The No Man’s Sky Hype Dilemma

The No Man’s Sky Hype Dilemma

It’s become clear, a week after the launch of No Man’s Sky, that the much-hyped space game has not lived up to many players’ lofty expectations. But whose fault is that? Does it matter? And how could the backlash have been avoided?

Critical assessment of the game’s achievements aside — go read Kirk’s excellent review if you want one of those — it’s apparent that No Man’s Sky didn’t deliver on at least a few of the promises made by director Sean Murray and his crew at Hello Games. For years, Murray had declared that in the unlikely scenario that two players ran into one another on a planet, those players would see each other’s avatars. On launch day, No Man’s Sky players immediately found out that this wasn’t the case. Murray has not addressed this. He didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story, and the company has not responded to several requests for clarification on this issue.

Earlier this week, one Redditor drew a lot of attention with a large, detailed post that compiled a variety of Murray quotes leading up to the game’s launch. “Where’s the No Man’s Sky we were sold on?” the Redditor asked, pointing to various features that never actually made it into the game, from minor (radio chatter) to major (the ability to play the game without gathering resources). The Reddit post is scattered and unnecessarily nitpicky, but the point it makes is hard to ignore. What happened to all of Murray’s claims?

It’s not just press quotes — the video footage designed to sell us on No Man’s Sky tells an equally rough story. Early trailers for No Man’s Sky, like the one we saw at E3 2014, appear to show an entirely different game. What’s the deal?

Murray and his company haven’t addressed any of these questions, but if I had to guess, the answer is pretty simple: Things changed. Things were cut. Hello Games is a remarkably small team. There are roughly 15 of them. Even after months of sleepless nights and 16-hour work days, they still didn’t have time to finish everything they wanted to get in the game, so those promises were lost along the way.

For game developers, it’s easy to sympathise with that. Many took to Twitter to scoff at the Reddit thread. Some called it “entitlement”. One tweet, by game designer Forrest Dowling, drew a fair amount of attention from the game development crowd. “Dev lesson: avoid talking about anything that’s not locked in your game,” Dowling said. “Aspirations become promises once stated.” Other developers chimed in to point out that cases like No Man’s Sky are why big-budget game companies tend to have such controlled PR messages. If PR is running everything, there’s less risk of a game dev making ambitious claims that reflect what they hope to accomplish rather than what they have accomplished.

Dowling’s perspective is interesting. He’s been in AAA development, as the lead level designer on the much-hyped BioShock Infinite, and he’s now an independent developer, having just released The Flame in the Flood. So I reached out and asked for more of his thoughts on the subject.

“My reaction to the reddit post was a feeling that in some ways it was a predictable outcome, and that there’s a lesson to be learned there for developers who haven’t had the benefit of learning about PR and marketing from experienced professionals in the field,” Dowling said in an email. “I felt it was worth calling out in that context because those are areas where indies are often less experienced and I felt like it was a good object lesson as to why larger developers are often very controlled with their statements in interviews and press. I also felt really bad for Sean and the Hello Games folks… I can’t imagine how draining seeing that sort of post would be about seeing something you just spent the last 5 years working on.”

It’s easy to see why any game developer would feel for Murray and crew. There’s a sort of fraternity among people who have worked on games — been in the trenches, as they like to say — and making games is a difficult, iterative process that can lead to drastic changes even in the final months of a dev cycle. Game developers know what it feels like to have cool ideas, talk about them, and fail to execute.

Yet how do you draw the line between creative excitement and false promises? When a developer makes claims about features in their game, how can video game fans tell if they’re guarantees or just hopes? Many have drawn comparisons between Sean Murray and Peter Molyneux, who infamously promised features that never came to fruition, sometimes telling the media about game mechanics before he even told his staff. Is that fair? Is it false advertising?

Taken further, is it fair to say that the developers of No Man’s Sky lied to fans?

“I think the idea that people have been lied to implies a level of cynical intent that I would have a hard time imagining any developer who’s passionate about their work engaging in,” Dowling told me. “I’m sure there are people in the world who will overtly lie about what they’re selling to make a fast buck, but I think those people are rarely found among people who’ve poured themselves into something for years. I do think it’s advisable for a developer to clarify cut features if those features have been presented publicly or advertised, which is a good reason to be careful about what you share.”

Over the past few days Kotaku has received a fair number of emails asking us to call attention to that big Reddit post, mostly from fans who feel aggrieved. They feel like they have been lied to. Some feel like they have spent $80 on a game that didn’t deliver what its developers said it would.

