Hype, False Advertising, and Refunds: A Look at the No Man’s Sky Controversy

Hype, False Advertising, and Refunds: A Look at the No Man’s Sky Controversy

You’ve probably heard of No Man’s Sky. Really, it’s borderline impossible to not have heard of it, with how much discussion it’s been provoking online as of late, in combination with the massive amount of hype it generates prior to release.

Unfortunately for Hello Games (and perhaps fortunately for consumers going forward), the discussion No Man’s Sky has been stirring up hasn’t been of a particularly positive nature. A large number of people are almost flat-out outraged about the final state of the product that they had been eagerly anticipating. Actually, anticipating may be putting it lightly. From the moment the first trailer was shown in 2013, almost the entire internet lit up with excited chatter about the game. A real, infinite space sim? With procedurally generated worlds, creatures, and plants? Alien races with warring factions to run into and trade with? Space combat? Landing on meteors? The (albeit small) chance of running into another player and co-oping the game like Journey or Dark Souls? Sounds great right? Sign me up, Hello Games!


Looks beautiful, right?

Except, the game shown off over these past few years was not what we got. The final product is vastly different from what was shown. Now, this isn’t something new to the gaming industry, obviously. Developers have a bad habit of taking screenshots, dubbed “Bullshots” by online gaming communities, that were taken at higher resolutions than the actual game, often boasting upped graphics settings too, not available in the final game on consoles. So, you may be thinking. Is it the players’ fault for overhyping themselves based on mere trailers? Is it Hello Games’ fault for fabricating trailer material? The answer to both of these is yes.

Although in this case, Hello Games has a lot more to answer for than just premade trailer footage.

You may remember a special little game called Aliens: Colonial Marines from 2013. That game infamous for being a pile of garbage, but that’s not the reason I mention it. Gearbox’s Colonial Marines is a textbook case of the exact same issue that No Man’s Sky faces. The footage, demos, everything shown for Colonial Marines was fabricated in order to generate hype and sales for the game. None of it was a representation of the final product, and none of it was even planned to be. In order to clarify just how serious this was for Gearbox, and how serious this could be for Hello Games, Gearbox got sued over the game for false advertising, forcing publisher Sega to step in and pay $1.25 million to settle it. With how things are going, Hello Games could be quickly careening down the same path.

Now, just a quick note before I really get into the specifics of the drama and controversy around this game. I was not excited for No Man’s Sky . I didn’t overly care about the game, and actually forgot it existed until around this April. I’m not “butthurt” or any other type of meme buzzword. I’m not disappointed in the game, and I’ve only played it because I borrowed it out of curiosity from a family member. I am entirely objective here, and not fueled by any particular personal feelings of betrayal, hate, and indeed, butthurt.

Let’s begin.


Newsflash: It doesn’t look this good.

Perhaps the biggest kick in the teeth to those who were excited about the game was that some of the most anticipated and exciting features were straight up lies. The worst offender? The lack of multiplayer features at all. Initially promised, and continually reiterated right up until the game’s launch, was that, although rarely, you would actually be able to encounter other players and adventure alongside them. It was even promised that you could grief other players in a way, perhaps hinting at some form of PvP combat in some form. The idea of exploring undiscovered planets with your friends sounds amazing, but alas, it was not to be. On August 9th, two players managed to meet up over Twitch, and were shocked to discover that it was all a big, fat lie.

There is no multiplayer in No Man’s Sky. None. You cannot encounter other players in the game.

But you can definitely encounter random game crashes. All the time. On a CONSOLE. But, the fun doesn’t stop there. Despite an addition delay just to get it working on PC, that port was infamously bad, like worse than PC Dark Souls bad. The game was straight up broken and nonfunctional on release day, and is apparently plagued with issues. The console version still crashes too. It’s downright incompetent, considering both versions have been delayed to hell and back.

It doesn’t even end there. The sheer amount of missing promised features and issues can’t even be fully covered in depth in an article. This Reddit post does a good job of outlining all of the missing features, including, but not limited to: giant creatures, destructible space stations, hacking, and more. Evidently, it’s not entirely just down to people being “overhyped”. This was a factor obviously, with people theorizing and predicting their own gameplay features based on seconds of footage, but as said, Hello Games has a lot to answer for.

Or maybe not exactly Hello Games as a whole. No, most of this can be pinpointed to one guy and his constant stream of straight-up falsehood.


Just look at that grin.

This man is Sean Murray, and if you followed No Man’s Sky, you should recognize his face. This is the face of both the world’s greatest marketer and the biggest con man of the year. Taking a note from Peter Molyneux, but with somewhat more malicious intent, Sean Murray lied through his teeth, dodged questions, and promised features that were not in the final game. Even from as far back as 2014, even the trailers were fabricated, pre-made footage, despite claims to the contrary, claims that everything shown was procedural and current. If you want evidence, this hilarious video comparing the 2014 E3 trailer to the final game should help quench your thirst.

