During an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, head of Hello Games, Sean Murray discussed the launch of the space exploration game, No Man’s Sky and what it was like to turn things around after the game’s initial reaction. If you’re unfamiliar, No Man’s Sky was a victim of tremendous hype, misleading marketing, and an inexperienced developer when it came to discussing the game prior launch. As you might know, the game was controversial upon release, disappointing many fans, due to the expectations set by the marketing. But, nearly three years later, Hello Games redeemed itself, going above and beyond with improvements, expansions, fixes, and more.
After No Man’s Sky released, the team was hit hard with negative criticisms. Because of this, the developers at Hello Games went radio silent for a long time, quietly working on everything that was initially promised that didn’t make it in the day-one version.
During the interview, Murray said:
As a naïve studio, we definitely got excited about our game, people got excited, and we talked about it way too early. When you’re an indie studio working hard to survive, the one thing that doesn’t cross your mind is, ‘People are too excited about my game.’ We are in the lucky position where we can be more cautious in future, and we will be. We will be much more understanding of the difference between talking excitedly about your game and marketing it, which is never something we’d ever really done before.
We knew it was going to be polarizing, we knew that wasn’t going to be an experience for everyone. When we released No Man’s Sky–and, in fact, when we first started talking about it–I thought we were making a pretty niche game, and I continued to think that for a long time. A lot of the design decisions we made were for a niche game. It turned out to be a really large niche.
In 2019, Hello Games has turned No Man’s Sky around tremendously, even announcing a VR version of the game for later in 2019.
A lot can be learned from the development, marketing, and launch of No Man’s Sky. Ultimately, everything worked out for the studio, but not without some hurdles. It just goes to show how important it is to properly market a product before its release.
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