No Man’s Sky advertising complaint not upheld by ASA

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has decided not to uphold the complaints against No Man’s Sky’s Steam page. The regulatory body announced they were investigating the complaints in September but after consultation with both Valve and developers Hello Games they’re satisfied that the trailers, screenshots and text desriptions on the game’s Steam page did not breach the advertising code. I am not entirely satisfied.

No Man’s Sky has disappointed a lot of people since its release and the ASA received complaints from 23 people “who believed that some of the game content was not as depicted or described, [and] challenged whether the ad was misleading.”

The ruling, which you can read in full here, details at length both Valve and Hello Games response to the complaints, the evidence they provided to counter them, and the ASAs resulting decisions on each point of complaint. It concludes:

Taking into account the above points, we considered that the overall impression of the ad was consistent with gameplay and the footage provided, both in terms of that captured by Hello Games and by third parties, and that it did not exaggerate the expected player experience of the game. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.

The complaints about No Man’s Sky were broad, including the game’s ship flying behaviour, apparent lack of large-scale space battles, inability to fly close to the ground, animal AI behaviour, the speed of galaxy warp and loading times, and more. We covered some of our own disappointments with the game here, though many of us still enjoyed playing it.

Hello Games response was therefore equally as lengthy, as detailed in the ASA ruling linked above. You might not have time to read all of it, but it begins by saying that Hello Games explained procedural generation and that:

Hello Games said that, as each user’s experience would be very different, it would be difficult to recreate the exact scenes from the ad. However, they believed it was fairly straightforward to locate content of the type shown in the ad and to demonstrate that such content was commonly experienced by all users who played NMS for an average period of time. They stated that all material features from the ad that had been challenged by complainants appeared in the NMS universe in abundance. While each player experienced different parts of the NMS universe, there was a low probability that anyone playing the game as intended would fail to encounter all these features in some form within an average play-through.

ASAs assessment of the complaint therefore begins:

The ad contained several screenshots and two different video trailers for the game, as well as a text description. We understood that, as NMS was procedurally generated, player experiences would vary according to what material was generated in their play-through. The summary description of the game made clear that it was procedurally generated, that the game universe was essentially infinite, and that the core premise was exploration. As such, we considered consumers would understand the images and videos to be representative of the type of content they would encounter during gameplay, but would not generally expect to see those specific creatures, landscapes, battles and structures. We therefore considered whether the game and footage provided by Hello Games contained gameplay material of a sufficiently similar type to that depicted in the ad.

The rest of the assessment continues in the same vein: although elements from the trailer were not present in the game, “similar” elements were, or the elements were considered too minor to mislead. For example, “The footage provided did not show a ship flying underneath a rock formation, as in one of the videos, and we had been unable to replicate similar behaviour in the game. However, this was a brief shot within a wider sequence and we did not consider that, in the context of the ad as a whole, this was likely to mislead.” Or, “With regard to the claim ‘factions vie over territory’, we considered that consumers would understand from this that more than one faction would be present in the game, holding specific territory, and that there would be aspects of the game relating to tensions over territories and faction activities.”

This feels to me like there’s a gap between the knowledge of people who regularly play games and the knowledge of the regulators at the Advertising Standards Authority, and the resultant expectations that are created when seeing No Man’s Sky’s trailers and screenshots. The “factions vie over territory” line, for example, seems likely to create an expectation of shifting galactic control in the minds of people who are familiar with similarly dynamic systems in other games, rather than the mere presence of different factions, brief conversations with them, or consequence-free battles.

The same seems true of the procedural generation and animal behaviour. Players see creatures moving like herds in in-game trailers and, because it’s unusual and complex behaviour, expect more than random scampering and individual animals fleeing from larger animals. Players see long-necked dinosaurs in the E3 trailer and their scale makes them as unusual, cementing them in the player’s mind as something specific to look forward to rather than the smaller, “similar” dinosaur-ish creatures found in the eventual game. It seems unlikely that the existence of these features would have satisfied players who did not enjoy the experience of playing No Man’s Sky, but in the context of existing games and our knowledge of them, the trailers and screenshots do seem more misleading than ASA have decided.

The ASA measure advertising against the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing, or CAP code, which is available online here. In this instance No Man’s Sky was investigated under rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration), which you can find here, and it was these specific rules that the game’s advertising was found not in breach.

For their part, Valve are said to have responded to the complaint by arguing that, “Developers were responsible for the content of their games, marketing materials describing the games (including screenshots, narratives and videos),” and that “neither Valve nor Steam wrote marketing copy for games hosted on the service.” They also mentioned their refund policy, which allows customers to refund games “that had been played for less than two hours in the first 14 days after purchase.”

