The incoming war between the Sony PS5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X is set to be one of the most intense in the history of video games when each new console launches, which right now is slated for the winter 2020 holiday season.
As it is seen by some, though, that war is very much already taking place, with eagle-eyed gamers digging out what they believe is a "fear, uncertainty, and doubt disinformation strategy" that has supposedly been deployed "to influence the perception of the PS5 and show Xbox Series X is a better option" for gamers.
The whole thing started when comments from a chap called Jeff Rickel surfaced on Twitter (opens in new tab) via the Executive Editor of Windows Central. In those comments Rikel related how apparently he knew several people developing directly for Sony's PS5 console and that their "collective feeling is Sony screwed up this gen, they underestimated MS and were overconfident".
As a result of this, Rikel continued to note, gamers should expect "delays to the PS5 and heating problems", as right now the PlayStation 5 "hardware fails at an alarming rate".
Rikel then proceeded to expand on how the PS5 hardware was failing, relating that he had been told by these developers that the console "cannot maintain its clocks", the "m.2 gets hot quick" and "devs have no idea what to optimize for because Sony has no idea what the PS5 will deliver in consistent performance".
Rikel then signed off by telling gamers "you've been warned. Sony rested on its laurels and took for granted what was going on. Sony is just hoping the PS name can help them weather it for two years so they can get to a redesign".
All of which sounded pretty damning and, to some gamers, a little too damning. And that was when they first thought they'd got a hint that something might be amiss.
First Rikel was quickly shown to have a track record of anti-PS5 commentary by respected gaming journalist Jason Schreier, and then a suite of investigative features (opens in new tab) from gamers and the gaming press followed digging into his comments, how they were publicised and their legitimacy.
This then culminated in a respected Reddit poster (opens in new tab) noting how, "We all know that what Jeffrey Rickey and Windows Central claimed regarding PS5 having overheating issues, hard to develop and will be delayed was kind of a FUD."
FUD is the abbreviated term for "fear, uncertainty and doubt", which as the Reddit poster notes, "is a disinformation strategy used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics, cults, and propaganda." Why did Rikel relate the PS5 information? According to the the Reddit poster it was "to influence the perception of the PS5 and wanted to show that Xbox Series X is a better option."
Other Reddit posters seemed to agree with the take, too. User SixDaysDown commented that, "It feels like a concerted effort to spread FUD", while user elmagio stated that, "Every week there's a new unfounded rumor that takes down the PS5 making the rounds, and by the time it's disproved the next week the usual suspects have moved on to the new one."
Whether there is any truth in Rikel's comments remains to be seen, however, judging from the fact that Rikel appears to have no gaming industry authority, or any sort of track record in accurately calling future gaming hardware leaks, it's hard to see this supposed leak in a good light.
And, as keen gamers ourselves here at T3, we desperately want both the Xbox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 to be killer systems that deliver, right out of the box, top-class experiences for gamers, so any problems or delays to either system would come as a bitter blow.
Hopefully these comments have no grounding, though, and happy gamers the world over can look forward to opening a new PS5 or Xbox Series X console this winter holiday season.