Gamers were lied to about No Man’s Sky. Prior to its release, prospective consumers were shown a game that only bears a superficial resemblance to the finished product. From as early as 2014, gamers were promised a title that offered a multitude of features that were not present at release, and remain missing to this date. Online multiplayer, large-scale battles, unique ships that catered to different playstyles, and space physics are just a few of the many features that were promised.
Gamers who took to Reddit to vent their frustrations about the title recently found themselves locked out and without a voice when community moderators temporarily shut the place down. In times like these, game journalists serve an important function by lending their voice to the very same consumers who pay their bills.
The game’s lead creator, Sean Murray, even went on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert to drive hype for the game, promising to create a universe as big as the one we actually live in.
When Colbert asked if it was possible to see yourself in the game, Murray responded that the only way to get a sense of how you looked was for somebody else to see you. He responded in the affirmative that it was possible to run into other players, but that it would be unlikely given the size of the universe. To date, the interview has over 1.7 million views on YouTube, not counting whoever watched the segment when it was aired on CBS.
No Man’s Sky is just one of many titles over the past decades that have abused their customers with misleading advertising. One such practice is known as “bullshots,” which consists of doctoring screenshots to make the game look better than it actually is.
As such, gamers were well within their rights to raise the issue with the authorities. After innumerable complaints were lodged, the UK Advertising Standards Authority has opened an investigation into Hello Games for falsely advertising No Man’s Sky.
In response to consumer complaints, Polygon’s Owen Good has taken the odd, but certainly predictable stance of deflecting criticism aimed at Hello Games. Good claims that nowhere in No Man’s Sky’s advertising did the developer ever produce anything even closely resembling a “bullshot,” forgetting perhaps that its creator did far worse by blatantly lying about the features of the game in various interviews.
But holy shit, how many broken pieces of shovelware have gone out the door without the kind of civil claims facing No Man’s Sky? It all feels like people are going to court over a refrigerator’s ice-making capacity, and getting a settlement there, when what’s really bothering them is the fact the appliance clashes with the countertop.
Not content to simply defend the company, Good goes further by falsely painting gamers as people upset over nothing, reducing their complaints to nitpicking about “ship flying behavior” and creature sizes.
Hello Games has a lot to answer for, and the game journalists who side against consumers out of spite or sheer elitism only succeed in failing their very audience.