Though No Man’s Sky does not contain many elements players were expecting prior to the game’s release, Hello Games are continuing to update it. They released their first major content addition last weekend, adding base building among much more.

From this site

109 Comments

  1. Hoot says:

    Best Steam review for the game :-

    No Man’s Sky

    One Man’s Lie

    Please Don’t Buy

    Fin

    (I’ve shared this once before but felt the need to mention it here because it’s by far the funniest review for the game I’ve read. If it mentioned the amount of boredom the game generates it would also be the most accurate.)

    • AnonymousREX says:

      Actually, I’ve had the game since launch and while SONY was the main reason the release date was pushed on HG and the game released a lil early. But this was not the reason all these morons were butt hurt over the game they could have easily returned(on PC at least, PS4 can suck it). All these hating butt hurt assholes over hyped this game along with gaming media outlets to such extraordinary standards the game was NEVER going to satisfy you lot of idiots. Sincerely, common fucking sense to the unjustified self-entitled gamer douche. This whole article is biased as fuck, and just plain wrong. That whole lawsuit was frivolous and a direct result of all these over imaginative idiots who wanted revenge because they had a perfect lil image in their heads that not even the actual game release could shake out.

      • Hoot says:

        1) Swearing and calling people names doesn’t make you look clever. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of that.

        2) When a guy directly says “the only way for you to know what you look like is for another player to tell you”, common sense demands that you take that to mean the game is live multiplayer. It actually isn’t. And no one said anything about that until AFTER release.

        3) It’s funny how hard you’re trying to justify your purchase. Relax, bro. If you like the game, good for you. As a consumer with as much say as anyone else that bought the game, I happen to think it’s the equivalent of a digital turd.

        • Danley says:

          I sincerely believe the exceptional outrage over No Man’s Sky was because of the omission of multiplayer. I have no doubt that the reason 200,000+ people jumped on the game early on was the prospect of finding each other with this peculiar mechanic of unidentified travelers leaving subtle markers in hopes another player might stumble upon them. Or that the game would eventually feature even more robust means of networking in what might otherwise become a vast and lonely universe.

          I admit that with the 1.1 update I’ve been hauling ass to the center of the galaxy after spending ~80 hours just exploring a few dozen planets in a handful of star clusters, 200,000ly from the center, when there didn’t seem to be any point in finding other players’ discoveries.

          All that said, and though it doesn’t necessarily excuse the months of advertising that suggested otherwise, this is an unequivocally false claim that should not still be floating around this long after launch:

          “2) When a guy directly says “the only way for you to know what you look like is for another player to tell you”, common sense demands that you take that to mean the game is live multiplayer. It actually isn’t. And no one said anything about that until AFTER release.”

          You’re right. That does sound like that, and on more than one occasion they talked about it as if it would be possible to see each other’s player models, and in doing so potentially explore the galaxy together. Because there is a giant gaping hole in the market for a true exploration and construction MMO. Not just Minecraft and company on private servers, but a big, giant MMO server where most of the map is unknown and people can all migrate to the same watering holes while battling over the frontier. The fact that Microsoft hasn’t yet engineered this with Minecraft is mind-boggling. Whoever does it first (Star Citizen perhaps?) will have the most successful game ever made, I’m calling it. Because Snow Crash is almost 25 years old, and there are probably older stories about virtual reality I don’t know about. There are people out there with PhDs who were born after virtual reality was recognized as the logical manifestation of ‘cyberspace.’ For whatever reason that has yet to happen. (*cough* WallStreet/CityofLondonprintedsomuchmoneyforthemselvestheydestroyeditsvalue *cough*)

          But Sean Murray and Hello Games did not say this was a multiplayer game until “AFTER release.” Nor did they advertise it as such on any of the marketplaces. The one mysterious anomaly is the physical copies that were once labeled multiplayer and had stickers put over them. Did they always consider the discovery database a sufficient mechanic to be considered multiplayer at one time? Or even worse, did they engineer a gameplay mechanic that was going to be in the game, but decided it wasn’t economical or sustainable? Either because the game as they released it wasn’t stable enough, because they didn’t think the demand would be great enough, or because ultimately the game they wanted to make was just a peculiar PCG walking simulator in space?

          I like this game as it is (Minecraft and Proteus are in my top five games ever made), but I won’t say I don’t relate to people who are disappointed with what it could have been. I just don’t think Hello Games went out looking to make that game, and don’t think they had the resources to do it even if they wanted to — or if 250,000+ people with $60 wanted them to.

          We want to go to the moon, as JFK said, for the same reason we climb the highest mountain, fly the Atlantic, or play football. He even said “we choose to” because there were a few moments in time when we did that. For many layered economic and political reasons, we don’t choose to do that now, just as we don’t choose to make a singular, persistent, virtual space. We hoped Hello Games would, but it didn’t happen, and a lot of people took it out on them.

