Early this week, the review aggregator OpenCritic caused widespread panic when they tweeted about publications not receiving early review copies of No Man's Sky. It was just the beginning of what would become a week-long debacle involving one of the most hyped games of the year. On Tuesday, OpenCritic sent out a rather simple tweet: "Several publications, incl some large ones, have reported to us that they won't be receiving No Man's Sky review copies prior to launch." It immediately led to massive threads on Reddit and NeoGAF. Gamers, already worried that No Man's Sky is destined to be the next Spore, saw this as a red flag.
Publishers typically send out review copies a week or two before a game's release day, although it's not uncommon for codes to arrive just a few days or even a day in advance. Once in a while, as with this year's Doom, a publisher will decide not to send out early codes at all. No Man's Sky was an unusual situation, however, because a copy of the game had already leaked over the weekend. The person playing it had been posting impressions and footage for days, and the community was already freaking out over reported bugs and other issues.
Although OpenCritic switched gears the next day — "We can confirm that there are advanced review copies planned for No Man's Sky later this wk." — the debacle continued throughout the week, as more leaked copies began to emerge. No Man's Sky fans are a, um, passionate bunch, and their reactions were not exactly restrained.
Sony's reps, who have been handling marketing and PR duties for No Man's Sky, have informed reviewers that they're waiting on a 'pre-launch patch' before sending out codes. As of this morning, those codes were not out yet. Which is why I thought it was strange when last night my friends list was full of journalists playing No Man's Sky, and when this morning I saw Polygon streaming the first hour of the game.
As it turns out, several major gaming outlets including Polygon went out and bought the game from one of the stores in New York City that have broken street date and are selling the game right now. The pre-launch patch is not up yet, and review codes aren't officially out, but several reviewers already have the game. (We're going to hunt for it now.) The debacle continues.