UPDATED: Since the release of this article No Man’s Sky has been brought into the spotlight once again by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK. When first publishing this article we mentioned the deceitful marketing by Sony. Now it seems others have taken issue with what many have seen all along. To clarify this is just a probe and no wrong doing has been found yet. Let this be a lesson to game companies and publishers to have better dialogue with fans of what their product actually is. Fancy trailers are nice but in the end gamers want a good game. Who knew.
Original post: published sept 13, 2016
No Man’s Sky is a direct result of marketing gone wrong. Doing his best Peter Molyneux impression, Sean Murray co founder of Hello Games buried his game from the start. The marketing was deceitful and did not represent the game accurately. Now that’s not to say it deserves all the backlash, but they do deserve some. I don’t know Sean Murray but I believe that he never intentionally exaggerated the scope of what No Man’s Sky would be. Games are complicated endeavors with millions of lines of code not to mention art work, production costs etc. The marketing by Sony also contributed heavily to players disdain. Though everything seen in that trailer is possible the intersecting cuts made the game appear to be far more action oriented. Whereas those moments are spread out considerably.
Some of the most recent memories of over promising and under delivering have been at the hands of the aforementioned Peter Molyneux. Promising grandiose claims in Fable and then issuing an apology to fans when those visions could not come to fruition. The core of the issue comes down to marketing a game long before it is actually available. Sean Murray at the time most likely believed he would be able to incorporate all the features he was stating. But nowhere was it a written contract that these features would be final. The best way to determine a product is through peer reviews and if you can, rent a game and for pete’s sake stop pre ordering games!!!! Publishers do everything they can to incentivize gamers to purchase a product that is sometimes years away from release. Many of those who pre-ordered No Man’s Sky were disappointed because the product they got was not the one they had pre ordered months, perhaps a year before. Misleading trailers before launch exacerbated the issue. Showing a universe filled with life when you spend much of the game wandering alone. My problem with the game was not being alone, it was the utter crushing repetition.
Despite the issues with Fable and No Man’s Sky we should not want people like Sean Murray and Peter Molyneux to change. People like them create amazing experiences and pour their heart and souls into projects. They truly want to deliver revolutionary experiences. In the days of samey shooters, developers; especially indie developers need to explore their creative freedoms and not be held back for fear of backlash. No Man’s Sky is not a bad game. Their were some truly awe inspiring moments, like fixing your ship and leaving orbit for the first time, or fighting space pirates hot on your tail. Was it what we all wanted it to be? No. But that a liar does not make. Just an over ambitious guy who wanted to make a killer game for people to enjoy. The Fable games were not bad games, and if you’ve never played them definitely try them out if you can. With less marketing hype, revealing games closer to launch (like Fallout 4) and open dialogue from developers it can help create more positive experiences.