          (Edit: Good lord I’ve been writing a lot about this subject. Anyone know of any forums dedicated to No Man’s Sky from this perspective, of an indicator of people’s interest in virtual frontiers we can explore together?)

  2. forddent says:

    Article Continues Below

  3. manio22 says:

    Gap of knowledge is putting it mildly. Feels like a chasm to me. In what procedural generated rock they live under?

  4. PiiSmith says:

    I guess at least “some people” here, will be happy with this judgement. (Please note that I hold no grudge against anyone posting content here.)
    I did not buy NMS and I am not planning to, but I do find this disappointing. The videos shown were actually clearly similar to the actual gameplay, but clearly showed features, which were not existent in the product. Those videos even were continued to be shown after the release. I am pretty sure that Hello Games knew, that their product was not representatively shown by these old videos. Still they continued to use the them for their Steam store page.

  5. xcession says:

    ASA’s response does read a little like “Hello Games told us it’s all procedural, so who are we to argue?”, which is a bit odd.

    As a consumer protection service its a little concerning that the ASA appear to take the manufacturers word for it so much. Particularly as they don’t appear to understand, and haven’t bothered to investigate, the boundary between what is procedural and what isn’t.

    I bought NMS believing that the devs had successfully cracked creature behaviour and interaction, both with each other and the environment. The trailers suggested they had. In reality they hadn’t, but for me that was a key selling point.

    • Shadow says:

      I agree. It looks like procedural generation became a handy smoke bomb for Hello Games. So yeah, they used a perfect alignment of random elements for their ads, to show the best possible generation, something cosmically improbable yet technically possible. And therefore technically okay despite being immensely controversial.

      Imagine a “smart” Lego set, one whose pieces autonomously yet randomly themselves into random constructions. And they advertise it showing pictures of real constructions built with the same pieces, in excruciating detail. Technically possible, but nowhere near likely that the random pieces would align themselves that way.

      Anyway, advertising should never be the sole factor when deciding a purchase. Gamers should be smarter than that. Every game sells you a perfect experience, and to varying degrees that’s always untrue. As usual, the trick is to do actual research, read a bunch of reviews and make an informed decision mostly detached from over-excited PR campaigns. The first line of consumer protection should be their own senses.

      • Shinard says:

        Honestly, I think it’s worse than that. Incredibly improbably constructions – fine, misleading but still within the bounds of reason. But I’m not sure all the things in the trailer WERE possible to make in the game – the sandworms spring to mind. Has anyone seen anything even remotely similar to that in game? I seriously doubt it is possible to do that in game, and if that’s the case, that’s blatant false advertising.

      • Guzaboo says:

        And what about those that preordered? Should we just have to deal with the fact that we were ripped off? The only thing we learned is to never preorder ever again, but somebody has to play a game first, right?

        • Shadow says:

          Buying something you have no information about other than advertising is reckless, and anyone who preorders has to be mindful of the risk. It’s common sense, and it doesn’t have to be a scenario as extreme as NMS’: games are always sold as if they’re flawless, the best thing since sliced bread, but in truth they’re always less than that, and the possibility of bugs, issues or simply that they won’t turn out as expected always exists.

          As I said, the first line of consumer protection is the consumer’s own senses, given advertising has always been manipulative and misleading. As far as Steam’s concerned, another failsafe’s the fairly recent refund system.

          Hello Games’ practices are most controversial and this resolution disappointing, but just how much external protection do people need from their own carelessness?

        • Kingseeker Camargo says:

          By now people should very well know better than preordering, or they should probably not be allowed to spend money unsupervised.

          If there’s a better advice than: “learn from your mistakes”, that would be “wait, observe, and learn from someone else’s mistakes”.

      • Marr says:

        Every time people argue that HG didn’t *technically* lie about their game, I am reminded of the following Bob the Angry Flower comic: link to angryflower.com

  6. Shiloh says:

    At the risk of sounding like a jaded old hater, where were the functioning portals planet-side? The sandworms breaching and plunging back into the desert sand? Being able to see other player characters’ likenesses in-game? Planetary rotation “reduced” (when it was never there in the first place)? I won’t go on, but it seems like Hello Games dodged a bullet here – the dataminers did their job, proved the non-existence of features in the game’s files and the E3 asset snow job, but apparently that shit just won’t stick…

    My biggest gripe with NMS is that it should clearly have been an early access title, and that the missing features bullshotted in various trailers and in the many, many Sean Murray interviews should have been flagged well in advance.

    Moral of the story – don’t preorder!

    • Rulin says:

      Exactly, and in addtition to that:
      Read reviews before you buy it!