The true brilliance of Sean Murray’s lies though, is that he, and Hello Games as a whole has a shield to hide behind. Because of their technical status as an indie dev, despite No Man’s Sky having Sony as a publisher supporting them, people are quick to jump the aid of the “little guy”, even when they deserve the punishment they’re getting, and Hello Games is quick to use their small studio status as an excuse for any screwups along the way. Honestly, I find this deplorable, as it not only harms the credibility of the entire indie gaming scene, but also is a cheap, lazy way to avoid having to take responsibility for their failures.

The stupidest part about the whole thing, is that bugs aside, there ARE games I have played far worse than No Man’s Sky. It’s not the worst game ever made exactly, even as-is. The problem is that Hello Games, or mostly Sean Murray, weaponized the very concept of excitement and hype, creating a rabid fanbase for a game that wasn’t even out, and was never really worth it. Again, somewhat of an excellent marketing strategy, but it’s crashing down hard on them now, worse than most could have anticipated, with immense backlash. This whole thing will hopefully serve as a lesson to gamers, teaching them not to fall for the lies of developers, and not to get excited for something based on word of mouth, bullshot trailers, and vague concepts.

Oh, before I go, I should probably mention that if you fell for Murray’s ruse and are disappointed with the game, Steam is offering refunds for even people who have played MORE THAN TWO HOURS as long as you state the reasons for refund being poor performance or false advertising.

Also there are reports of your discoveries being overwritten and erased, killing off hours of gameplay and exploration.

Happy space travels, my friends.

  • J.j. Barrington

    “Also there are reports of your discoveries being overwritten and erased, killing off hours of gameplay and exploration.”

    Pretty certain that’s already been debunked.

    Now, if I’m starting at the bottom, and finding problems with this article in almost the very last line, how many more things will I find wrong if I work my way up?

    • Shane Corfield

      The issue has happened to more people than just the OP of that thread, and not all of them have been able to get it working again. Whether it’s because of server issues or not, it’s unacceptable.

      • J.j. Barrington

        Don’t give me that crap. Games aren’t flawless, they never have been. And the more complications you add to them, the higher the likelihood of something going wrong.

        Doesn’t make it a GOOD thing by any stretch of the imagination. But you’re definitely full of it to claim it’s “unacceptable.”

        • SpeakTruthAlways

          “Games aren’t flawless, they never have been”

          Games have bugs? I didn’t know that! Oh well then all is forgiven!

          Dumbest argument I have ever seen.

          I have seen a lot of shills on the internet before, but you are truly special.

          • J.j. Barrington

            Guess you’re too incompetent to even read the whole comment.

        • Shane Corfield

          For a game where the “gameplay” is almost entirely based around registering creatures, planets, and everything in your database, that getting wiped IS unacceptable.

          If something like Dark Souls randomly wiped all your progress, people would complain and say the same. A game deleting progress by itself is an objectively bad thing.

    • SpeakTruthAlways

      “If it didn’t happen to me or anyone I know then it’s just conspiracy theories!”

      Please do share with us where this bug is debunked.

      • J.j. Barrington

        Is your aim now to stalk me around with weak-ass responses like that?

        Don’t quit your day job.

  • Fat_Pig_Reporting

    Discoveries are not being overwritten and erased. The same redditor that started all this story got his discoveries back the same night. Of course all the sites wrote huge articles, ever ready to ride the hate wave. Then they were editing the articles. Nice to continue with the clickbaits.

    Also, the list of features missing from the redditor’s post has been debunked in more than half the content as people keep exploring the game. Things like mountains, rivers, animals interacting with the environment and quite literally half of the list have been confirmed to be in the game. Check your sources better.

    “A look at NMS controversy”. Nope. Just another [Redacted].

    • Shane Corfield

      That same reddit user did, yes. There are many others in that thread, as well as someone I know personally who were unable to get their discoveries back and were forced to essentially start over again.In addition, the article only mentioned that there were reports of it happening, and never mentioned that it was definitely an issue.

      Regarding that reddit post that I sourced about the “missing features”, the only ones mentioned in the article are giant creatures, hacking, and destructible space stations, none of which are actually in the game in any form. On the points mentioned in the article itself, the source is valid.

      My suggestion is that you try reading more than the OP post of a given thread before claiming the source is invalid, and maybe take a closer look at claims the article itself made before claiming something as a “[redacted]”.


      • Fat_Pig_Reporting

        “Regarding that reddit post that I sourced about the “missing features”, the only ones mentioned in the article are giant creatures, hacking, and destructible space stations”.

        1. So putting a link that has the whole thread in it does not count as “mentioned in the article”? Or is it not on your account because you did not write it yourself?

        2. And you are wrong even in that account. People (me included) have found creatures up to 8m high. Not sure what size would satisfy your need for “giant”, but I’m pretty sure 8 meters fits the bill. Hacking exists in the game, you have to solve number puzzles in order to unlock most of the game facilities. You also need to craft specific bypass chips in order to access beacons. Pretty sure this counts as hacking, at least as far as a game is concerned. There may not be destructible space stations, but there are destructible spaceships and freighters.

        As I said, total [Redacted]. Instead of suggesting that I should read the post, perhaps you should actually play the game before you write an article about it.

