Article: Hype, promises and regret: No Man's Sky's disastrous launch
When questioned about an anticipated project being pushed back legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto once said “a delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever.” His words would end up being prophetic for a number of different games that didn’t deliver on their promises but those words were never as true as they were for one game; No Man’s Sky. Saying that No Man’s Sky under delivered is a huge understatement and one that Hello Games may never fully return from. It’s one that’s resulted in false advertisement investigations and most importantly left a lot of paying customers crying fowl. What happened with No Man’s Sky?
Before we really get into this, let’s clarify something, I don’t think it’s fair to call No Man’s Sky a bad game. I gave the game an eight out of ten when I reviewed it and while I do think I should have scored it a bit lower, I wouldn’t call it the irredeemable mess that some have. For what it’s worth, No Man’s Sky did a lot right. From it’s scale to it’s performance covering changing environments with minimal loading time, Hello Games delivered a game that for better or worse tried to do something on a scale that no game studio has done before, think about it, before No Man’s Sky, the studio was most known for the Joe Danger games. It’s that same ambition though that would alter result in them with their foots in their mouth, and find themselves in the position they are now in.
WithNo Man’s Sky, Hello Games literally promised the universe. When the game was revealed at the Spike TV Video Game Awards of all places three years ago, the hype machine immediately started turning. People were already calling it the next big thing and searching for gameplay clues. It was as mysterious as it was exciting and everyone wanted to know anything they could about Hello Game’s new ace in the hole. Then Hello Games founder Sean Murray started talking and he seemingly didn’t know how or when to stop. Murray promised in interview after interview a number of features the didn’t make it into the final product and these were huge features that make No Man’s Sky a completely different game than what was promised. Everything seemed to unravel when two players realized they were on the same planet, which Murray promised wasn’t likely. They searched for each other and despite Murray’s claims were not able to see each other despite Murray’s claim that they could. Quickly, players started to realize that there was a lot missing and that this was not the No Man’s Sky they had been promised.
These days, video games are released incomplete on a regular basis but the amount of content that was seemingly missing from No Man’s Sky goes beyond what we’ve come to expect from getting regular updates from developers. A quick search on the internet will show pages and pages of content that fans, those who eagerly put their money down for a chance to be part of this universe have found are missing including the ability to destroy large star freighters and planets that have their own gravity and rotational effects. What’s perhaps most concerning is that Hello Games hasn’t updated their official site for news on additions to No Man’s Sky since the beginning of September and Murray hasn’t tweeted since shortly after the game’s release.
Looking at the trouble that No Man’s Sky is having, I can’t help but be reminded of another game that promised the universe and disappointed fans when it was originally released; Activision’s Destiny. If you remember, I didn’t even give the game a review score because I found it such an incomplete experience. It was a fun shooter but failed to deliver anything near the revolutionary gameplay experience that Bungie and Activision promised. Flash forward to three years and a number of content updates later and Destiny is one of my favorite games and it’s in constant rotation in my house. There’s more content than I could have ever imagined. Could No Man’s Sky eventually shape into the game that Destiny has become? Time will tell but the studio needs to be more open with the fans that feel abandoned after purchasing their product to even begin that process.
To be fair though, it’s not like Murray and Hello Games didn’t try to delay the game. It was pushed back more than most games and was even hit with a last second delay that pushed it back a month, resulting in Murray getting death threats, which is never excusable. By then though, the damage had already been done. Murray had promised the universe and beyond and they likely realized that they couldn’t deliver. Even Shuhei Yoshida, Sony’s own President of Worldwide Studios, faulted Murray’s over promising, while placing part of the blame on the company. "I understand some of the criticisms especially Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one," Yoshida said in an interview with Eurogamer. “It wasn’t a great PR strategy, because he didn’t have a PR person helping him, and in the end he is an indie developer.”
No Man’s Sky players, what do you think of the game since it’s been out? Do you feel like the game delivered is different than the one promised? Let us know!
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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