    • CriticalMammal says:

      Well, the things you listed actually weren’t in the promo material on Steam. I just went back over and reviewed over the trailers and screenshots to double check.

      No portals planet-side (these are in the game now though I believe? The new update has them on space stations at least). There were not sandworms in the promo material, even though it was in a video previously I don’t believe that one ever made it to the storefront. Seeing other players and multiplayer was never actually shown. Planetary physics didn’t appear in the store vids either.

      There certainly was stuff that was in the trailers that only partially made it into the original release. But I do feel like a lot of people aren’t looking at just what the ASA investigated. It was only the Steam page, not the entire promotion cycle.

      • minijedimaster says:

        Just because the material released by Hello Games depicting sand worms and for that matter actual sand planets didn’t make it to the Steam store page doesn’t mean it wasn’t deceptive advertising.

        And for that matter any materials claimed or shown outside of steam in general

  7. aircool says:

    So they used the same argument as the one where you can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, so therefore He does…

  8. Ethaor says:

    NMS, one of the worst false advertising fiasco of these past few years gets a free pass by the ASA. Now that’s something.

    They’re completely ignoring the fact that what was depicted and advertised simply couldn’t and still cannot happen within the procedural code parameters. NMS advertised procedural worlds by picturing handcrafted top-notch convenient visuals. They sold a procedurally generated game by showing handcrafted scripted visuals which is precicely the pitfall of procedural games.

    Looking at it upside down it’d be like advertising Call of Duty as a procedurally generated game.

    The Advertising Standards Authority is, on this matter, either dishonest or incompetent. Hopefully not both.

    • brucethemoose says:

      “worst false advertising fiasco of these past few years”

      In the world of gaming maybe, but I’ve seen far worse outside of that.

    • deiseach says:

      I seem to recall that Jeremy Paxman, when talking to a video games journalist many moons ago about (natch) violence in the medium, was brought up short by the revelation that adults played these games. I can’t shake the feeling that the ASA are treating this like an adult complaining about the veracity of the ads on a children’s channel. “Did you really expect the Georgie Interactive Puppy to behave like a real dog? Oh grow up!”

      • Marr says:

        Yeah, I’m left with the impression that they consist of six very old men surgically embedded into business suits whose most recent foray into these new-fangled TV games was Space Invaders. I don’t really know what else anyone was expecting from this.

    • TK-093 says:

      “worst false advertising fiasco of these past few years”

      False. See Presidential Election 2016. :)

  9. leeder krenon says:

    lol @ angry internet youtube men.

    what an absolute waste of time being furious about video games is.

    • Antlia says:

      Not sure if just baiting but I’ll respond anyways.

      In what world is it not okay to be angry over a scam that took 60 of your hard earned euros away from you? Even if it is just a video game, the money was real. You gave that away to experience something that you thought you would enjoy. You base that thought on the advertising. And if the advertising shows things that you’re not gonna experience, then it’s a scam.

    • Jay Load says:

      Almost as big a waste of time as your comment, perhaps? Surely a tut, eye-roll and moving-on to comment on something more to your interests/tastes would have been more appropriate?

      • Michael Anson says:

        There’s a certain level of irony in complaining about someone complaining about someone complaining. It’s like an ouroboros of internet drama.

    • minijedimaster says:

      Took a break from doing the same 5 things in NMS to make this comment I see. Congratulations.

    • Marr says:

      You have to be at least 40 years old with that avatar, man. Why are you posting in the manner of a 4chan yoof?

  10. Premium User Badge

    Godwhacker says:

    The game wasn’t perfect by any means, but I honestly think Hello Games has received enough of a kicking now. Given that anyone even mildly defending it on the internet has been met with a full barrel of rage God knows how many death/rape threats Sean Murray has had to deal with over the last six months.

    Moreover I think their defence here is pretty fair- it’s procedurally generated, so you’re probably not going to walk straight into a Space Brontosaurus in your first two hours.

    Can’t say I’m overly eager to get back into it after getting bored and putting it down after about 25 hours but I liked it well enough.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ericusson says:

      How much is a kicker when you feel your pocket s with millions of dollars ?
      People vote with their wallets, I will avoid any game by anyone closely linked to this fiasco from now on for sure.

      • Premium User Badge

        Godwhacker says:

        So your opinion is “They must be rich now so I can abuse them as much as I want”? I’ve no idea how much money they got out of the game but if you’d seen all your work for however many year eviscerated and pissed on by a mob with expectations that could never hope to be met you’d be feeling pretty terrible regardless of how much you had in the bank.

        They fucked up, fine. But for God’s sake give them a chance.

        • Emeraude says:

          The opinion is more “they got rich by scamming people, and that wrong was never corrected or even remotely balanced back, therefore, we can continue shaming them in the public eye for what they’ve done, since it’s the only civilized recourse we have left”.