        • Shane Corfield

          The reddit post contains many things that are indeed missing in the game, regardless of how many are said to be in the game, the reddit post does state many things that are confirmed to be missing. If I posted a link to a post stating one feature in the game and fifty more confirmed to not be, I am sure that you would make the same argument.

          In many of the trailers, creatures such as a sand worm that spanned seemingly the entire planet were shown off and are not in the game. This is not something made up and this is not nitpicking. There is nothing of that size in the game and Hello Games lied about it. I suppose the bypass chip counts though, that part is my bad, as it didn’t really fill what I considered to be hacking in a game. I will take full responsibility about that.

          Finally, destructible space stations were said to be in the game and weren’t. This is final, and that was a blatant lie. I never said anything about spaceships and freighters. Space stations are not destructible. This cannot be disputed, and as presented in the article, this is a false promise and a lie on the part of Hello Games.

          At this point, I feel like you’re being the troll here, and being overly defensive of outright lies by Hello Games. I question why you are putting so much effort into your defense of the game, but I will continue to address your concerns with the article if you have any more.

          • Fat_Pig_Reporting

            You know what? you are right. I should read your post more carefully:

            “This Reddit post does a good job of outlining ALL of the missing features, including, BUT NOT LIMITED TO: giant creatures, destructible space stations, hacking, and more.”

            First, you clearly state that all the reddit post bullets are missing features. This is clearly not true. Which makes both your article AND the response you gave me earlier (the only ones mentioned in the article are giant creatures, hacking, and destructible space stations) false.

            Secondly, nothing can be confirmed that is missing unless you search all of the game and find no evidence of it. Explain to me how you can confirm something as missing unless you search 100% of the game.

            Here are a couple of tips on how to do your job. If you have a clear opinion about the topic in discussion and you have set your mind on how you will develop it, clearly state so in your article. Don’t write things about “a look at the controversy”, unless you actually LOOK at the controversy, aka view both sides of the coin. Be transparent: This is an article about my opinion that HG lied.
            Also, if you are writing an article on the 28th of the month, do not cite as proof a reddit post written on the 12th, on the first day the game released, when it is obvious that this info is outdated. In short if even 1% of your source is proven as false, this shakes the integrity of the entire source and should make it unusable. You should know this if you are into journalism.

            You are citing sources that are not true in order to lead your readers to the conclussion you want. You are equally guilty as the guy you are accusing of being a liar. You asked me why I am defending NMS. I am not. I couldn’t care less, I am not a member of the company, I am just a customer of theirs. And let me be clear in this point: Sean Murray did lie. But then again, so do you. I would ask you in turn why are you attacking NMS with such fervor, but I know the answer. Clicks bring money.

            I could continue about how you feel outraged that a game crashes in the beginning of its launch, as if this has never happened in the history of video games ever. Or how you provide a humorous youtube video and state that this is EVIDENCE of anything. Perhaps you should take a look at what evidence actually means. I could continue, but it is clear to me at this point that you are a) an amateur, b) bad at your job or c) have a job with an agenda. So I will ignore any responses you might provide (don’t bother writing one) and I will take a notice to avoid your website from now on.

            P.S.: Accuses me of being a troll, ends a [Redacted] with “Happy space travels, my friends”. Kappa.

          • Shane Corfield

            I appreciate your input.

      • Jay

        BS giant creatures are in the game seen them myself

  • Hunter Ex

    Just don’t think about it anymore, I still play it and have over 79hrs in it. Sure it sucks that roughly 70% aren’t in the game if not more but come on. Enough crying over spilled beans.

    • TessellatedGuy

      If we don’t cry over spilled beans like this then we’re encouraging other devs to do this and get away with it. This shouldn’t be taken lightly and hello games deserves all the hate they are getting. Even the Xbox trolls are right at what they’re doing. STOP DEFENDING THE GAME.

      • Hunter Ex

        I’m not defending it at all is just strange that ppl cry for weeks over this but they pay ea 130$ Special editions without the darn game in it.

  • esme

    Hahaha hah hah haha. (Still laughing at that Trailer).

  • Jay

    wow this site deleted alot of comments overnight were people were pointing out false claims in the article, like giant creatures which ive seen myself.

    • SpeakTruthAlways

      The author must have some strange sense of self-entitlement.

      • Hey there,

        This actually wasn’t the case, I am currently in the process of trying to restore these comments. We were trying to moderate the comments by removing some profanity from them. For some reason, we couldn’t moderate them because a moderator wasn’t properly set-up earlier.

        You should see them back up shortly!

        – Skyler.

        • SpeakTruthAlways

          Actually it was nice not having J.J Borington (Sony employee of the year) around defending this fraud of a game.

        • Jay

          the comments im talking about had no profanity in them at all

          • It wasn’t with the comments you were talking about. What actually happened was that I attempted to edit the ones with profanity. After attempting to edit the comment, it wouldn’t reflect so I restart the comment system. Sadly, this managed to wipe out all of the comments through Disqus because it created another channel.

            I am trying to export the comments as we speak but I have had no luck. Stay tuned, Doing my best to get them back!