Sony Boss On No Man’s Sky: ‘It Wasn’t A Great PR Strategy’

Sony Boss On No Man’s Sky: ‘It Wasn’t A Great PR Strategy’

Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida knows how you feel, No Man’s Sky players. He says he enjoyed the game, but understands why people are so upset about director Sean Murray’s tendency to over-promise and under-deliver.

No Man’s Sky, which came out in early August, immediately drew controversy when players discovered that features Murray had talked about — like characters being able to see one another — weren’t actually in the game. In the days and weeks after launch, Murray and his studio stayed silent about these missing features, ignoring requests for comment from sites like Kotaku as fans grew angrier and angrier, feeling as if they’d been misled into buying a game that didn’t deliver. Murray, who was previously active on Twitter, hasn’t tweeted since August 18.

Over at the Tokyo Game Show (a game show in Tokyo) Eurogamer‘s Dan Silver was wise enough to probe Yoshida for his thoughts on No Man’s Sky, which Sony helped market and publish. Yoshida, who is always candid, told Silver that he’d liked the game but thought they could’ve done a better job with the whole “public relations” thing, ya know?

“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. “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. But he says their plan is to continue to develop No Man’s Sky features and such, and I’m looking forward to continuing to play the game.”

It’s true. Earlier this month as I was travelling to PAX and other places, I spoke to a number of developers both AAA and indie about No Man’s Sky. There were a lot of different takeaways. One, the most cynical view, was that the “over-promise” strategy might have misled people, but it worked — No Man’s Sky sold extraordinarily well. Other developers said this was a good learning experience, and that the better solution might be to stay mum about a game’s features until they know for sure that those features will actually happen.

Ultimately, Murray should have addressed the missing features and inconsistent marketing as soon as the game launched. If he had offered any sort of explanation — even something as simple as, “Hey, we wanted to get this stuff in, but we’re a small team working 16-hour days and we just didn’t have time to make it all work” — it would have gone a long way to mitigate the anger. The fact that he and his studio still haven’t addressed any of this is, quite frankly, absurd.


    • That is correct..

      Remember folks, you can still get a refund if you have a legitimate claim.
      Don’t bother unless you have a genuine reason, proving your case politely is the only way.

      • Steam won’t let me refund,. it’s automatically declined no matter what because over 2 hours platime. I’ve tried 5 times :C

  • My question is – if Sony hadnt funded PR or anything to support this game, or got it as a PS4 exclusive, would it have still gotten released in that state? Or released as an early access game through steam? Could have all that extra money developing the PS4 build gone to providing PC gamers with all the features promised and by that same release date?

    Sony was supposedly providing PR and support for this game – yet not once did they step in to clarify or correct any miss advertised or promised features.

    I know a lot of people have been defending the game, stating that the devs didnt promise all these features and things. But when you show in game footage of planets full of plants, wonderful large animals and show the promise of epic space battles (all 2 years ago, mind you) your still deciving a lot of people.

    Sony is as much to blame in this as anyone as far as im concerned. I just hope the devs get the time to improve the game and add features before its too late. They do show promise, even if they didnt deliver on their first outing.

    • First outing? It’s their third game after Joe Danger 1 and 2. Fifth if you count the mobile Joe Danger games, too.

      If Sony hadn’t provided funding, who’s to say it wouldn’t have released in a worse state, or not at all? And their history of releasing the Joe Danger games on console first and PC significantly later would suggest that PC might have been the version to miss out if they’d had to restrict themselves to a single platform.

      • Thankyou for the clarification on their history. Was a little known fact to me.

        But still to be fair, when it was announced it was a pc exclusive and when hype built for it, Sony jumped on board. Did all those extra resources get used on just the PS4 version, or across both? Hard to say.

        If it was released in an “early access build” on steam, people would have been far less upset as they would be aware that features are potentially missing and could make that choice to support it as it is. Instead of paying full retail price and being ripped off.

    • I suppose it would come down to the model they use.
      What I mean is, how much do they involve themselves in the process?

      I remember the early days of console indies, where Sony and Microsoft were too involved.
      This generation their Indie programs were supposed to be more relaxed, support but stand back.

      Either way they dropped the ball, they either played along or gave free reign to…..well…..somebody who prob shouldn’t have gone near PR.

  • But when you show in game footage of planets full of plants, wonderful large animals

    I have explored plenty of planets that have exactly that.