          When what they’ve done has been addressed in a satisfactory manner, then they can get another chance, not before.

          • Michael Anson says:

            Considering how the original comment was speaking about death/rape threats, you might want to qualify your response a bit.

          • Premium User Badge

            Ericusson says:

            Your comment is pretty much useless in the context to which you refer to.

            The original post you refer to talks about ” rape/death threats ” received by whatever his name and the people defending the game.

            Neither the original poster, nor the guy gently developing an answer, or the guy who needed a text explanation nor me expressed any threat like the one to which you refer to.

            Your comment just muddles this exchange, and as you bring nothing to it I must wonder if it’s not voluntary to derail the subject or if you just read too much and wanted to burp online.

          • Emeraude says:

            Or I’m thinking the equating everything that happened to the threats is where the muddling started.

    • Antlia says:

      Yeah but what if you’re never gonna walk into that brontosaurus, because nothing resembling it is in the game? I mean I’m sure there are big creatures in the game but anything that behaves like that saurus or trees as big as in the trailer?

    • Merus says:

      I just find the whole thing a bit fatiguing, to be honest; even the article is inferring things from the trailer as if it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that if there’s a space battle then that means there’s a procedurally generated war going on. I inferred from the heavy use of procedural content in the trailer that the game was going to be samey and sort of lifeless, which is a significantly more reasonable assumption.

  11. wu wei says:

    The “factions vie over territory” line, for example, seems likely to create an expectation of shifting galactic control in the minds of people who are familiar with similarly dynamic systems in other games, rather than the mere presence of different factions, brief conversations with them, or consequence-free battles.

    Isn’t this the root of a lot of the problem? You’ve projected a heck of a lot of expectation into four words there, none of which is actually supported by them.

    If a game advertises that you can “romance party members”, are they falsely implying that there’ll be actual romance instead of a branching tree of interaction?

    Personally, I’d be fine with stating the latter but I don’t think this brand new expectation of hyper-accuracy in game marketing will be evenly applied.

    • RanDomino says:

      The question is whether words mean things. If a game says “first-person shooter” but it’s an over-the-shoulder puzzle-platformer-with-some-shooting-sprinkled-in, then they should have called it a “third-person action-platformer” or something like that. Worse, if the screenshots and preview videos show it being first-person, then, yes, it’s definitely false advertising at the least, if not outright public fraud.

    • Silverchain says:

      Depends who’s talking. If Tarn Adams says “factions vie over territory” I expect at least a drawn-out saga full of hilarious misunderstandings and incidental carnage. But even from a random developer with no form I’d expect something more active than “factions sit around keeping themselves to themselves and never interact”; vie is a verb. NMS’ factions don’t do.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Ericusson says:

    Burn the World.

  13. klownk says:

    “This feels to me like there’s a gap between the knowledge of people who regularly play games and the knowledge of the regulators at the Advertising Standards Authority,”

    That, exactly.

  14. Taszi says:

    All the advertisement is a bullshot, artificially generated. That things is not exist in the game. And there is no chance to find, because the AI behaviour is really different.

    Whit this latest expansion they converted the space exploration game into a base building minecraft where you teleporting between worlds. This game is realy goes in wrong direction.

  15. Pico says:

    I just spent some time watching Cossacks 3 trailers on Steam.

    Comment continues below

    They are pretty impressive – as a matter of fact they are so impressive that I found myself wandering whether they are true or not. That’s one of the things I learned from the NMS affair: on Steam, do not trust anybody. Is this good or bad? Well, at least I am even more paranoid than I used to be.

  16. Unsheep says:

    This is a victory for common sense.

    • Jay Load says:

      No, this is a victory for corporate ability to obscure the truth, in the case of Hello Games/Sony, and to side-step responsibility, in Valve/Steam’s case.

      There is plenty of common sense in criticising the way this game was marketed as opposed to the final product. Don’t let the more heated elements of the gaming community polarise you away from a very clear abuse of customer faith and wallets.

      • inspiredhandle says:

        A very important lesson to be learned from this comment. We should resist our instict to dismiss evidence that comes from individuals that draw extreme conclusions from it.

        You don’t need to froth at the mouth over this, but with a clear and calm mind it does seem (to me at least) that there was a pretty blatant misrepresentation of the game in the advertising material. A shame that the ASA didn’t agree.

        • Xocrates says:

          I’ll be honest, I was genuinely surprised by how much of what was in the trailers ended up in the final game.

          Granted, part of that is a lifetime of growing cynical of pre-release marketing, but I do not feel like NMS marketing was a “blatant misrepresentation” of the game. There are plenty of games which are far far worse on that front, and the difference usually ends up on whether people like them or not.