“I am not aiming for a witch hunt,” said one Kotaku reader who asked that I not name him. “I am not out to reduce Sean / Hello Games to a sobbing ruin. I do play No Man’s Sky myself and see the huge potential it has. I also do believe that many gamers would actually be (somewhat) understanding if HG came out and said ‘Well, sorry, we simply couldn’t get it done until August. Tiny indie developer and all that. 24/7 crunch. Shame on us. But all of it is still in the works. We will add it piece by piece. Promise.'”

That’s been the frustrating constant. Silence. Since No Man’s Sky shipped, Murray and Hello Games have been silent about these complaints. They have been silent about the lack of player interactions. They have been silent about the list of missing features. They have addressed many of the bugs and crashes, but not much else.

It’s that silence that has angered fans more than anything else. I certainly hope the lesson for game developers here isn’t to stay quiet or lean on strict PR-controlled messages for their games. If anything, they should have the opposite takeaway. Have to cut cool features you’ve talked about in the press? Fine! Video games change. We get it. The solution isn’t to stay silent about it, but to explain to fans why they can’t, say, see one another when they’re on the same planet. Or why the No Man’s Sky described in 2014 looks so much different than the one we’re playing in 2016.

“I do find this whole episode to be pretty sad for everyone involved,” Dowling said. “No one likes being disappointed, no one likes to disappoint others, and this whole thing seems like another instance of players and developers finding themselves in adversarial positions. I don’t think it’s a situation that’s healthy or enjoyable for anyone involved, and it’s incumbent on everyone to do what they can to avoid finding themselves in similar shoes.”


  • I think Murray and Hello Games have silenced by Sony. It’s beginning to look like Hello Games were a little too ambitious in what they set out to achieve and sadly haven’t been able to deliver. I don’t think we have been lied too, but I think we should have been told before release that certain features had to be cut.

    • Totally this, Hello games may have truly ran out of time and when the marketing team of Sony got involved they would of gagged them to stop any “bad PR” so that everyone would assume everything is on track and happy times.

      Perhaps these features are still being worked on, and will make into the game at a later stage. Honesty is still a better stance then complete silence. I guess the spin-doctors at sony are just trying to word it the right way.

      im gonna guess it will be something along the lines of “I had a dream, and like all dreamers we sometimes aim to high, then the day comes to fly free only to realise that we cant leave our solar system because a glitch has crippled our warp drive so we get stuck till we can work out how to fix it.”

    • silenced by Sony? they have been a really quiet and untalkative development teams for years. they barely have a twitter presence and dont use facebook. its not like their lack of contact is surprising, that is how they have always been.

  • Good article. But also. Bad article.

    Basically, going to copy something I said in the other No Man’s Sky posts on and off:

    I’m not going to blame ‘games journalism’ for being excited about un-released products. That’s like telling sports journalists to not be enthusiastic about the upcoming season.

    We’re seeing a LOT of different games thanks to the diverse range of voices able to pick up such democratised development tools now. That’s a good thing.

    I don’t see why the same people who champion such games have to begrudge or dismiss people who cover videogames when they speak enthusiastically about technological advances like No Man’s Sky purported to have. And for the most part, yes, it looks like it’s achieved quite a bit on the ‘mechanics’ front.

    Is this still an indie game like Joe Danger or what? What’s our definition of indie game this

    Yes, as a collective, ‘gamers’ (I hate the word) and ‘gaming’ in general needs to better understand what sort of a pressure cooker environment that development is. I feel Schreier is sorta patronising, what the hell do I care if Reddit children don’t understand what it’s like to work under intense pressure and have shit hit the fan? That’s what happens when you are employed as part of a wider team with a deadline to meet.

    The games press isn’t intrinsic to the pre-release or pre-launch cycle a game goes through, so a company’s ‘Silence’ isn’t always a bad thing. It just makes journo’s sound petty (ie when they complain about Nintendo doing Nintendo Directs and not inviting them to play Zelda or whatever – yes I’m generalising) but the worse thing is it gives Reddit children and commenters the ammo they need to go and abuse:

    a) devs
    b) random person on social media who posts about stuff for the company
    c) fans of the finished game, who enjoy it

    Too Loquacious Did Not Absorb Fully: We’re all at fault.

    • Awesome response mate.
      I don’t envy the guys at Hello Games atm.
      They have made an awesome game, its ashame about all the hate.

  • I expected nothing and was still disappointed. It has to be the most repetitive and tedious game of all time. Maybe Sony should have spent some money on development and not marketing.

    • That would imply that Sony made the game, they did not, their deal with Hello Games was just to market it, hence why it’s likely at some stage (or maybe not now that it’s gone so badly) that this will appear on Xbone. Hello Games is not a first party Sony studio.

