It has been more than a month since the release of No Man's Sky, and still the backlash against the Hello Games-developed title continues.
Since the game's release, numerous fans have complained that creator Sean Murray and the game's marketing have misled consumers about No Man's Sky's features. Now, an official UK government agency is taking a critical look at whether or not those claims have any merit.
As reported by Eurogamer, the UK's ad watchdog agency the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is currently investigating No Man's Sky, specifically how it is marketed on the game's Steam store page. Though the ASA isn't providing more details about it at the moment, a Reddit user by the name of AzzerUK, who filed a complaint with the ASA, says they have received a response from the agency regarding the investigation.
According to AzzerUK, the ASA received numerous complaints about No Man's Sky, which led to the agency identifying numerous key areas in which the game's current marketing could mislead consumers. Via AzzerUK on Reddit, those key areas include videos that show flowing water, structures, user interface features and animal AI not present in the full game, as well as screenshots showing larger creatures and buildings not present in the full game. General claims made on the game's store page that are not present in the full game include factions vying over territory trade convoys between stars.
If the ASA does find No Man's Sky's Steam marketing misleading, it can have Valve and Hello Games remove the misleading videos, screenshots and other marketing materials from the game's store page. According to the response received by AzzerUK, the outcomes of the investigations are also cross-applicable to other store fronts using the misleading marketing, which means numerous other store fronts selling No Man's Sky could be affected as well.
AzzerUK told Eurogamer that filing the complaint to the ASA was about more than just No Man's Sky, though he does feel personally "misled" by the game's marketing.
"I figured that if we want Steam store pages for games to start falling in line and stop misleading consumers, then it would take consumers to point these problems out to the ASA, rather than all sit around on Reddit complaining to each other but assuming that it'll all get sorted by itself eventually," he told the site.
This is far from the first time No Man's Sky's marketing has been in the news. Shortly after the game's release, numerous fans began requesting refunds for the game from both Steam and Sony (who published the physical version of No Man's Sky on PS4). Inaccurate claims that Steam was making exceptions to its normal refund policy in the case of No Man's Sky led Valve to update the game's store page with a special disclaimer that specifically says Steam's standard refund policy does apply. Currently the game sports a "Mostly Negative" user review score, with nearly 70,000 user reviews written.
Even the President of Sony Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, admits that perhaps No Man's Sky wasn't sold in the right way. Speaking with Eurogamer at the Tokyo Game Show last month, Yoshida said he understood "some of the criticisms especially Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one."
So far, Hello Games has been silent on the controversy surrounding No Man's Sky, though the developer does continue to release updates for the game that have improved performance and fixed various glitches present at launch.