          NMS isn’t completely innocent, but I don’t see anything openly malicious or intentionally misleading about their actions. They showed you the game they wanted to make, not the one they ended being able to make.

          • klops says:

            After your game is published and you show the game you wanted to make instead of the game you made, you’re being intentionally misleading.

          • Xocrates says:

            The trailer is 2 years old. As far as we know everything on it was either accurate or planned at the time it was released.

            They released a lot more accurate stuff since.

          • klops says:

            That 2 years old trailer is the main trailer for the game in the Steam site. It shows gameplay that differs seriously from how NMS plays.
            link to store.steampowered.com

          • Xocrates says:

            I’ve already noted that I was surprised by how accurate those trailers actually are. As far as I’m concerned they’re a fair – even if not completely accurate – representation of what playing the game is like.

            This isn’t to say I wouldn’t prefer if they kept the stuff more up to date, but I don’t see anything particular egregious about it.

            Heck, the only trailer on the Bioshock steam page is a pre-rendered trailer featuring clearly impossible actions. You don’t see people complaining about it.

          • klops says:

            Our idea of fair representation differs then.

          • minijedimaster says:

            Your moronic statements don’t even justify a rebuttal. You are literally one of a very few people outside of Hello Games staff that think this.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ericusson says:

      Lol, common sense, the fake law that funnily always goes the way you want it too.

  17. Collieuk says:

    It’s a bit like seeing an advertisement for a luxury apartment and then realising you’ve bought a portacabin with garden patio furniture inside. It looks a bit like a house – has doors and windows so is mostly the same but brochure said not every apartment will be the same for everyone so it’s ok. ASA gave let us down on this one. Hello Games got away this time.

  18. allthegoodonesweretaken2 says:

    “Oh it’s random so it can look like anything”
    Doesn’t this set a dangerous precedent?

    Doesn’t this encourage shitty devs to call their game “procedurally generated” because a decal on a wall may have one of 16 million possible colors (a random 24-bit RGB color) and that would let them use bullshots freely?

  19. trashbat says:

    Meh.

    Worst case had the complaint been upheld, given the circumstances, they would have been told not to do it again. Nothing more.

    As it is, I do think it was mildly misrepresentative, but not enormously so. The bigger problem is self-generated by customers who go from wholly uncritical prior to release to quite the reverse afterwards. It’s marketing – treat it with caution. Either spend the money at risk, or wait for reviews. And if and when you don’t get what you want, or think you paid for, take a step back and consider it with a degree of proportion.

    False advertising is a scourge that shouldn’t be encouraged, but the kind of consumer behaviours (obviously, not all) that we’ve seen in response to NMS are themselves a pox on gaming and all consumerism.

  20. mwoody says:

    I go back and forth a lot on No Man’s Sky. On the one hand, the outrage has been, in typical Internet fashion, insanely overblown. There’s no call for the threats I’ve seen levied at the studio. And I honestly did play about 30 hours of game and enjoyed it very much.

    But on the other hand: even after all this negative publicity, even after Valve changed their screenshot policy specifically in response to NMS’s bullshot problem, they STILL have outright fake trailers and screenshots on their Steam store page. Did their lawyers tell them that changing those out would be an admission of guilt?

    Actually, now I’m really curious what happened on Steam: if I check Amazon, they’re put up trailers that are actually in-game footage.

  21. GoingPostal13 says:

    “3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product.”

    Erm, and this wasn’t upheld how?

    • inspiredhandle says:

      “Have you been to every planet? The defence rests your honour”

      • Baines says:

        Going by the ASA quote, that seems to be exactly it. The ASA believed the same misleading descriptions of procedural generation that were used to sell the game in the first place.

      • minijedimaster says:

        Game ran like garbage and crash A LOT on ALL systems (not just PC). Seems that could have been upheld.

  22. koerner says:

    I’m a little surprised that only 23 people complained. That seems like a rather small amount for all the hullabaloo I’ve heard from folks upset with the games marketing.

    • Jediben says:

      Well we all thought that it was obvious and that 23 was a bit extreme. Clearly we oberestimated the people at the ASA – after all, they think that adverts for incontinence knickers and pubic shaving for women is acceptable tea time viewing, but a balm for shaved testicles must be relegated to post watershed. I never realised that pissing yourself was culturally acceptable now. Maybe time to send a few thousand more to help get the point across?

