The Advertising Standards Authority were alerted by gamers to come knocking at the door of Hello Games to check to see if No Man’s Sky was breaching the standards of advertising and whether or not images, screenshots and trailers were properly representative of the actual game. According to the ASA… No Man’s Sky is not guilty of false advertising.
The news comes via the ASA’s official website, where they revealed that after comparing the screenshots and trailers on the Steam store to the four hours of actual gameplay that Hello Games demonstrated to them (and huge props to the ASA for actually taking a look at the game in real-time to check it for themselves) they concluded that what was on display on the Steam store page was close to what was demonstrated to them during the four hour session.
The ASA concluded that no further actions would be taken against Hello games for breaching CAP Code rules 3.1, 3.3, 3.7 and 3.11 in regards to misleading advertising, substantiation and exaggeration, writing..
“We understood that the screenshots and videos in the ad had been created using game footage, and acknowledged that in doing this the advertisers would aim to show the product in the best light. 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.”
I think in some regards the issue wasn’t what was depicted simply on the Steam store page but in what way those images and trailers were contextualized during interviews and previews leading up to the release of No Man’s Sky by Hello Games’ co-founder Sean Murray. I mean, we still don’t have proper multiplayer in the game!
A lot of people around the web have displayed a sense of dissatisfaction with the ASA’s findings because it excluded the interviews and pre-release promotions and preview sessions that talked about and discussed things that didn’t quite make the cut in the game.
I’m also curious about the ASA’s resolution on the fleet of space ships used in the one image on the Steam store page? They mentioned that due to the procedural design of the game it could happen but I suppose the more pertinent question is: does it actually happen in the game?
People don’t just buy games on the promise of possibilities, but the promise of what they will actually potentially experience in the game itself. In this regards I think the pedantic approach taken by the ASA leads to a conclusion that’s hard to argue with, but the scope of the advertising extended well beyond what was featured on the Steam store page.