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Author Topic: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky  (Read 2964 times)

BenRG

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Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« on: 28 Sep 2016, 23:34 »

Well, I suppose it was bound to happen eventually but, from what I gather, this was a more egregious example than most. Indie developer Hello Games and Valve, operator of the Steam site, are being investigated by Britain's Advertising Standards Agency over allegations that No Man's Sky's "promotional materials do not accurately represent the game experience".

I know that there is a lot of anger that Hello Games apparently cut a huge amount of promised content and features from the release version of No Man's Sky and that a lot of players think that they've been charged $60 for a $30 game. I also know that Hello Games didn't earn any friends by publicly musing that this promised content may only be available (should it ever become available) as premium paid-for DLC rather than as a free patch. I also know that Sony (the game's publisher) have gently criticised them for over-promising features and seem to be hanging them out to dry by saying they had nothing to do with it.

What can the ASA do? As I understand it, not that much although they could apparently order any search engine operating in Britain (including giants like Google) not to link to Steam until they removed the offending materials from their site. That alone could be an earthquake. However, they could easily pass the file onto other regulators that might possibly fine Valve for knowingly publishing inaccurate adverts. This could be considered a green light for lawsuits in the far larger US market, where Steam's revised refund policy over NMS is raising the temperature in many a gamer's bedroom.

So, what does this mean to gamers out there? Will the furore over No Man's Sky lead to a new level of caution and honesty in game marketing materials or will the industry throw Hello Games under a bus and claim that they were unrepresentative bad apples before going on to continue to make cinematic CGI trailers with "Not Real In-Game Footage" in tiny lettering at the bottom of the screen?
« Last Edit: 29 Sep 2016, 00:07 by BenRG »
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pwhodges

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Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #1 on: 28 Sep 2016, 23:57 »

Here's a working link.

they could apparently order any search engine operating in Britain (including giants like Google) not to link to Steam until they removed the offending materials from their site.

I think that relates only to paid-for result placement, which is a form of advertising:
Quote
The ASA has the power to have advertisements it believes are in breach of its code of conduct withdrawn, and prevent them from appearing again. If an advertiser refuses to comply with an ASA ruling, it can impose sanctions, such as asking internet search websites to remove a marketer's paid-for search ads.
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BenRG

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Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #2 on: 29 Sep 2016, 03:31 »

FWIW, I suspect that Hello were planning an 'Elite: Dangerous'-style development strategy. The initial release would be the basic game (exploration, world-generation engine and the basic alien interactions) and they would start slotting in the other stuff (factions, faction-based quests, advanced ship & suit customisation, the Atlas quest thread actually meaning something and maybe even player-to-player sight and interaction) as either free patches for small stuff or as paid DLC for the big things as and when it finished the development cycle.

However, I think Sean Murray got too excited and couldn't communicate correctly or clearly what was on offer in release 1.0 verses the future plans for the game. This has cost the game a huge amount of goodwill and may end up its epitaph, as well as that of Hello Games as it currently exists.
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Neko_Ali

Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #3 on: 29 Sep 2016, 06:14 »

I don't think what we've seen backs this theory up though. When you look at interviews he keeps talking about things they were working on that never made it to the game. To be honest, it feels more like Peter Molyneux level of stuff than anything else to me. Just keep saying stuff that you are working on will be in the game, then releasing said game with a lot of those features cut. Molyneux gets a pass on it because he's an established figure who is well known for doing this. People know when he talks to believe that about half of what he says will make it into the final product. It's become a guessing game as to what will make it in, and what will be cut.

Sean Murry doesn't have that luxury though. People thought what he said was all going to be included, when he was just talking about what they were working on. And they weren't clear when features were being cut. Possible because they realized it would make them look bad? Not that failing to deliver on what Murray talked about in interviews wasn't shooting themselves in the kneecap. None of this is an excuse for either Molyneux or Murray. They got over excited by things they wanted to put in game, without realizing the situation where not everything they promise can be finished in time.

Their second failing is not communicating what had to be cut for the final release, there by giving a false impression of what was going to be in the game. It was bad marketing and over pricing their product that is killing them and making people angry. The game is perfectly fine for what it is. It just isn't what it was promised it would be, and it's not worth $60. The price to value ratio is just not there. Had they been upfront and cut the price they wouldn't have had this back lash, and they could have spent more time improving the game then dealing with the PR backlash they generated.
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Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #4 on: 29 Sep 2016, 14:47 »

I'm wondering if this will have implications for Star Citizen considering the protracted and drawn out nature of that games development.
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Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #5 on: 02 Oct 2016, 13:19 »

I don't think what we've seen backs this theory up though. When you look at interviews he keeps talking about things they were working on that never made it to the game. To be honest, it feels more like Peter Molyneux level of stuff than anything else to me. Just keep saying stuff that you are working on will be in the game, then releasing said game with a lot of those features cut. Molyneux gets a pass on it because he's an established figure who is well known for doing this. People know when he talks to believe that about half of what he says will make it into the final product. It's become a guessing game as to what will make it in, and what will be cut.

IIRC, there's one interview where Murray was asked about the probability of meeting other players and he hesitates ever so slightly ... so I'm not so sure about it being just over-exitement.

I got cautious at "procedurally generated worlds", since the background engine in Elite-Dangerous has been a red flag in the community for ages - it's simply really, really hard to have such a humongous open world and to then fill it with meaningful, non-repetitive content.

In the end, it doesn't make much difference for the customer if the product fails to deliver on promise because the Dev was over-exited, or jaded.

