Campaign timeline of the Year Zero alternate reality game
The following is a campaign timeline of the Year Zero alternate reality game. The Year Zero alternate reality game, and its accompanying concept album of the same name, criticizes the United States government's policies as of 2007, projecting a dystopian vision of its impact on the state of events in 2022. The game began in mid-February 2007 and seems to have wrapped up in April shortly after the album came out.
- February 12, 2007
- Fans found that a new Nine Inch Nails tour T-shirt contained highlighted letters that spell out the words "I am trying to believe." It was discovered that iamtryingtobelieve.com was registered as a website, and soon several related websites were found in the IP range (Another Version of the Truth, Be the Hammer, 105th Airborne Crusaders, and Church of Plano), all describing a dystopian vision of the world fifteen years in the future.
- Consolidated Mail Systems found through reference on the Another Version of the Truth forums.
- February 14, 2007
- During Nine Inch Nails' first ever concert in Lisbon, Portugal, a USB flash drive was found in a bathroom stall containing a high-quality MP3 of the track "My Violent Heart," which quickly circulated the internet. This was initially thought by many to be an accidental leak of the song, but further releases in a similar fashion confirmed these to be intentional "leaks" and as part of the overall alternate reality game. On the end of the MP3 was a few seconds of static, which, when analyzed under a spectrogram reveals an image of "The Presence." The same static is on the album at the end of Track #9, "The Warning."
- February 19, 2007
- A USB drive was found at a concert in Barcelona, Spain, containing two audio files: the track "Me, I'm Not" and an MP3 of static. The mp3 of static, "2432.mp3," when analyzed through a spectrogram revealed the phone number 1-216-333-1810, which in turn revealed http://www.uswiretap.com/case_number_required/.
- February 22, 2007
- A teaser trailer was released through the Year Zero website and featured a quick glimpse of a blue road sign that says "I AM TRYING TO BELIEVE" and a distorted glimpse of The Presence. Additionally, one frame in the teaser points to the url http://yearzero.nin.com/0024, which presented an image named "yearzero_cover.jpg", which was later confirmed to be the album cover.
- February 25, 2007
- February 26 and 27, 2007
- March 7, 2007
- The music video for the first single from Year Zero, "Survivalism," was released via USB pen drives at a concert in Carling Academy Brixton in London, England. These drives contained low and high resolution versions of the video, which were quickly dispersed onto the internet and eventually officially on the Year-Zero mini-site. The numerous displays within the music video all display time code, which fans discovered contained letters leading to http://www.thewaterturnedtoblood.net. The video also led to the discovery of http://www.judsonogram.net, which in turn makes a mention to Cedocore, leading to http://www.cedocore.com.
- March 11, 2007
- Fliers were handed out at a Nine Inch Nails show in London, which had directions to a local bridge, which underneath housed a billboard with the words "Operation Swamp 0000," pointing to the website http://www.operationswamp0000.net, which in turn directs users to http://www.operationchipsweep.net.
- During a listening party, lithographs were handed out to people who had pre-ordered the album. These lithographs had the words "The Mailstrom" written across them, leading fans to http://www.themailstrom.com.
- Cryptic e-mails were randomly sent to many Nine Inch Nails fans, revealing http://www.thepriceoftreason.net and http://www.opensourceresistance.net.
- March 13, 2007
- April 4, 2007
- Year Zero album is made available for streaming play on the official Year Zero mini-site.
- A computerized voice on Track #13, "The Great Destroyer," when the left and right stereo channels are combined into a single mono signal, vocalizes the words "red horse vector," leading to http://www.redhorsevector.net/.
- Morse code in Track #14, "Another Version of the Truth," is discovered to spell out "grace the teacher," pointing towards http://www.gracetheteacher.net.
- April 10, 2007
- April 13, 2007
- Art is Resistance "meeting" scheduled in Los Angeles, California, posted on Open Source Resistance. Participants are asked to "Wear something that shows you’re one of us." Art is Resistance kits are handed out to those attending, consisting of Art is Resistance buttons, posters, stencils, bandannas, and in around 25 cases, pre-paid cell phones on which participants would receive in-game phone calls and become a part of the game.