      • I suspect that Hello Games’ overlords at SONY may well have had a negative influence on the game’s development, as it needed to conform to the PS4’s limited performance parameters, and if Hello Games, shortly after, released a noticeably superior version for the PC, it would not have looked good for SONY, or their irate console owners.

        Just a speculative thought.

    • complaining about the repetition and tedious nature of the game, is to complain about what the game is all about. the reason why some of us are liking it is because of those very things. its the style of the game.

    • Sonys marketing was to release a trailer post release – have you seen it .. It’s a joke , like a stripped down version of the current NMS game play. The sad thing is its deliberatly made in light of the expectation dilemma – Nms has allot missing and I hope eventually we end up with a game that was originally proposed as legit.

  • I think this has more to do with the way we see quality and experience as wholly objective concepts now, as opposed to being on a spectrum of subjectivity like it used to. We feel dissonance with something we play and then we run around looking for a reason that tells us our subjective feelings are objectively correct (against what criteria is up for debate) and we run with that perspective.

    I mean, read the way people write, listen to how they speak; they ask questions like “Since _______ turned out to be such a bad game, due to ____ being “unfunny”, ____ being “unplayable” and _____ being flat out “NOT FUN”, will you ever buy a ____ game again?”

    If we have people who genuinely think these are reasonable questions concerning qualitative assessment, strong enough to enact ACTION upon – then i’m not sure what we can do. There’s definitely a conversation/discussion somewhere in there, it just isn’t and has never been a generalised dichotomy. The issue is nuanced and complex but it’ll never be properly explored if we’re ALL out to confirm our prejudices and mask our ignorance.

  • people really need to stop blaming this mythical hype monster. hype only works when people are gullible enough to believe in it and they use it to boost their expectations. Hell we have all done it.

    believing in hype is like believing in a politician during an election complain. Should truth always be told, sure, but is it, no, not in this reality or any other. Game development is always in a state of flux, and things get cut or change all the time. Everything before launch is hope, best case scenario, day dreaming, advertising and ambition. Everything at launch is FACT.

    Gamers really need to taken responsibility for their own actions. No one is forcing them to preorder but those who keep blaming this mythical hype monster and putting the fault squarely at the foot of the devs, need to grow up and take some responsibility and control in their decision making. There is a choice.

    As I said elsewhere the other day…Whether a dev lied, or whether things got cut. Whether we were told or not. Whether that is right or wrong, illegal or just reality, it doesnt matter… the only thing that does matter is how the game is at launch. That is how it has always been long before we ever heard the words No Man’s Sky. Ultimately YOU decide how YOU spend YOUR money and there is a way to protect yourself… wait for reviews and streams, but no, everyone still just blaming the hype monster. Its easier and more guilt-free than blaming themselves and gives them a Big Bad Villain to boo at if things go wrong.

    No thanks, I would rather just ‘adult’ and accept advertising is only there to entice and if I get suckered in, the fault is all mine.

    • I have no problem with hype, we all get excited over things we like and it gives us something to look forward too. I’m not a pre-ordering person, but I do like to purchase a game on release date so I can play it without really knowing too much, it’s a risk and I’m happy to take that risk.

  • It’s the same with all games, don’t show it until it’s nearly done! Even if that means it’s 6 months from release, who cares! Show your game when it’s ready and is “feature complete” and not 3 years in advance!

    • That wouldn’t have helped much in this case, most of the missing features were still being promoted in the last few months. There was never a time (even post-launch) where the devs/marketing have told us any different than ‘these things are in the game.’

      This is not the same with all games, just look at the level of communication that comes from Jeff Kaplan even over something as simple as a bug fix patch for Overwatch. To use it as an example, we knew competitive wasn’t in for launch because we were informed pre-launch and shockingly there was no real outrage about it, because we knew what we were paying for.

      Hello Games simply put out more and more misleading information all the way to launch and then went silent.

  • The major thing most of the twitter people mentioned here flaming people about ‘entitlement’ and so on is this isn’t about lofty promises or hopes mentioned in a single interview.
    Most of the stuff from that reddit thread have been shown to us or promoted as already in the game even as recently as a month ago (the four pillars trailers) yet it’s not in the game, with no word as to why.

    This isn’t like the old WoW dance studio that just never got built, these are features that either were in-game (in some form) and removed or features that we have been told were in the game (i.e. a lie, even if they ‘hoped’ to fix it later, they still lied at the time).

    The really disappointing thing is I love the game even as it is (though I’d love it more if it had the simulation that was expected rather than instances and skyboxes, among other things) but when a company flat out lies about their product and then ignores customer complaints about it, I just can’t trust them again.

