No Man’s Sky was recently called a mistake in a hacked tweet from the Hello Games Twitter account, and, while disregarded by developers, we can’t help but agree with the statement. As much as we wanted this PS4 and PC game to be the stuff of dreams, here’s why it may be the industry’s biggest mistake of 2016.
1) It Totally Destroyed A Studio: Regardless if development on No Man’s Sky continues or not, it’s completely tarnished the reputation of Hello Games forever. There’s almost no scenario in which this same small group can create another product that’s taken seriously ever again. As a result, we wouldn’t be shocked if everyone involved with so-called Project Skyscraper parted ways fairly soon.
Possibly even more damaged than the studio itself is its fearless leader, Sean Murray. Seen as the propagator of many of No Man’s Sky’s lies, there’s not much room for gamers to welcome him anywhere with open arms. He seems like a nice fellow, but he cracked under pressure and promised too much. Instead of being a résumé booster, No Man’s Sky will forever be observed as an embarrassment for everyone involved. How is that not a mistake?
2) It Created A Continuing Culture Of Lies: It’s no secret that the minds behind No Man’s Sky promised dozens of features that never made it to the final game. Most notably, where was the multiplayer, meaningful factions and large-scale space combat? The spread of misinformation even continues to this day as industry influencer Geoff Keighley and Murray recently agreed to sit down for an interview in October. Alas, that never happened.
As gamers, we often put our trust in studios to deliver something great before it’s been released. We get burned a lot, but few games promised so much and delivered as little as No Man’s Sky. Events like this fuel industry-wide skepticism when we’d rather be believers. Can we trust any creator to truly fulfill their promise? In a post-No Man’s Sky world, doubt is everywhere. Its legacy could harm the industry for good.
3) It Sparked Probes With Actual Results: Because No Man’s Sky didn’t feature everything shown in its screenshots, a U.K. advertising board investigated Hello Games and Steam for claims of false promotion.
Load up on zinc in No Man’s Sky to help your life support last much longer
Angry gamers make threats all the time, but these came with actual results. It’s unclear precisely what the conclusion of the probe was, but it certainly spawned some changes inside Steam. Just days ago, Valve announced a new policy that strengthens the accuracy of how games are promoted. Storefront representatives have begun cracking down on “bullshots” with some fairly strict penalties for the foreseeable future. There’s little doubt that the No Man’s Sky probe influenced the new policy in some way. When a game is under investigation and allegations are validated, that’s quite the mistake.
4) It Festered The Worst Internet Turmoil: Even prior to its release, No Man’s Sky debates gave rise to some of the most vicious and spiteful internet conversations of 2016. On one side, ardent defenders deflected any and all criticism with all manners of insults. Sites that posted negative reviews were targeted by DDoS attacks and fans even sent death threats to Sean Murray after the title had been delayed to August.
The naysayers, of course, massed in full effect once the final product was available. In fact, conversations became so toxic that the game’s own subreddit was temporarily shut down. Gamers debate things constantly, but No Man’s Sky brought out the unprecedented worst in a subset of us. That’s just shameful.
5) It Just Wasn’t Good: Maybe the biggest crime committed by No Man’s Sky is that it just wasn’t a good game. Our own review of the title offered the same middling praise as most other outlets. Currently, its Metacritic press score is 71 out of 100 with a user score of just 4.5 out of 10.
Those numbers could certainly be a lot worse, but they’re not exactly fitting of a game that promised players a “limitless” universe of 18 quintillion planets to discover. We expected so much more. The fact that it offered just enough to be an OK experience was largely insulting. As gamers, we love great games. No Man’s Sky was not a great game because of the promotional and social mistakes it made.
No Man’s Sky is available now on PS4 and PC.
Do you think No Man’s Sky was the games industry’s biggest mistake of 2016? Could its backlash be avoided? Tell us in the comments section!