And while ED also has this "developing DLC in pieces"-shit going on, you quickly see they are really committed to perfecting their Universe and adding content, even between "Seasons".
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Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #6 on: 11 Oct 2016, 04:45 »

Well, I suppose it was bound to happen eventually but, from what I gather, this was a more egregious example than most. Indie developer Hello Games and Valve, operator of the Steam site, are being investigated by Britain's Advertising Standards Agency over allegations that No Man's Sky's "promotional materials do not accurately represent the game experience".

I know that there is a lot of anger that Hello Games apparently cut a huge amount of promised content and features from the release version of No Man's Sky and that a lot of players think that they've been charged $60 for a $30 game. I also know that Hello Games didn't earn any friends by publicly musing that this promised content may only be available (should it ever become available) as premium paid-for DLC rather than as a free patch. I also know that Sony (the game's publisher) have gently criticised them for over-promising features and seem to be hanging them out to dry by saying they had nothing to do with it.

What can the ASA do? As I understand it, not that much although they could apparently order any search engine operating in Britain (including giants like Google) not to link to Steam until they removed the offending materials from their site. That alone could be an earthquake. However, they could easily pass the file onto other regulators that might possibly fine Valve for knowingly publishing inaccurate adverts. This could be considered a green light for lawsuits in the far larger US market, where Steam's revised refund policy over NMS is raising the temperature in many a gamer's bedroom.

So, what does this mean to gamers out there? Will the furore over No Man's Sky lead to a new level of caution and honesty in game marketing materials or will the industry throw Hello Games under a bus and claim that they were unrepresentative bad apples before going on to continue to make cinematic CGI trailers with "Not Real In-Game Footage" in tiny lettering at the bottom of the screen?

Agreed, it was definitely not worth 60$
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BenRG

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Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #7 on: 29 Nov 2016, 06:25 »

NMS v.1.1 has been released at the end of last week and, from what I've seen, the general response from existing players is positive. A lot of graphical glitches have been ironed out along with a a few issues with the procedural generation algorithm for terrain.

The big news is the addition of a building editor and the option to have a heavy transport ship follow you around to carry your excess inventory. Hello Games describes this as a 'foundation' for things to come.

As already noted, the response has been generally positive but most agree that it isn't enough to tempt back those who have uninstalled the game. The consensus is that it certainly is not enough silence their most vocal critics about their lack of communication after the initial release of v.1.0 and for the lack of promised features (including multiplayer, which I'm increasingly thinking may be some kind of bizarre urban myth based on Sean Murray's complete inability to communicate verbally without flashing back to his last trip).
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LTK

Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #8 on: 29 Nov 2016, 09:41 »

Let's face it, nothing will silence their most vocal cricits, short of giving every buyer an actual spaceship. Hell hath no wrath like a gamer scorned.
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Castlerook

Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #9 on: 01 Dec 2016, 07:44 »

The damage has already been done. Right now there are approximately 80,000 reviews for No Man's Sky on Steam and the vast majority of them are "Mostly negative".

No matter what the developers do and create, they've already lost the market. No Man's Sky might be lost in No Man's Land.
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LTK

Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #10 on: 01 Dec 2016, 08:05 »

People might not like it, but the game sold like hotcakes. An angry internet mob bombing the reviews doesn't change that. It may have been a critical failure, but it certainly wasn't a commercial one.
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Neko_Ali

Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #11 on: 01 Dec 2016, 08:55 »

That is the thing though. A lot of those sales were pre-orders based on what people though they were getting from previews and developer interviews.  Where certain features which were said were going to be the game turned out to not be in the final product. A lot of those angry reviews were by people who bought the game, then were disappointed that it wasn't what was promised to them. Which is understandable. I wonder how many people returned the game via Steam.

I also pre-bought the game about a week before release. Had I waited another week, I very well may not have bought it. But they promised a free ship to those who pre-bought. Of course, that ship was barely better than the one you start off in, and got quickly replaced by another, so the pre-purchase reward wasn't really worth it either... I don't think the game is as terrible as people say though. I found it more relaxing than similar games, like Elite Dangerous. I don't think it was worth the $60 I paid for it at the time though, and I would rather have got it for half that price and called it fair. However I decided not to return it. It may not have been what I was expecting, but it wasn't bad. It was just.. more suitable to an Early Access title. Now that the update is out, I plan to go back and play it again, so maybe it will turn out worth the price tag in the end.
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Castlerook

Re: Truth in Advertising - No Man's Sky
« Reply #12 on: 01 Dec 2016, 14:00 »

People might not like it, but the game sold like hotcakes. An angry internet mob bombing the reviews doesn't change that. It may have been a critical failure, but it certainly wasn't a commercial one.

I'm not just talking about commercial based success or failure, I'm talking about reputation. This is going to follow Sean Murray and Hello Games for the rest of their careers. This is on a par with John Romero and Daikatana. Its going to take a miracle for them to recover and I sincerely doubt that players are going to give them that chance.

And people have hated the game. A quick check on Steam and maybe 12% of those who bought the game gave it a favourable review, which incidentally is the the lowest score for a major title on Steam. Its already lost pretty much its entire playerbase in the three months following release and the company has already faced legal trouble over its misleading marketing campaign. It certainly hasn't been helped by Valve offering refund tickets based on false advertising, regardless of whether they had played 2 hours or not.

No Man's Sky was a critical failure and already being touted as the biggest gaming flop of the year, one that is going to haunt Hello Games for some time.
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