    Edit: At home now so I can post a link to the biggest thing that this article seems to ignore:
    “The planet is rotating on it’s axis, that’s what’s different about this game, we don’t have some painting in the sky that rotates.”
    That was late April this year, talking about how the entire game runs on a simulation rather than a map with a skybox – except the launch game is a set of instanced maps with a rotating skybox. So either they completly re-built the game in under 4 months (and didn’t tell anyone) or they were lying about it the entire time, for years. Either way I’d call that misleading advertising, not entitlement over hype.

  • I got to this part ” the video footage designed to sell us on No Man’s Sky tells an equally rough story. Early trailers for No Man’s Sky, like the one we saw at E3 2014, appear to show an entirely different game. What’s the deal?” Then stopped reading. What is the difference? The UI is different? So after 2 years, people are upset about a UI change? I don’t see how the early footage is so much different to the current game? The are creatures to discover, there are friendly ships and enemy ships, large freighters warp in while flying around. God damn people are so pathetically petty, it’s infuriating.

    Since when has a game been identical to a launch trailer released 2+ years earlier? Changes are made, things are improved, other things have to be removed due to hardware constraints. This is not 1980’s pacman, it’s a procedurally generated game which is larger than anything that’s been done before and it wasn’t produced by a AAA company with millions of dollars to spare and 100’s of staff.

    Why can’t people just enjoy it for what it is and what it always was? It’s the generation of bloody entitlement, these twats really have to get a grip and grow up. You can’t have everything you want, how you want it. If you do, make the bloody game yourself and see how you cope with the barrage of shit you and your generation feel entitled to dish out.

    Ok, rant over.

    • Its more than just the UI, its the whole presentation thats different. Come out of the cave, there are a few creatures around, AND giant dinosaurs. That seem to fight each other. That world is a lot more populated than the ones I’m seeing.

      When you get into space, you see a giant battle open up right in front of you. Far more dynamic than the released game, which revolves around getting jumped by pirates, or helping out with distress calls. Its those differences people see, and what they are complaining about.

      If that game, right there in the 2014 trailer, was what we got, theres no discussion. But we arent seeing that, we’re seeing sterile worlds with little to no variety. No rivers, no giant creatures every 3rd step, no sense of involvement.

      I’m not complaining, I like the game, and will spend hundreds of hours on it as time goes on, but what was there before, that isnt now, is telling when you put that E3 2014 trailer alongside the released product. I hadnt realised how telling until I watched that vid though.

      • At one time, Sean Murray was talking about only 1 in 10 planets having life, and 1 in 10 of those having interesting life.

        Obviously that changed, and I believe for the better. Should I hold up Sean to his original statement? I don’t think so. It was what he intended at the time, but I assume play testing determined that it was not interesting enough. The game changed, as it should.

        Likewise, having most worlds jam packed with large creatures, would lead to an unfortunate familiarity, and a loss of wonder. So I’m glad this is not the case as well.

        In the end, a game should not be judged on the intent of developers from years back, but by the state of the game upon release. This is the problem that most people have. They see that trailer made years ago, and then believe that the game will be the same as that. People need to learn that things will change. It is inevitable. The original dream is rarely viable in reality.

        For me, personally, I’m enjoying the game as it is. I can see myself playing it, 6 months down the track, on nights where I want to just chill out for an hour or so, and discover a new system I haven’t been to, of which there will be plenty. Perhaps take on a few pirates, just to make up for the grief that they’re currently causing me.

        Plus, it’ll only get better as Hello Games patch in new features in the future. I’m pretty happy with it.

    • Read the reddit thread. This article did a horrible job of explaining the problems people have which is barely related to the 2014 video (because it’s old, we know it’s pre-alpha) and more from interviews/videos from the last few months – all used for marketing the launch, all very misleading.

      Don’t bring out the entitled bullshit whenever anyone complains about anything as if you think people should be happy to get ripped off. If you bought a 4-seater car only to find it was missing 3 seats would you not complain? I guess that would be entitlement since it still drives fine so you should be happy you didn’t lose an arm in the transaction.

      As stated above, I really enjoy the game, doesn’t mean I don’t have issues with the devs misleading, lying to and ignoring players.

      • I WILL bring out the entitled bullshit because it’s a massive issue this generation suffers from, whether it be something like this, or in the workplace. People aren’t happy unless they’re bitching and moaning and making themselves heard on social media. It’s an addiction and people can’t seem to leave it alone.

        As for the car, well if you’re happy enough to go out and buy a car with one seat, then good for you. A little common sense would help out in solving that situation. For example, a test drive, a review, a youtube video. All things that are available for just about everything these days.

        • Exactly, just wait a few days and watch some videos and read some opinions. Problem solved and money saved.

