It’s no secret No Man’s Sky got off to a rough start at launch. This led to developer Hello Games hunkering down, maintaining radio silence for several months, then returning with a massive update. Since then, it’s been off to the races. No Man’s Sky continues to experience success after success, as new content still generates excitement. Hello Games’ continued support of the title has no doubt increased its audience. The support keeps players around for longer periods of time, too. According to Creative Director Sean Murray, the average player’s playtime in No Man’s Sky has pretty much doubled since its summer 2016 release.
Murray touched on the average playtime during a recent interview with PCGamesN. Apparently, the typical person only put 25 hours of playtime into No Man’s Sky during the launch period. The average takes into consideration those who only played for about an hour or so on average, as well as players who explored the game world for more than 50 hours. Murray explained,
We tended to skew very high with some people. They played it like it was their forever game, for hundreds of hours. That became a metric that we started to really care about. Not that we want people to be playing our game for ages, but we don’t have very many classic, traditional gameplay loops in the game that entice people along. They are playing it because they enjoy it, they want to see the next planet or whatever it is.
Interestingly, the average playtime metric “really motivates” Hello Games, influencing how the team tackles development of new updates. The players currently enjoying NEXT, the update that launched in 2018, are spending an average of 45 hours or so with the game. Murray told PCGamesN,
The person who’s buying the game, buying NEXT, generally plays the game for about 45 hours on average. Which is a really high number in terms of an average. There are very few games that I play in a year that are played for like 40 or 50 hours, so we’re happy with that.
During the interview, the Creative Director also addressed what has players hooked for so long. What are most people spending the vast majority of their time doing in No Man’s Sky? In addition to exploring, players seem to revel in base-building, too.
According to Murray, base-building counts as “the second biggest thing that people spend their time doing.” Unsurprisingly, this encourages others to explore, which Murray said the team couldn’t have anticipated. “You get this neat thing where people land on planets, and what they’re really hoping for is, has somebody been here before and has somebody built something?”
It should be interesting to see if and how any of these metrics will change once the next major update, Beyond, finally goes live, which will include VR support for No Man’s Sky. For now, Beyond lacks a firm release date; however, a recent listing for classification in Australia seems to suggest it could be on its way sooner rather than later.
No Man’s Sky is out now for the PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One.