    • The sandworm they demonstrated hasn’t been seen by anyone. People pulling the game files apart believe it’s not in the game at all. There were many demonstrated or promised features that were absent from release.

    • A lot of people don’t realize that the demo stuff they showed off was deliberately pre-baked. They iterated through their random seeds until they got one that looked good, and they also tweaked their generation algorithms to make multiple planets with lots of stuff on them appear close together and stuff. It gave the impression the whole game would be that lush and diverse, and most of the time it isn’t. But I should also mention that Sean did actually state as such, he just did it in such a way that the non-technical probably wouldn’t have understood the implications that well.

    • Really? I have not seen one second of in game footage that even slightly compares to how vibrant and alive the inital videos were. Release day alone, I managed to squeeze in over 4 hours straight of streamed footage and I saw no planets full of lush forrests, massive dinosaur animals, seas full of fish and vegetation etc.

      Note that was all on one planet.

  • I got this not having seen any of the interviews, so I was pretty happy with what I got (I don’t have a lot of time for games at the moment, so it hasn’t bored me as I only play it for maybe an hour every few days, also I just find it relaxing going out to explore and see what you can find) But I watched the Angry Joe review on Youtube and I can see why people are annoyed. There aren’t different classes of ships (all purely cosmetic), you can’t side with alien factions and do missions for them, you can’t interact with the large capital ships (land on them, scan them etc), and a whole lot of other things that were stated as being in the game. Anyway, I’m enjoying it, but I can definitely see why people are angry and frustrated!

  • The fault lies in both courts, Sony should have known the product they were marketing and Sean Murray should have only discussed what he knew was on the game, not what he hoped would be. Personally i enjoyed it and if free updatws come out, then ill play them aswell, wont pay for dlc unless reviews absolutely rave about it.

  • Am I the only person that laughs out loud when thinking about Sean Murray’s silence? There’s something admirable about it, he would know he’s doing the wrong thing but its vacation time

  • Other developers said this was a good learning experience, and that the better solution might be to stay mum about a game’s features until they know for sure that those features will actually happen.
    I stand by this isn’t the major issue here. If you tell people, you hope to do something, most are actually smart enough to realise that’s just a hope and it may never happen.

    On the other hand when you tell people constantly right up to launch about why your product is ‘like no other’ due to the amazing core design (the universe simulation) – and then that turns out to be complete crap… Well that’s just lying from the start, nothing to do with talking about features that ‘didn’t make the final cut’

    Edit: The fact that Sony PR never stepped in to stop Murray/HG makes me think either they really didn’t care (hey it’s still money in their pocket right?) or they didn’t really play the game pre-launch.

    • I dunno, I know in some games they’ve been pretty hands off about letting indies work, and Sony really only handled marketing. They had some really nice banners and those 5 pillars videos were good, but still kinda misrepresented it as an action game. It’s pretty hard to sell quiet landscapes, I guess.

      Most misapprehensions of the game come from Sean Murray interviews. No one can stop someone else who isn’t even an employee from running their mouths. But even on launch it looked like it could have been everything everyone was hoping for. Then you sit down to play it for a few hours and it’s revealed to be kinda shallow.

      I guess what I’m saying is , whose job would it be to sit down, play the game, then tell Sean Murray to shutup because sprinkled through his interviews were a few inaccuracies?

      (Note: I actually enjoyed my time with it,)

  • I still liked it ….. but I never got on the hype train. I’ve got around 20 hours, so for me it beats the “movie price test” and I never really felt ripped off.

    If you followed all the marketing and press surrounding the game, I can see why some people felt disappointed.

  • Open up a chate request instead of the default refund policy. I had to quote our consumers guarantees act in New Zealand citing that features that were promised were not actually in the game and eventually got a credit on my steam account.

  • “First outing” or not, these guys are not just developers, they’re gamers too and they know EXACTLY how false promises pay out. Sean Murray promised things like “base building” in several of his demos, stating testers tended to create a base when the planet got hard, that they would come back to said base. Turns out later, what he actually meant was “players like to deform the terrain and make a hole where they can escape the enviromental conditions”. While it might not have been an intentional mislead, it does however create a very different picture to what players could have reasonably expected. This is just one example, not to mention the whole “players cant see each other even though we said it was possible and then refused to comment when it turns out they can’t”
    Lets hope with all the new found success of No Mans Sky that they hire a PR person to vet Sean’s comments and give him scripts when he’s on camera 😉

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