      • nope the whole entitled thing is real and its getting worse. As a gamer I have got to a stage where I am completely over gamers. So many of them has got things around back to front currently.

        Yes providing misleading information is wrong. In SOME instances it could be classed as false advertising but in most instances its just called advertising. Which is inherently about misrepresenting something and enticing people to part with money. It is wrong, sure. Should it not happen, sure. However it always will. Its like politician lying during a campaign, only a fool ever believes a word they say, yet its not illegal to do what they do. Likewise situations like this. The rest of us gamers know the reality of the situation: trade show videos and all pre-launch interviews are nothing but fluff. If people believe it, they are fools.

        BUT, here’s the thing… There is a choice…

        As a gamer there is no reason to ever buy a game before launch. None. All this talk of hype and bollocks and lying it all means nothing, because as a gamer no one is forcing you to part with your money before you see the FINAL product, simple isnt it? until such time as reviews come out and you have watched streams. no one is forcing you to buy the game, no one is forcing you to believe the lies, IF they are lies. but no, all these gamers feel they are entitled to absolutely perfection, they believe they own the devs lives, they believe nothing will ever go wrong, or change etc. no excuses or justifications. Just mindless and unattainable absolute perfection. Bah imagine if they had a few million people telling them how to run their life and work.

        The only time gamers are entitled to anything is after they spend their money on a FINISHED product and only after being informed of what that finished product is via reviews and streams, compare to what was said before that time.

        Pre-order should only be done with a mind to what you are buying into will and possibly change. Thats reality.

    • This article misses a key point – the four release previews appear to be from the 2014 build, not the current one. The fact is, Murray has ample opportunity to mention stuff had bee dropped, but instead spent time banging on about how the day one patch “changes” everything. Incidentally, I didn’t pre-order because I thought some of the claims were dubious based on other procedural generate games. At point he was talking about the team changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere to create green skies on some planets. Ridiculous claim.

    • Indeed. I’ve looked at that trailer twice now after 20+ hours of play in the game and am wondering where this “lie” is? I mean the trailer condenses multiple gameplay elements into a short sequence, which isn’t impossible to happen in game just unlikely, and I sure have done everything in the trailer in the real game. I mean I guess I haven’t seen quite as much megafauna all together at once so maybe they slightly oversold the density of weird creatures for some marketing punch? (Although I’ve seen plenty of pics of weird megafauna and it makes me excited to check out more of the universe, because every new pic or vid I see really demonstrates how amazingly varied this procedural universe is!) I mean it’s E3 so the answer is basically “of course,” but it’s bloody E3. You put your best foot forward and show what you HOPE the game to be since it certainly isn’t finished when you’re first promoting it.

      They mention Molyneux in the article, and I’ve gotta say back in the 90s I loved Black and White. I think Molyneux is an amazing dude but that’s because I recognise that games almost never live up to the hype train. Even when I was a young teen back in the 90s I knew this too. I was enjoying playing Black and White while people whinged about it not living up to the ridiculous hype of such an ambitious game. I was enjoying gameplay that was still quite revolutionary while people whinged that it didn’t live up to their lofty imaginations. And hey, back then you wouldn’t dream of a game being as ridiculously cheap as $60 on release day , but I guess I’m just showing my age even more there, you dang kids 😛

      The gaming community is always hungry for details! Seems like a hard choice for a dev. You keep silent and people whinge and build up whatever they want in their imaginations to compare your game to, or you keep them informed and then when things fall short you listen to the hate because you dared to do something ambitious. I mean I can remember helping kickstart Planetary Annihilation a few years back and while I enjoyed being so close to the game’s production I noticed how dev communication is taken. You dare mention that you want to try and do this thing and people instantly think it’s a promise and berate you if you can’t deliver it, EVEN IF YOU CLEARLY STATE IT IS ONLY ASPIRATION AND IT MAY NOT EVEN MAKE IT INTO THE GAME! I mean I was quite involved in the forums through the development and I watched as the devs went from being very open to being much more closed and there was still heaps of whinging no matter which way they went. Are gamers entitled? 100% yes, no freaking doubt! Why are they so? Cause they’re excited, which isn’t a bad thing, but they need to realise that dreams are just that. Games are born from those but dreams aren’t a product you can market and sell. You can’t play dreams, they have to be converted to reality first and that takes a lot, and they ALWAYS change in that process. I find it strange that people who identify as gamers don’t seem to recognise this universal truth.

