No Man’s Sky is more or less dead. Sean Murray and crew haven’t said a peep about it in over a month now. The one exception being a “development update,” that really didn’t say much at all. The player base has seen significant drop-off. While that decline is normal for any game, No Man’s Sky’s drop has been more drastic. Amid the complaining and demanding of refunds, the UK government has decided to step in. Specifically, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ASA is investigating discrepancies between what is in the game and how the game is advertised in a trailer shown on Steam. The scope of what the ASA can do for gamers who have already purchased the game is limited however. The ASA can only tell the offending party that the advert used to sell their product is misleading and suggest it be taken down and never be shown again. Should the developer, in this case Hello Games, not comply and remove said advertisements then the ASA can impose sanctions like asking search sites like google to remove any paid for ads of the product.
The ASA isn’t commenting. However, they did send out an email to a complainant, AzzerUK, on reddit which highlights:
- Ship flying behaviour (in formation; with a ‘wingman’; flying close to the ground)
- Large-scale space combat
- Flowing water
- Size of creatures
Just to name a few. AzzerUK said he sent out the email because:
“The marketing of the game was very different to the end game. The end game is a shallow screenshot generator, and in some ways it reminded me of Spore.
“I figured that if we want Steam store pages for games to start falling in-line and stop misleading consumers, then it would take consumers to point these problems out to the ASA, rather than all sit around on Reddit complaining to each other but assuming that it’ll all get sorted by itself eventually.”
The investigation seems to mainly be targeting the Steam store adverts, but mentions the PS4 store page as well.
The argument of whether or not we as consumers were lied to at this point has been done to death. You can no longer deny that, while some of what was expected was ridiculous, we were lied to about certain things. In fact, Sony’s President of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, had this to say in an interview with Eurogamer:
“I understand some of the criticisms especially [Hello Games’ Founder] Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one. It wasn’t a great PR strategy…”
Are there fans of No Man’s Sky? There is undoubtedly an appeal to the space exploration game. Many have found it therapeutic and calming. Claiming that the quiet space travel and relatively calm planetary exploration provide a mental break from the often chaotic real world. But, we don’t need another opinion piece or review on the topic. That’s a dead horse.
While the ASA’s investigation will have no real impact on anyone in the US, it could serve as a base for a false advertising suit. After all, it would be pretty hard to not see a case here when another governing agency has said there were deceptive claims in the adverts.
What do you geeks think? Is this all for naught, or will this help set a standard on how companies, even small indie ones, manage their PR? And what’s with the radio silence from Sean Murray and Co.? If anything, this lack of communication is the biggest reason so many are disgruntled. I mean, not even an apology or acknowledgement that things just aren’t possible at the moment, or that they’re working on them. Anything would go a long way to restoring what little faith they can.