  23. Jediben says:

    It feels like someone has bought a bag of Brazil nuts, complete with a great nig label claiming to contain the world’s best brazil nuts, a big picture of a brazil nut and a warning that this bag may contain nuts, but upon opening said bag found there only to be small pieces of metal from the production machinery instead. And the ASAP says that is OK because not every product will be the same due to the way the conveyor belt works and the bag did tell you that it only ‘may’ contain nuts…

  24. Premium User Badge

    Lord Zeon says:

    From what I can tell the big problem is that Steam has the worst possible trailer for their first video on the NMS store page. That trailer is a 2014 E3 trailer – which is not a good representation of the final product. All their more recent trailers? They look pretty representative of what we ended up with. NMS should most definitely not have that trailer on Steam anymore, but on the other hand if you’re going to condemn a studio for not living up to a trailer created *two years* before the final release then you should be climbing on every other developer/publisher’s back and beating them as senseless as Hello Games.

    • minijedimaster says:

      Every other developer doesn’t create a pie in the sky pre-scripted E3 demo vid… then go on for the next 2 years making all these grand claims about the features of the game in more pre-scripted demos and interviews, then release a shell of the game they claimed they were working on still charging AAA price.

      Have other devs done that before? Sure, most not to this level, maybe a few about the same. But by and large most devs just aren’t this deceptive.

      Oh, also, its completely up to Hello Games the fact that the 2 year old not accurate video is up on Steam in the first place. AND STILL THERE.

    • Deviija says:

      Completely agree on that — if people are going to beat Hello Games and NMS like a dead horse for its misrepresentations or subjective marketing language or the early years-old E3 early-work-in-production demos, then they should be gunning for every single other game developer and publisher out there, too.

      This isn’t something new and grievous that only Hello Games/Sony/their marketing has done. Look at early alpha demos or the fake and elaborate tech demos that get put out every year, especially around E3 and other conventions. Ubisoft is king of the fake outs when it comes to representative content and graphics fidelity and features in their tech demos/early trailers. Is there a problem with marketing and how it can be misleading? Absolutely, it is worth examining. I just think NMS and Hello Games are getting a very vitriolic lashing (not everyone that discusses the issues, obviously, but if you have listened to the games media and corners of the internet, you’ll see some very disturbing backlash toxicity) and a unique focus for things so many other studios and publishers have engaged in.

  25. causticnl says:

    people already had plenty ways to refund it, HG made it easier to refund via Steam, so it wasnt tied to two hour playtime. Frankly if people wanted to refund, it was completely possible, an ASA ruling is therefor not needed.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ericusson says:

      This is a lie.
      There was no particular treatment for reimbursement on Steam.
      Steam actually had to send an email publicly saying there was no special reimbursement for NMS.

      So yeah. A lie.

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        You beat me to it. You’re absolutely correct. causticnl appears to have been given duff information.

      • causticnl says:

        let me guess, you’re one of the 23 people?

        • Premium User Badge

          Ericusson says:

          There should be a ” confirmed idiot ” sticker for RPS just like supporters.

          We all post idiotic comments, everybody can have a bad day. But someone deliberately pursuing a fake statement after its error has been pointed definitely qualifies for it.

          • klops says:

            Don’t judge! It’s a working tactic. You can also be qualified for a president like that.

  26. Kingseeker Camargo says:

    I know that on the internet you’re never the only one, but: Am I the only one who rolled their eyes at those trailers and previews and called a fat-ass, ridiculously overhyped bluff? I know for a fact that I’m not that clever a man. How many times does this have to happen for people to stop being so surprised when the actual game doesn’t deliver anywhere near what they promised?

    Hell, it’s the exact same situation we got with Trespasser back in 1998. That one was also going to reinvent gaming as we knew it, and surely we still remember how it ended up, right?

    • klops says:

      Of course you weren’t. Half of the people interested in NMS were trying to shoot it down before it was published. Same with Star Citizen.

      It still doesn’t remove the essential thing that you can’t advertise whatever you want if it’s not true.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      1998 was 18 years ago. As much as we all like to think it’s the case, we don’t have a collective gaming consciousness. I cannot learn lessons for others to benefit from. I played Oblivion, but had no idea about the horse armour controversy at the time.

      I don’t know why we all have to decide on a single important factor in these matters.

      Yes, people should stop preordering.

      Yes, publishers/devs should offer up pre-release review copies to 3rd parties.

      Yes, we need to hold advertising to account for misrepresenting products.

      All these things are true, you cannot eschew one or two for the other(s).

  27. kud13 says:

    I have absolutely nothing invested in the NMS debacle (I realized early on that as a “make your own fun”-type game it’s not for me, so I never bothered with it).

    However, I’m wondering if there’s a right to appeal ASA’s decision. Because I don’t like the precedent this is establishing- as long as a developer says early on that it is a “procedurally generated” game, they are then allowed to display hand-crafted content not actually presesnt in the game as “examples” of procedural generation.

    Which is all kinds of worrying, for obvious reasons.

    Did the ASA actually adress the argument that Hello Games used hand-crafted content as examples of “procedural generation?”