      While all the rage is going on I’ll just keep on enjoying this revolutionary game, that is allowing me an experience I’ve only dreamed of most of my gaming life. If you don’t like it there are plenty of other games, in fact nowadays you’re ludicrously spoiled for choice and things are so amazingly cheap! Go out there and enjoy another game, knowing this one just wasn’t for you in the end. And maybe appreciate that devs would even take the chance to TRY and make something so ambitious, because without these sort of far reaching ambitions we’ll all be playing the billionth iteration of Safe-But-Tired-Old-Mechanics-FPS.

  • If it wasn’t the price of a AAA game it wouldn’t cop so much backlash. After all the promotion etc, most people probably expected a bit more.

  • hmm to be frank this is old news.
    Murray just made himself this generation’s Peter Molyneux, which basically burns himself and Hello Games on anything they make in the future (and by extension- Sony)

    I do wonder if they broke the law eg. Australian Consumer Law referring specifically to misleading conduct. A person more learned than I could perhaps make that determination.

    • Maybe if the features cut were advertised on the game box/posters/website etc that would be considered misleading. Talking about a game pre-release means nothing.

  • Yeah, NMS was missing a bunch of features. That’s not really the issue, though. The problem NMS has is the same problem it’s had since the first announcement: they never worked out an interesting core gameplay loop.

    They could’ve put in all the butterflies and space battles and customisable ships you want, but they never had a pitch for why you’d do any of this. It’s the same problem Spore had. Huge potential space, but without an interesting narrative or meaningful multiplayer interaction, it was never going to be an interesting game. (And this is why the NMS hype train confused me the whole way through – “Why?” was the big question after the announcement, and it never did get answered.)

  • Hello Games is a remarkably small team. There are roughly 15 of them. Even after months of sleepless nights and 16-hour work days, they still didn’t have time to finish everything they wanted to get in the game, so those promises were lost along the way.

    This. I like to believe Hello Games absolutely intended for everything they promised to be in the game. They never pushed the MP idea in interviews, it was always dragged out of them, so they clearly wanted it to happen, but weren’t there yet.

  • Too many people bought the hype and wouldn’t hear anything different. I haven’t picked it up yet but my friends who have it are still enjoying it and i’m sure i will too, expecting some of the things people were hyping the game up to be was just un realistic for a small dev team.

  • I honestly feel like Sony coming on board was one of the worst things that could have happened for NMS, and that’s coming from a Sony “fan”.

    The second they came on board, the hype train really started rolling. It also means they’re subject to Sony PR and marketing.

    Plus, I really do feel like if NMS had stayed an indie PC-only game, it probably would have come out cheaper and as an Early Access title. Sony don’t allow Early Access, and the problem is NMS was launched as a full price, “finished” game. Customers tend to be a little more forgiving of “cut” features and so on if the game isn’t full price and it’s clearly marked as Early Access.

    • If Sony wasn’t on board the game would have probably trickled out like a wet fart!

      I imagine most developers don’t want to put their games in early access but do it out of necessity. Developers certainly wouldn’t want to put their game out for less money. Not many developers (apart from Star Citizen) can have there games in perpetual development only on the PC platform. Maybe Hello Games had to release NMS now or go bankrupt (when was their last game released).

      But what Hello Games (with Sony) did do is put out a Game at a premium price point and got thousands, maybe millions of people to buy it.

      I say fair play to them!

      They got there game out there and have made heaps and heaps of cash. Now NMS might not have been the perfect game that gamers wanted or the developers want to make, but they have secured the financial security of Hello Games. Hello games can now afford to expand, improve NMS, make more interesting titles, or everyone there can cash in their cheques and retire.

      As for video’s not showing the final product… do we really have to go over this again every time it happens? When will people learn. I believe even the GOTY Witcher 3 got a downgrade.

      • I’m not arguing it from a business point, it makes perfect sense. As a consumer however, I’d rather pay $30 for an Early Access product and then have features trickled out over the next year or two. As opposed to currently where people paid $80 and…will probably still have features trickled out over a year or two.

        As for video’s not showing the final product… do we really have to go over this again every time it happens? When will people learn. I believe even the GOTY Witcher 3 got a downgrade.

        Normally I’d totally agree with you, but we’re not talking about the finished game vs say, a video from E3 two years ago. They literally showed a video of a build in June/July that had features missing from the launch game. That’s a month or two before release.

        TL;DR – there is a lot I like about NMS, but I can’t help but be incredibly disappointed by what could have been. I’m not even talking about the complicit, totally untrustworthy media/public hype. I’m talking about what could have been based on actual gameplay videos and developer interviews up until a month ago.

        • Fair enough I understand your point.

          Personally I always wait for reviews until I buy any game. Games companies having been pulling crap for decades! I remember reading in a PC gaming magazine 20 years ago that in Elder Scrolls Daggerfall (another procedural generated “ground breaking” game) that I would be able sit by a lake in a forest and watch a beautiful waterfall… like that was ever in the game. Instead what I got was an infinite amount of crappy dungeons, crappy towns and outdoor areas that had barely a tree let alone and forest or lake.

