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Update: Bethesda has confirmed over Twitter that the trademark application was fake:
Original article: The long string of Fallout 4 rumors just got a little longer today. Bethesda has reportedly filed a trademark for an official title for the game.
The trademark registration, filed in Germany (via XboxAchievements), is for Fallout: Shadow of Boston. The title applies to "Computer game discs", "Downloadable computer game programs, "Computer games programmes downloaded via the internet," and...uh, "Auditioning for tv game shows."
If you're intent on believing this trademark, you'll note that it lines up with previous rumors. Leaked casting documents previously confirmed the Boston setting. Also, the nearly-identical title Fallout: Shadows of Boston (note the pluralization) popped up on IMDB in February.
The first problem with this kind of thinking is that the IMDB listing for Shadows was probably bullshit. For starters, the cast list mentioned Ron Perlman, who's already said he's not coming back for another Fallout game. You don't even need to dive that deep to realize the listing was fake, though. Just the fact that anyone can make a free account on IMDB and build whatever listings they want ought to make you instantly suspicious. The fact that the listing's been removed since it was first published ought to be another indication that it's not genuine.
"But the title says Boston! That's the same setting that casting documents mentioned!" Well, here's the thing: that initial report about Boston came out nearly a year ago. That means that anyone who fabricates a rumor about Fallout 4 knows that everyone believes the game is set in that city. Their hoax is going to make at least a passing mention to Boston to make it seem more believable.
Unfortunately, Fallout 4 rumors have become a popular way to troll gamers. Last year droves of fans were misled by an alleged teaser site called TheSurvivor2299.com. A month later, a fake email about an announcement was sent to the press.
Trolls know that gamers really want Fallout 4. They know that this desire for announcement will lead some to believe details released through unofficial or strange channels. When you want something to be true, you're more likely to accept evidence that proves that conclusion. That desire is the cement holding together some really weak evidence.
I'm among the many Fallout fans hoping for an announcement at Spike VGX next month. All the hoaxes over the past few years have taught me to lower my expectations to the floor, though. Bethesda will reveal the game when they're good and ready but there's little incentive to jump at every small sign of an announcement.
Will Fallout 4 be announced at Spike VGX?