joined the roster: Incineroar from Pokemon.

Death Stranding's release date

There's a fact we have to put on the table before we go on. It has to do with Walmart — more specifically, Walmart Canada. For some strange reason, this particular Walmart chain has a bad habit of leaking video games and release dates. It happens enough that Walmart Canada has developed a bit of a reputation in the video game world for doing so, and they're usually accurate enough that, when a Walmart Canada leak occurs, people sit up and pay attention.

In this instance, though, Walmart Canada was way off base.

The leak had to do with the release date of Death Stranding, a highly anticipated PlayStation 4 exclusive being developed by Hideo Kojima and his team at Kojima Productions. Walmart Canada, for reasons we'll never understand, decided to throw Death Stranding up in its online store as a pre-order. And in a move that sent PlayStation owners into a straight-up tizzy, Walmart Canada set June 30, 2019 as the release date. The store didn't help its cause when someone tweeted at it asking for clarification.

"As per the information stated for this item, this is a pre-order that will ship in June," Walmart Canada's Twitter account replied.

That was, as we now know, wrong. After the news blew up online, Walmart Canada was forced to walk back the proclamation and fix the inaccuracy. As of press time, Death Stranding still doesn't have a release date.

The Splinter Cell that never came

It may not shock you, knowing what you know now, but the Death Stranding fiasco was not Walmart Canada's first screw-up. In fact, it wasn't even Walmart Canada's first screw-up of the year 2018. That one came in May, nearly a month before one of the video game industry's largest events: E3. Walmart Canada listed a smorgasbord of unannounced games in its store, beating official reveals to the punch and leaving everyone scrambling to determine what was real and what wasn't.

To Walmart Canada's credit, a bunch of the games did end up getting announced. Rage 2, for instance, was one. Gears 5 was another. But Walmart Canada listed Splinter Cell game, as well. And that was just flat-out wrong.

Fans of Sam Fisher have been dying for a new Splinter Cell game, and Ubisoft greased the wheels so to speak by including Fisher in some downloadable content for another one of its games, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The Walmart Canada leak seemed like the next logical step after that DLC: get Splinter Cell on everyone's radars again, and then announce a brand new title. But that wasn't the case, and it has yet to be. Splinter Cell fans are still hoping for a new entry, and seeing as Ubisoft has plenty of other titles lined up for 2019 and beyond, a new game in the franchise is looking less and less likely.

The leaked PlayStation 5 concept

Can you believe that both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have been out for over five years already? Both consoles feel like they're just now hitting their strides, releasing some of the best games of the generation in the past year or two. But time marches on, and we know that both Sony and Microsoft are hard at work on the next iterations of the Xbox and PlayStation platforms.

And just for a second in late 2018, it seemed as though Sony was a lot closer to releasing a system than anyone thought.

A leak of hardware specs showed up for Sony's next system, which called the console (unsurprisingly) the PlayStation 5. And those leaks were followed up by a supposedly leaked image of the console itself, complete with a PS5 logo and — wait, what is that other text? What is LetsGoDigital?

To be honest, we're not quite sure how a bunch of people fell for the leaked console image. But they did, even though it took a simple bit of Googling to debunk it as an artist's rendering of the hardware spec leaks that had come before it. The image you see above is not the next PlayStation, and chances are, we won't see that console until Sony intends us to — which is probably in 2020 or beyond.

Destiny 2's Gods of Mars expansion

After a very sluggish start and the ultra-disappointing Curse of Osiris expansion, Destiny 2's Warmind expansion actually helped set the game back on the right track. Even then, Warmind was shallow on the story front and was lacking in the big moments department. But did you know that a leak originally described Destiny 2's second DLC as a far cooler experience? That's a thing that happened, and at the time, it seemed believable.

One day in early January 2018, a Reddit user posted an image that appeared to be captured from a PlayStation Store description for Destiny 2's second expansion. It called the DLC Gods of Mars, and the text within the description spoke in detail of a campaign that pitted Guardians against the warmind Rasputin, who was hell bent on destroying the Traveler (the being that gives Guardians their power). It sounded epic. But it was fake.

Interestingly enough, the faked store description managed to get some a few things right. The Warmind expansion did take place on Mars, and it did include interactions with Rasputin. But the big bad in that expansion wound up being an incredibly weak Hive worm god, and Rasputin instead became an ally.

If you ask Destiny 2 players, they'd probably take the fake story from Gods of Mars in a heartbeat.

The supposed Nintendo Direct leak

We spoke earlier about Star Fox being a Nintendo franchise that hasn't received a lot of love lately, but to tell the truth, Nintendo has a bunch of dormant properties. That's what made a supposed leak of the company's E3 2018 schedule so exciting. It made it appear as though Nintendo would finally revisit the F-Zero and Punch-Out! franchises and bring them into the fold on the Nintendo Switch.

The timing would've certainly been right. The Nintendo Switch was on a roll. F-Zero hadn't been seen since the Game Boy Advance. And Punch-Out's last outing occurred on the Nintendo Wii. Why not bring them back and keep the Switch train chugging?