          I just hope that Hello Games goes on to make their Elder Scrolls Skyrim.

  • This isn’t my default position on the subject, because there are clearly cases where companies are disingenuous with their marketing practices, but in this particular case, I think the vast majority of people who are disappointed in NMS only have themselves to blame. So many seem like they were too busy buying into what this game COULD be without stopping to think if that vision was ever really possible, regardless of what was being touted in the marketing material (e.g. with 18 ‘BAZILLION’ planets, procedurally generated… do you really think a small team would ever have the time to create a system that would make the majority of these places interesting, varied and worth visiting???? Is that even realistic? Think about how ‘interesting’ the rest of the planets are in our solar system if you’re not into the pure science of understanding their existence).

    They were also too busy buying into what the game COULD be without thinking about what the (as @bondles calls it) ‘core gameplay loop’ was going to be. There were articles for MONTHS about this game, pre-release, pondering just what the hell you would do in the game from minute to minute… The core of any game, the actual gameplay, was largely an unknown, aside from a few vague statements, when it comes to NMS.

    Why anyone let themselves get so carried away by all of this, I’m not sure I can understand; Skyrim, made by huge AAA developers, had content that was lauded for its volume but to me was extremely repetitive and accompanied by a boring ‘core gameplay loop’, and yet it is nothing on the scale of this game, which was made by a comparatively tiny dev team. IMO it was never going to be what people built it up to be in their head.

  • They had big hopes for what they could achieve. Sadly the reality didn’t match up with that but I don’t really blame them for being optimistic. What surprises me is the end user vitriol. Like, if you watch any ads on tv you take what they say with a grain of salt – they’re trying to sell a product after all – I don’t get why games aren’t viewed in the same way. My feeling is that you can either class games as a commercial product, in which case don’t be surprised when they don’t do absolutely everything it says on the tin, or you can class them as art, in which case it’s art and you can’t really complain about the ‘quality’ of the work itself as it’s entirely subjective.

  • I’m not sure why everyone is still saying “Hype” is at fault; The current steam trailer clearly shows dogfighting in formation, something that doesn’t exist in the game.

    You can’t gaslight me into thinking my expectations were to blame when you clearly misrepresent your product in it’s promotional material and are deliberately evasive.

    • that is from production material from ages away. not everything from production material makes it into a final release. The same can be said of games of tv/movie trailers and even books. Its not unique to No Mans Sky or gaming itself.

      sometimes things get removed for good reasons, sometimes bad, sometimes because they just didnt work and sometimes, yes, for sinister reasons… but they are in production material, during a development stage, months/years before a whole game comes together as a unit.

      Hype and advertising only works when someone’s expectations are engaged. Without expectations, hype is like acting in a theatre show that will never had an audience. Without an audience, there can never be a show. Without engaging someone’s expectations and enticing them, hype doesnt work and it just becomes passive advertising.

      If you cant accept that things change during development why are you a gamer? That is the very nature of the beast. When I watch production material I dont believe it, I dont expect everything I see to be realised because “its in development, everything is subject to change”. I am smart enough to know I dont need to see that disclaimer to be aware of the fact.

      • I’m not sure what your issue is, I’m not sure why you are a gamer that is happy with misrepresentation of a product even at launch?

        If you are cool with it that’s up to you, man. Just keep towing the line that it’s all good to use “development” trailers at full release that show features that don’t exist. It’s an issue with the industry, and with your “it’s always like this” attitude you are just happy to bend over and take it I guess.

        Good luck.

        • nope just a gamer who has been playing for like 40 years. Since Atari boxes looked nothing like the games inside and a person who has spent a lifetime seeing pictures at places like McDonalds never EVER looking like what they become.

          Almost every single game ever has made statements about things that never came into a game. Whether by mistake, lies, conspiracy, tech issues, time issues, misunderstanding… whether motived by good or less moral things. In gaming: ‘development’ means everything is questionable.

          Its not a case of me being happy with it, its a question of reality. World Peace sounds really awesome but I dont sit around wishing for that because it is never going to happen. Likewise I dont believe everything I hear during a development period, because the word development actually implies things as ‘changing into something’. There is so much that can go wrong and change with game development to believe everything you are told is brainless, stupid, flawed and not very mature.

          I guess those type of people are also surprised when a dog bites. Its just what they do. Not always, but always there is a chance.

        • Hey @capslockfury I’ll have to ask you to stop abusing the comment report feature, as we’ve reviewed the comments in question and found that they don’t violate our community guidelines. If you continue to do so, we’ll have to restrict your community account privileges.

