The hype machine around No Man’s Sky was insane. Appearances on Sony’s stage at E3 and on Late Show with Stephen Colbert sent the hype machine into overdrive. You can’t blame gamers for thinking the game was going to be huge with appearances like that.
Is that fair? It doesn’t matter. Perception is often reality. If we see a game on Late Night TV or at Sony’s E3 conference, we are going to hold it to a higher standard than other indie games.
Many gamers felt that Hello Games’ Sean Murray promised features that didn’t feel fully realized or were left out in the full game.
Eurogamer caught up with Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, at TGS to get his thoughts.
“I understand some of the criticisms especially Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one,” said Yoshida.
“It wasn’t a great PR strategy, because he didn’t have a PR person helping him, and in the end he is an indie developer. But he says their plan is to continue to develop No Man’s Sky features and such, and I’m looking forward to continuing to play the game.”
Some might think Yoshida is tossing Murray under the bus. He isn’t. He’s just telling it like it is. Murray over promised and under delivered. It happens. Where Murray is messing up is not constantly talking with the game’s fans on social media. He hasn’t tweeted since August 18th. And the last update from the official website was on September 2nd.
No Man’s Sky always seemed like a game with tons of ambition. Hell, too much ambition. What Hello Games should have done is hired a PR person as soon as they started unveiling the game on Sony’s E3 stage. Or, offloaded the PR to Sony.
It’s a good lesson for any developer. And it’s not just a lesson only learned by indie developers. Ubisoft saw a similar backlash with the first Watch Dogs. The game was revealed way too early and saw massive graphics downgrades by the time it released. Look at how Ubisoft handled Watch Dogs 2. It’ll barely be six months between reveal and release date.
Hello Games can fix this. Plenty of games have started out rough, only to become huge hits. Diablo 3 is the perfect example of a game that turned itself around big time. No Man’s Sky can be Diablo 3. But it’s going to take a lot of work and communication from Hello Games and Sean Murray.