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by Paul Tassi via Forbes Two months after the release of No Man’s Sky, Hello Games seems to be doing everything it possibly can to enshrine the fact that their game is going to be hated well into the future. Their total, eerie silence regarding both the issues with the released game, what it did and didn’t deliver, as well […]
Two months after the release of No Man’s Sky, Hello Games seems to be doing everything it possibly can to enshrine the fact that their game is going to be hated well into the future. Their total, eerie silence regarding both the issues with the released game, what it did and didn’t deliver, as well as no clear indication of future plans, is cementing the legacy of the troubled title in a way that’s simply a master class in how to not handle a post-launch crisis.
While No Man’s Sky is its own unique sort of problem, we see troubled video game launches all the time, from the Error 37 days of Diablo 3 to The Division’s garbage endgame to Pokémon GO’s server meltdowns. Fans were angry about a host of issues from missing features to in-game bugs, and each time, the developer in question has had to work to rebuild trust with their respective communities by 1) communicating and 2) actually fixing the problems.
No Man’s Sky has done neither of these things to point where it’s getting downright strange that Hello Games seems content to let the game and its angry fans fester.
Sean Murray, the man behind the curtain, has not tweeted since Aug. 18, doubly problematic given that his account also acts as the official No Man’s Sky Twitter account. Hello Games itself has only communicated in the form of a few brief updates, the last of which was Sept. 2, and the last addition to the game was a minor bug-squashing patch released Sept. 23.
What we have not heard from Hello Games or Murray is a substantive response to the deafening criticism of the game, which many believe did not deliver what it promised, at best, or was deliberately misleading, at worst.
While it’s true that No Man’s Sky was this mutated, twisted bubble of hype where fans, the press, and Sony all helped fan the flames, Hello Games is really now the only one that can answer for the final product. And their decision is to provide exactly no answers at all.
The type of screenshot that got us where we are today (Phto: Hello Games)
In all these other examples, we see developers specifically seeking out channels to communicate with fans. I remember Blizzard trying to explain the logic behind Diablo 3’s auction house, or more recently, Niantic has learned that radio silence is a bad thing, and has now started telegraphing future Pokémon GO plans and updates regularly. Destiny and The Division have essentially crowdsourced feedback from fans to try and improve their games, explaining themselves in weekly updates and showing future content in livestreams.
Perhaps two months post-launch is a bit early to hope for some of this stuff, but with no explanation about why the game didn’t meet expectations, and no indication of what exactly is being added to the game in the future in order to fix fan complaints, the hope for a possible resurgence of No Man’s Sky is quickly waning. I remember when the game first launched and everyone believed that a year later, it would be totally transformed with all the missing features Hello Games just didn’t have time to put in. But the longer this goes on, the less I think that’s possible.
What exactly is happening right now? Two theories:
Hello Games has their heads down and is working on a giant update for the game that will drop at some unspecified point before the holiday. Given how much their day one patch added to the game, this seems possible. They’re not talking because they know how much trouble talking got them in ahead of the game’s launch.
The team is working on stuff, but the silence and lack of updates signifies significant demoralization after the release of the game and the excruciatingly harsh feedback from critics and fans (review bombing has now made No Man’s Sky one of the worst rated games on Steam).
While Hello Games does have some explaining to do, I hope they can come back from this. The problem is that each day they remain completely silent, that plays into the idea that they just “took the money and ran” with big upfront No Man’s Sky sales, and no explanations about the failings of the product, or their plans for it thereafter.
You just really don’t see this in gaming that often other than with unknown Steam Greenlight publishers. Many, many developers and games have suffered through rough launches and bad first impressions, but the difference being that nearly all of them at least tried to explain what was going on, and attempted to continue supporting the game for a while after. But No Man’s Sky fans have literally nothing to go on. No reasons for why the game was a let-down, and no real indication that things might get better in the future, other than vague, months-ago promises about things like base-building.
Yes, No Man’s Sky is one of the most controversial releases of the year, but Hello Games’ response to the crisis after launch is only making things worse, and what exactly the company is thinking or doing now is anyone’s guess. If they want a second chance, they have to earn it, but so far they don’t seem like they even care.
As of this writing, Hello Games has not returned our request for comment.
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