  28. Goschti says:

    Wow. Reading this is like a punch to the face for the consumer. Graphics are like the trailer? Minor things?

    If that ad is not misleading I don’t know what is. They should have made an example out of them and not give them the go ahead for lying to their customers.

  29. MrLoque says:

    NMS fiasco? A thing of the past.

    NMS is currently n°1 on the top sales page. A patch was enough to erase the past and set a new hyped beginning.

    That’s why Hello Games was able to sell an unfinished product at full price to their customers. Gamers can be relentlessly milked forever.

  30. Zenicetus says:

    Before the trailer fiasco I had a fairly neutral “meh” attitude toward the company and the game. I bought it, played for about 12 hours, got bored and quit. I was interested in it as a tech demo, and got my money’s worth for seeing it.

    Then the trailer fiasco hit, and my opinion of Hello Games took a major hit. How hard would it have been to just remove that trailer and replace it with something more representative of the current game?

    It’s still up there now on Steam, last time I checked. It’s either sheer laziness in not producing more current ads, or intentional deceptive advertising. The fact that they’re fighting to keep the trailer up tells me which it is. No more money from me for any Hello Games product, ever.

  31. inspiredhandle says:

    Surprised this hasnt made an appearance yet.

  32. Urthman says:

    The trailer is outdated and clearly includes stuff that was dropped from the initial release of the game. But I don’t think anyone would have cared if the internet (RPS included) hadn’t whipped itself into a frenzy of fantasizing about No Man’s Sky being their perfect dream space game in a way that was totally not the fault of Hello Games.

    Those people were going to be angry and disappointed no matter what Hello Games put in their trailers, but they can’t admit how much of their disappointment is their own stupid fault so they try to take it out on the minor misrepresentations in this trailer.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      I think you’ll find that the developers and or publishers were the instigators of the pre-release hype. There was plenty of exaggeration and lies on their part, with that being said, it is at least equally as true that as usual, those following the game’s development got rather carried away with what might be in the finished game.

      You can blame this whole debacle on many things, one might blame the extravagant advertising campaign on Sony’s evolvement, or a breakdown/lack of communication between HelloGames and Sony. I feel the most likely reason for the confusion about the game’s final features was down to a mix of HelloGames being an inexperienced dev and Sony pushing them to go big on the sell.

      Acting as though Sean Murray and his team were somehow passengers or victims to the outcome on release is, in my mind, complete nonsense. You’re almost certainly right about the disappointment being an inevitability in any case

      • tslog says:

        According to Wikipedia – hello games first game was Joe danger ( A game I didn’t mind ) released in 2010, and made 2 more Joe Danger games since then. With NMS being their 4th.

        So, clearly experienced. With experience not really being any excuse anyway because as gamers themselves they would never want to be treated that way themselves with the way they treated “us” with NMS.

  33. frymaster says:

    That the videos consisted of hand-crafted content is something I think I can give them a pass on – you expect them to be curated.

    The videos showing things that are actually impossible to experience in the game as released is a different matter

  34. tslog says:

    Such a ludicrous decision by ASA clearly constructed to protect misleading advertising in this case. That or ASA doesn’t want the workload.
    I hope some gamers now sue Hello Games, and the ASA. They clearly have strong grounds for both.

    And all I need is one example: The ad Hello Games have used (to sell this awful terrible game, ) has a quality, scale/number of creatures, and construction so different and superior from every every single YouTube video GAMEPLAY of No Mans Sky that’s currently in existence, that it’s laughable to say that the experience is remotely the same. What a sick joke. It’s a difference that Hello Games procedural generation cannot explain at all.

    I haven’t watched all the YouTube videos obviously, but I’ve watched a lot and I have not seen 1 that is even remotely close to the Ad.
    I challenge anyone with their best NMS gameplay video to present it here now, or in any Arena you like, and let’s make a comparison shall we.

    PS I never expected anything from such a small team to replicate what their ad portrayed over billions, let alone trillions of planets. If you want to talk about mathematics here, that is a mathematical equation thats impossible from such a small team.
    Logic and sobriety suffered a crushing defeat to hype and bias from that infamous E3.
    I was suspicious from day one, and that’s why I was never excited, or disappointed when I played this player hating game with the worst survival, inventory management, gathering, traversal, combat mechanics…. I’ve ever seen in a high profile game.
    This game put in so any bad fad popular systems, made it next to the worst they could be, and said here, enjoy. Gross.

    Oh, and I didn’t pay for this game because I knew better. I rented it.

  35. Afkilla says:

    Sean Murray may be able to retire early off the money stolen from fans, but he will forever be a pariah in the gaming / internet industry. Fuck No Man’s Sky.

  36. dorobo says:

    Them old farts totally missed the point! What a surprise!

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