ByMichael Mitchell, writer at Creators.co
Gamer, writer, occasional pedant. Mitch lives up to all these adjectives and more by writing for Now Loading and Blizzard Watch. @Fizzl_CTR.
Michael Mitchell

Remember a while back when Hello Games was revealed to be under investigation for alleged false advertising surrounding the release of No Man's Sky? Of course you do! No Man's Sky may go down as one of gaming's biggest disappointments in many gamers' eyes, and the community at large can't seem to get enough of No Man's Sky drama.

Well, the latest update in the drama department is that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has cleared Hello Games of all false advertising allegations made against it. Sorry, anyone hoping to delight in the company's pains.

Hello Games Was Cleared Based Only On Steam And PS4 Promotional Material

Here's the part I'm pretty sure will incite anyone who was calling for the investigation in the first place: The investigation was limited strictly to the promotional material present on Steam and on the PlayStation Store. What that means is, the descriptions provided, the preview videos used, and the screenshots on display.

What it doesn't mean is anything that Sean Murray said in interviews or on Twitter or anywhere else in the months leading up to the game's launch. As you're probably aware, his comments about multi-player were some of the most controversial when players quickly discovered they could not see each other. (It should be noted, the official description lists the game as single-player in no uncertain terms.)

In essence, using only these materials is helpful in providing the ASA with a specific and easily definable boundary in which to conduct the investigation. After all, if everything were to be included, there would likely be angry players coming forth with this small thing and that small thing for months to follow.

However, it also seems to imply that the ASA is putting a lot of responsibility on the buyers. Which, yes, you should always try to read the fine-print on purchases, but this case is anything but cut and dry — and that approach is likely to upset players. Although, when it comes to legalities, it's hardly surprising that the ASA approached it with essentially the same mindset as a lawyer combing through a EULA to find a specific clause or loophole.

Plus, No Man's Sky Has A Very Strong Built-In Counterargument

There's another aspect to the verdict against Hello Games that's pretty hard to argue but also likely to rub some players the wrong way: When you procedurally generate a universe with 18 quintillion planets, it's hard to say anything is impossible. It's a bit dodgy and deals mostly with technicalities but this is exactly what factored into the ASA's ruling:

"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.”

On the one hand, can you really argue this? Sure, there are dinosaur-like creatures shown in the Steam video that no one has encountered, but can players really argue that not encountering those specific creatures is a strong enough basis to say the game doesn't have what it said it would? Moreover, the description does say the game uses procedural generation and emphasizes exploration as one of its four key pillars — the three others being "Trade," "Survive," and "Fight."

On the other hand, the creatures of No Man's Sky do tend to look pretty similar across multiple planets, to the point where it seems like anyone can extrapolate that the dinosaur creatures aren't something that can be generated within the game's code. More than that, they tend to look... well, "less appealing" is a nice way to put it.

The above video is a hilariously sad demonstration of this dichotomy in action. No, not all creatures look as odd as the one from the release gameplay, but they certainly all have a sense of proceduralism about them that makes it hard to argue creatures as stunning as the ones in the E3 video actually could exist.

But The Recent Update Might Appease Still-Angry Players

If there's a silver lining to every bit of drama that's ever surrounded No Man's Sky, it's that the game just pushed out the "first small step in a longer journey" in the form of its Foundation patch. This patch improves the game in ways that I'm sure a lot of players will enjoy — if they're willing to give it another chance.

The update brings base-building, freighters, UI improvements, new game modes, and several more additions. In other words, it's a big step forward for the game and one that brings a lot of features enticing enough to maybe bring back players who'd given up on it.

Sure, Hello Games has remained arguably too silent since releasing the game, but the fact that that silence was broken with such a significant update means they're not giving up on the game. The No Man's Sky of 2016 may have been a disappointment, but the No Man's Sky of 2017 might be the game we'd all hoped for.

Do you agree with the decision to clear Hello Games of false advertising allegations? Let us know why or why not in the comments!