          I’ll also remind you that personal attacks against other users do violate our community guidelines, so if you have nothing more to discuss about the content of the article I’d suggest you consider this comment thread done and dusted.

          • He’s literally insulting me in his comments, yet those have not been removed.

            “to believe everything you are told is brainless, stupid, flawed and not very mature.”

            Why do you think I re-reported it? to abuse the system? No, I did so because you didn’t even read it in the first place.

            Ban me or whatever but at least do your job.

          • I did see that, and decided that it was oblique enough to slip through (if only just), combined with the rest of the comment being a well-considered addition to the discussion. I also compared it to your response, with contained far more direct insults than the ones you were reporting.
            Feel free to get in touch through the contact form if you have any more questions.

          • yeah I did mean ‘you’ in a broad context, not a personal ‘you’. But on rereading I can see how it could have been taking the other way. Sorry.

  • Then don’t play it, simple as that. Frankly, why would you waste your time posting comments on a game you don’t like, seems stupid to me.

  • What can other developers learn? These guys made squillions of dollars because they showed some promise and LET the hype train..

    They dont care. They literally got every man and his dog to buy it off faked videos. I love it. I saw it a mile away and still everyone fell for it. It was always going to be a boring empty universe ( i didnt even think it would be as bad as it is).

    So what can other developers learn from this? Show potential and clam up if the hype train gets rolling. You can make millions without needing to invest in development resources.

  • The game is a vehicle for meditation, at least that’s what it is to me. I get a lot out of it, but I can understand why other people may have different experiences.

  • Let’s not crucify Hello Games for starting off with an overly ambitious vision. He is far from the first developer to make bold claims about his project in the early days of development (Hello Mr Molyneux) and he won’t be the last. In fact we need these ambitious minds in the industry coming up with new ways of thinking to keep things interesting.

    The issue is that because of the open nature of the game and the initial ambition of Hello Games people took this concept at let their (including me) minds create a version of the game that we were never going to get.

    So what do you do you do when people are feverishly excited for your game but are anticipating something that greatly differs to what is actually being created? Do you quash their hopes and dreams or let them be disappointed ? Either way it’s no win.

  • Peter Molyneux bullshits about 3 Fable games in a row and Google used to autocomplete Peter Molyneux to Peter Molyneux lies; yet so many people are lining up to give Sean Murray the pass.

  • I am actually quite enjoying NMS. Just the feel of it. Exploration has always been an awesome thing for me. This game is a survival, sandbox and resource mining game. If you don’t like those things don’t buy it.

    Some of the videos I have seen over the last few months look remarkably similar to the game I am currently playing. Maybe a few name changes etc but all in all very similar.

    I am genuinely confused as to what people are getting upset about.

    In terms of cost, I generally mark my time at $10/hour. If a game costs me $80 and I get 8 hours of gameplay then it’s quite a cheap way of passing my time. I’ve played NMS for more than 8 hours already. So im in the black.

  • This reminds me of the Destiny “see that mountain over there? You can go there!” marketing bullshit.

    Yeah, people who blindly buy into hype are pretty stupid. On the other hand, when a developer says “my game will have feature X, feature Y and feature Z” a month out from release, yet it turns out that none of the features they bragged about are in the game (for whatever reason) when it releases then I think it’s entirely reasonable for questions to be asked.

    Is it entitlement to expect a product to be what it is advertised to be? Do game developers and publishers bear any responsibility when they make claims about their product and it’s features that turn out to be false? Surely the best answer (for customer and businesses) lies somewhere in the middle…

  • I must say I’m not understanding the hate for nms. It’s a massive game made by a small dev team.
    One thing does come to mine tho. What was Sony involvement? Was it purely money for exclusivity? I find it hard to believe that they didn’t or wouldn’t offer any assistance after a deal was struck at e3 2014.
    Surely Sony would have been giving them advice with PR???
    Despite everything I’m loving nms, yes it has flaws. But I’m expecting nms to be supported for a very long time. And expecting some new and “promised” features to be added down the track.

  • I think part of the problem was that the developers made out this game would let you do what ever you wanted; focus on exploring, focus on crafting, etc. The problem is that you can’t explore without crafting. Heck, you can’t even survive without crafting. Add onto that all of the irritations of the inventory system, regular pirate attacks and weak flight controls and it quickly becomes a frustrating game to play.
    It’s frustrating because part of me is enjoying the idea of a massive open universe to explore, but just not the reality of it.
    I do think that the game is massively overpriced for what was delivered and sincerely hope the developers can deliver better functionality in the months to come.
    It’s still an impressive game for a relatively small indie team.

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