No Man’s Sky has been on shaky ground since launching in August 2016 on PC and PlayStation 4. Controversial marketing and claims that the game’s Steam page misled consumers prompted the involvement of the UK Advertising Standards Authority. In November 2016, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled against these claims. But the die was already cast. Mixed reviews and an angry player-base seemingly sunk any chances developer Hello Games had of rebuilding towards the future. Nearly two years and several updates later, things are looking better for both the game and the studio.
Next week, coinciding with No Man’s Sky’s Xbox One release, the game will receive its biggest update yet. The NEXT update, which is free of charge, changes the experience entirely. Honestly, NEXT has all the makings of a sequel. In an interview with GamesRadar, creative director Sean Murray, who was at the center of much of the controversy, discusses this and more.
Murray addresses the interviews he took part in, many of which exist at the nexus of what’s construed as misleading advertising.
I now understand why publishers talk in such a scripted way! We knew we were working on a polarising game, and while there’s no way to communicate that, I thought we were making it clear that No Man’s Sky was a weird lonely experience. But some people were looking at our trailers and thinking it was Star Wars, when really it’s more like 2001!
Furthermore, Murray admits that it would have been best to maintain silence after the game’s initial reveal.
There was some soul searching after launch… We had to figure out why we make games, and who we make them for. We enjoy doing things that are ambitious and innovative, but we don’t really enjoy talking to the press, and we’re not that good at it either. If I was to go back… that vast amount of time spent talking about the details of the game was never that valuable or necessary. We could have just shown the first trailer at the VGX Awards [in 2013] and disappeared until release.
For the last couple of years, Hello Games has followed this through, working in secret and only speaking publicly when necessary. The show don’t tell approach, thus far, works wonders for them. According to Murray, the team has never been happier. “It’s lovely to work in secret. There’s a freedom in being able to try new ideas for the game with no one ever knowing, without any of that outside pressure.”
Hello Games’ hard work isn’t finished yet, either. There’s still more the team hopes to accomplish with No Man’s Sky. Therefore, the NEXT update is likely just one of many to come. Murray continues,
One day I will feel that No Man’s Sky is finished, but I don’t feel like that at the moment. I’m more excited now than ever before as, for me, it feels like a really different game. There’s still loads of stuff we want to add, and I never thought we’d feel that way as a studio, two years on from No Man’s Sky’s release. Hello Games has learnt a lot and has built up so much more experience just in terms of our team and our skill sets; there’s so much that we can do now that we’ve found our groove.
No Man’s Sky NEXT goes live July 24.