The leak, as you've probably guessed, was a fake. It managed to mix enough feasible announcements in with the fakes to make the schedule appear legitimate. But at the end of E3, F-Zero and Punch-Out! were nowhere to be found. We're still hoping that Nintendo decides to revive these long-sleeping franchises somewhere down the line, but until then, the closest you're likely to get to either is if Nintendo brings back the original Punch-Out! on the Switch's NES app.

Faked Borderlands 3 art

It's been years since the world was blessed with Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. But here's a funny and true fact about that next Borderlands game, which everyone assumes is called Borderlands 3: we don't actually know what it is. That's what made this next leak, dropped in March 2018, so intriguing. It didn't just confirm the name — it confirmed the game.

And it was a total sham.

Reddit seems to be a pretty reliable repository for fake leaks, and the one for Borderlands 3 was no different. Someone posted a doctored image of a Borderlands 3 logo — made just blurry enough to seem like they captured it from a screen they weren't meant to see — and everyone gobbled it up. But other Reddit users quickly realized that the figure in the leaked image was actually art from Dark Souls 2, and as quickly as the leak garnered attention from Borderlands fans, it was quickly laid to rest.

We don't know for certain that the next Borderlands is Borderlands 3. We do know, though, that the people who create these leaks have a little too much time on their hands.

Telltale's James Bond game

It's been a long, long time since gamers have been treated to a well-made James Bond game. So naturally, when it leaked that Telltale Games would be taking up the mantle, people were rightly excited. Telltale had a history of doing right by the many properties it touched, whether it was working on Walking Dead games, exploring Pandora in Tales from the Borderlands, or creating narratives around Microsoft's popular Minecraft series.

A James Bond game made by Telltale could've painted 007 in the best light he's seen since, arguably, GoldenEye 007. Unfortunately, it was never meant to be.

We know now, with the gift of hindsight, that a James Bond game was never in the cards. Telltale had plans to work on some sequels to its more popular franchises, and it was actually a few episodes into its last Walking Dead season when the studio unceremoniously shut down. We still hope that someone, anyone, can do something fantastic with the James Bond license again in the future. But that someone wasn't Telltale Games before, and now that the studio has shuttered for good, it never will be.

Halo: Gravemind

Most video game companies are silent about leaks that pop up online, giving those who inquire the usual line of, "We don't comment on rumors or speculation." So it's pretty uncommon when a studio, or someone from a studio, takes to the bullhorn to outright refute a leak immediately after it drops. But that doesn't mean it never occurs. We submit to you Frank O'Connor of 343 Industries: a man who is anything but common.

When Twitter user @BotBomBorello posted photos of promotional materials for a game called Halo: Gravemind, said Twitter user looked credible. The art didn't seem out of place for Halo, the user said he'd been hooked up with the materials by a friend who worked at GAME (a video game store in the UK), and he published them online just days before E3 2018.

Frank O'Connor, however, wasn't having it.

The famed Halo franchise director took to Twitter, immediately replying to @BotBomBorello to call the leak "FAKE NEWS!" Of course, the news of a new Halo game wasn't fake. We'd learn just a few days later that Microsoft is plugging away at a brand new game called Halo Infinite. But it seems the Gravemind name — and the game's focus on the graveminds of the Flood — were simply made up.

Rocksteady's Superman game

After Batman: Arkham AsylumBatman: Arkham City, and Batman: Arkham Knight, it's safe to say that Rocksteady Studios is a pretty amazing developer. In fact, you could understand why gamers would be excited about anything that Rocksteady works on, much less another superhero title. But here's the thing: Rocksteady did such a bang-up job with the Batman license that fans are licking their chops thinking about the other superheroes Rocksteady could bring to life. So when it leaked that Rocksteady might be working on a Superman game, people were right to be hyped.

We hate to burst your bubble, but Rocksteady isn't working on a Superman game. The source? Rocksteady itself.

"Looking forward to #TheGameAwards this year!" Rocksteady tweeted in late November 2018. "We're still at work in our development bunker so don't expect an announcement from @Rocksteadygames. When it's ready to show, you'll be the first to know. Spoiler: it's not Superman."

So there you have it. As cool as it would be to see Rocksteady's take on Superman, Rocksteady won't be the studio to do it. Fake leak confirmed.

Bethesda's Game of Thrones game

Back in August 2017, the internet caught fire when it leaked that Bethesda might be making a game based on the Game of Thrones license. And why wouldn't that be great to hear? Bethesda has a long lineage of developing huge, open-world RPGs that critics love. If you can imagine something like Skyrim, but built to recreate the Game of Thrones experience, then you can see why gamers would be ready to throw money at Bethesda to play that title. At least, they would have.

Wow, how times have changed.

The Bethesda Game of Thrones leak, which originated from Target, was debunked by the retailer itself. So the game definitely isn't happening. But we're now living in a world post-Fallout 76. It's at least an interesting thought exercise to wonder if fans would still be as open to seeing Bethesda make a Game of Thrones title today, now that the studio has roundly trashed its reputation with its latest Fallout game.

Whatever the case, we're still waiting for that awesome Game of Thrones RPG. It won't be made by Bethesda. But maybe that's for the best.