- April 13, 14, 16, 17, and 25, 2007
- The Year Zero album is released in Europe, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan respectively. The album is released in digipak packaging, which contains a sticker advertising 1-866-445-6580, a thermochrome CD face which, when heated, reveals a binary sequence which leads to http://exterminal.net/, as well as various other clues leading to http://www.freerebelart.net/, http://www.viabilityindex.com/, and this Wreckage/Shard combination for The Mailstrom.
- April 18, 2007
- Resistance "meeting" scheduled in Los Angeles. Participants are invited via cell phones given to them in Art is Resistance kits on April 13. The meeting consists of a speech by a "resistance member" and a free concert by Nine Inch Nails. The concert is cut short as the meeting is "raided" by a SWAT team. Unedited video of the entire meeting is posted on Open Source Resistance the same night, and an edited version two nights later. 
- April 26, 2007
- April 27, 2007
- Art is Resistance "members" receive automated phone calls on cell phones given to them in Art is Resistance kits on April 13 in Los Angeles. The pre-recorded message contains a clue leading to Hour of Arrival. The message marks the end of the alternate reality game, stating "we’ve got to go dark for a while, but that is ok - you don’t need us anymore."
- Gregory, Jason (2007-03-26). "Trent Reznor Blasts the American Government". Gigwise.com. Retrieved 2007-04-20.
- Gunderson, Edna (2007-04-18). "Nine Inch Nails 'Zero' in on bleak future". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "New tour t-shirts". The NIN Hotline. 2007-02-12. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- James Montgomery (2007-02-15). "Weird Web Trail: Conspiracy Theory — Or Marketing For Nine Inch Nails LP?". MTV News. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- "My Violent Heart leaks, Year Zero discussion forum". The NIN Hotline. 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "RIAA Goes After NINE INCH NAILS Fans Over Deliberate Leak Campaign". Blabbermouth.net. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2007-04-04.
- "Me, I'm Not found on flash drive in Barcelona". The NIN Hotline. 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Reuters (2007-04-02). "Cryptic Web sites build buzz for Nine Inch Nails". CNN. Archived from the original on 2007-04-08. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
- "Year Zero preview and possible album cover". The NIN Hotline. 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- ""Year Zero" Project Update: Reznor Pisses on Scorsese’s Parade". Rolling Stone. 2007-02-26. Retrieved 2007-04-18.
- "The contents of tonight's USB key...". The NIN Hotline. 2007-02-25. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Kreps, Daniel (2007-02-28). "Year Zero Project: Fahrenheit NIN". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-04-18.
- "Survivalism video found on USB drives". The NIN Hotline. 2007-03-07. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Weedmark, Bill (2007-04-09). "Marketing Music". Gargoyle, Flagler College. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
- "NINE INCH NAILS : YEAR ZERO". NIN.com. Archived from the original on 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2007-04-07.
- "Limited Edition Lithograph with Year Zero". The NIN Hotline. 2007-03-03. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "NIN fans receive cryptic email". The NIN Hotline. 2007-03-27. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Survivalism released in Garageband format". The NIN Hotline. 2007-03-13. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "I got Survivalism lyrics.". The NIN Hotline. 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Nine Inch Nails: Entire 'Year Zero' Album Available For Streaming". Blabbermouth.net. 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2007-04-08.
- "NIN Myspace Now Features 'Year Zero'". The NIN Hotline. 2007-04-10. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "ARG Updates: AIR Goes Live in LA". The NIN Hotline. 2007-04-14. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Montgomery, James; Todd Brown (2007-04-16). "Nine Inch Nails' Year Almost Here, But Real-World Game Continues". MTV News. Retrieved 2007-04-16.
- "nine inch nails: current". NIN.com. 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
- "Japanese Year Zero is delayed". The NIN Hotline. 2007-03-29. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Gunderson, Edna (2007-04-18). "Reznor nails big 'Zero' on the future". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "New Year Zero cover art posted". The NIN Hotline. 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Year Zero Released Today". The NIN Hotline. 2007-04-17. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Secret NIN Show in LA Raided By Police". The NIN Hotline. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Multitracks for 3 YZ songs posted on nin.com". The NIN Hotline. 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Year Zero Case Study". 42 Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- Frank Rose (2007-12-20). "Secret Websites, Coded Messages: The New World of Immersive Games". Wired. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- Official Year Zero page at NIN.com
- Year Zero Research at the unofficial NIN Wiki
- echoingthesound – discussion forum regarding the ARG