Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Growing Problems with No Man's Sky

The issues surrounding No Man's Sky  continue to pile up. And finally other news publications then myself and Kotaku are seeing the light: Pre-Orders suck.

As more people are working with Amazon, Steam, and Sony for refunds on the game, just as many are wondering why this highly anticipated title has received such a huge backlash in a short amount of time. Some of it had to do with promises that were not met upon the game's launch. Others are people not content with the limited content offered, or the changes that had to be made to get the game out on time. Being a game developer is a rough job, made even more dubious with the rise of social media and instant feedback from fans. Whatever the reason may be, it's clear that a lot of people are unhappy with the results. Some are even comparing the game's launch to the failure of Assassin's Creed: Unity. Ouch.

Steam has issued a statement on the product page that No Man's Sky will not bypass their refund rules: if you have owned the game for more then 14 days or played longer then 2 hours then you are ineligible for a refund. However, they still review each request on a case by case basis, so you can still try. All the while, former Sony employees began to sound off on people returning the game after dozens of hours of game play. The player base is still dropping and it doesn't look like there will be much hope left after all the dust settles.

Here's the run-down on the whole hoopla:

No Man's Sky has had at least 2 years of buzz building around it. Beginning with the idea of having a template for broad, expansion gaming that allowed users millions of hours of content in one product, it became overwhelmed by the director's vision and the publisher pushing to release the game sooner then later. There is no specific goal, though the game suggests you try to reach for the center of the universe, per the lore. It's focus is on creating new experiences, seeing new worlds, and coming up with creative ways to have fun. It's Little Big Planet on a different playing field.

While the PS4 version released with little issues, the PC game has been plagued by downed servers, run-time errors, and the like. Though it was a rough launch, it did become the biggest selling game on Steam this year.

As people began to play, some of the features that were boasted by Hello Game's and it's director were missing. Reddit threads have exploded with gamers debating about the promises of the studio versus the reality. Aspect such as lack of planetary physics, dynamic ship builds (currently all ships are homogenized to look exactly the same for every player), and resource distribution not following the rules the developer claimed to be - less Minecraft more WoW where you have to learn the schematics before you can build. Even the little things such as being able to land on asteroids, quoted by the director, are not available.

It might be nitpicking, but when you scroll through the lists and see how much content is not in the game that was promised by the studio, it raises a lot of questions. Was Hello Games and the publisher trying to capitalize on the hype? Did Sony pull an EA and push Hello Games to release an unfinished product? Was it too many promises too soon that the team couldn't produce? We won't really know. But it is a lot of missing content when you get down to it, and gamers are not happy that they paid for an unfinished product.

With no timeline on updates or when the content will be available, people are asking for refunds. Now I will say, personally, if you have played the game for more then 20 hours, asking for a refund is silly. You made your mess by buying the game. Deal with it. But if you are only a few hours in or have had so many tech issues that you can't play it, then asking for a refund is feasible. I feel the people who have been playing for the past few weeks have been trying to find content to help them appreciate the game. And not every gamer is asking for a refund - it just happens to be more then the normal.

Sony and Hello Games need to do damage control. They've got to come up with a solution as well as a timeline for future content releases, fast. At this point they are on a sliding slope with very little chance to recover.

Admittedly I have not played the game. I haven't had the time, and felt that the initial release would be plagued by server issues with so many people logging in at once. I didn't want to pay for a game I couldn't play right out of the box. Letting games sit, unopened annoys me. The concept sounded interesting. I really like the dynamic art style. Yes it's not as flashy as Skyrim on mods, but it doesn't need to be. The exploration aspect was a bit of a turn-off since that's not my deal. I need quests that direct me from Point A to Point B, but I could get over it to try out the game.

At this point, I don't know if I want to play it. Reading the concerns of gamers who have been waiting for this product to release, I may wait it out until more content is available. Going from planet to planet seeing the same thing and doing repetitive tasks? No thanks.

Oh, also, stop pre-ordering games. We've set a precedent, as consumers, that it's okay for studios to release unfinished products. Why? Because they have a guarantee sale with your pre-order. If you want better games, then change your buying habits. Stop buying things that are incomplete. Simple as that.


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