Let's move aside from who's to blame for the failure of No Man's Sky, and focus our thoughts on the overwhelming volume of online discussion about this game. Without question, No Man's Sky released as one of the most anticipated games of the year. Move forward to today, and the full scope of what was delivered can now be seen beyond the hype.
The result has been a backlash on a scale that has not seen for decades: No Man's Sky has become this generations E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game. Now, this isn't to say that No Man's Sky is bad, and nowhere near as bad as E.T. even at its worst - NMS certainly still has a loyal player base that is enjoying the game. But, it has a bit of a reputation problem, and is gaining a cultural notoriety similar to the E.T. game.
E.T. Marks A Pivotal Moment In Gaming History
If you don't know, E.T. has been debated for many moons as to whether or not it's the worst game of all time. Similar to Know Man's Sky, the game followed much anticipated hype, and initially sold well. Unfortunately for E.T. and Atari, gamers and critics alike soon realized it was not what they expected.
The demand to release the game to coincide with the E.T. movie premiere placed an unrealistic time-frame on its developer and the game was rushed. As a result of the negative backlash, sales dropped to well below expectations. On this occasion, E.T. never phoned home.
With the negative press destroying Atari's reputation, Atari famously decided to destroy the majority of the remaining copies. Originally, the claim that Atari secretly buried approximately 700,000 copies of the game in New Mexico was unsubstantiated. Inspired by this event, documentary filmmaker Zak Penn investigated the story and amazingly found it to be true. I encourage you to view the above trailer for Atari: Gamer Over to understand the impact E.T. had on the Atari, and the gaming industry in general.
Now Consider No Man's Sky
I know that I appear to have gone straight for the jugular with my comparison between E.T. and No Man's Sky, and I have not done so willy-nilly. To be clear, I am not comparing the worst games of all time because No Man's Sky does have good elements. Why I am judging No Man's Sky to be the modern day equivalent to E.T., is because of the disparity between the advertised game and the reality. We now have a new gaming milestone that marks a collective moment in time when players once again are left feeling they have been dealt well, an a E.T.
No Man's Sky represents the lost promise of what could have been, and people are angry for feeling, once again, they have fallen for a ruse of clever manipulation. Just like Atari, Sony is pointing blame in all directions in an attempt to disperse the fallout.
Refunds are being solicited by gamers and rumors are rife that investigations are underway for advertising fraud. Unfortunately, it seems No Man's Sky is struggling to find its place in the gaming universe.
In a recent interview, industry veteran Geoff Keighley mentioned that the game may have been better off as an Early Access title:
"Now, I had many strong discussions with Sean and the team as they lead up to launch, and I disagreed with them charging $60 and putting it in a box when I think what they should have done was sort of put it out as an Early Access game and let people play it and sort of build over time with the team and community.”
There Is Nothing Wrong With Passion
The debate whether No Man's Sky is a bad game is not something fans or critics will categorically agree upon. It's possible that both sides will have to humbly admit that, just like E.T., the promoted game has once again mislead our expectations.
We are a passionate bunch that's for sure, just remember the crushing reality of a game should not divide us, it should unite us to demand better. Even a game that is widely panned, we can all see the good in the final product and hope that next time will be a bit better.
Will you define future game hype by your No Man's Sky experience?