Hello Games Fails To Manage No Man’s Sky Fan Expectations
I genuinely feel bad for Hello Games. They’ve become pariahs in the games industry for releasing an over-hyped game that utterly failed to meet expectations. But given what was No Man’s Sky was “supposed” to be, what could even come close? And who could have seen this coming from a mile off?
Well, it turns out I wrote about No Man’s Sky exactly two years ago, right here at Bitter Empire. Here’s what I said then:
This game was really exciting about a year ago. But there’s not really anything here that shows development from where it was back then. No Man’s Sky is promising an awful lot – a universe to explore that’s procedurally generated down to the atom. But this is starting to feel suspiciously like another title that’s overpromised on what the studio can actually deliver. We’ve had no information about the in-game systems, player goals, or moment-to-moment gameplay. A year after its initial reveal, that’s worrisome.
No meaningful information about the game was revealed after the date of that writing, and by the time the game finally launched in August, fans’ idea of what the game was going to be had expanded to occupy the entire idea space created by Hello Games’ hints at what No Man’s Sky actually was. The result was disastrous. No Man’s Sky was a game about hopping from planet to planet while gathering resources to fuel your ship. What it had become in the minds of fans was a galaxy-spanning everything game that provided a persistent universe and allowed players to meet each other and explore together in an endless world they would help create by the mere act of finding.
Instead of pumping the brakes on this hype train, Hello Games’ approach to this pre-launch phenomenon was to do absolutely nothing. Creator Sean Murray gave mixed messages in the few interviews he granted leading up to the game’s launch, telling Game Informer in 2014 that people should stop thinking of No Man’s Sky as a multiplayer game, but in the same interview saying that players would show up on each others’ maps. After the game’s launch, and after two players demonstrated that you could arrive at the same position in the game and not find each other, Murray went radio silent.
The silence continued throughout the game’s troubled launch all the way through November, when Murray announced a major patch to the game, called the Foundation Update, that added features like base-building. But by then, the damage was done. Many players angrily sought refunds, and No Man’s Sky has been listed as one of the year’s biggest gaming disappointments.