When Hello Games’ space exploration title No Man’s Sky was released earlier this year, it was marred by controversy. Gamers accused Hello Games of false advertising, saying that the game was not what they expected. The controversy was such that No Man’s Sky was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ensuing backlash around the Hello Games title has now led The Game Awards to reconsider how it does things, with the annual event set to feature more gameplay footage and less CGI next time around. In an interview with Polygon, The Game Awards host and producer Geoff Keighley says that he has “thought about the story of No Man’s Sky a lot,” asking himself “did we create this black hole of hype that the developers couldn’t pull themselves out of? Some of that was authored by me.”
Keighley explains that “there is a good moral of that story and it’s part of what I’m trying to address this year; to have developers be more transparent about the state of their game.” The Game Awards host also notes that when No Man’s Sky was announced, “everyone in their mind’s eye came up with an idealized notion of what it was going to be” but as the Hello Games team was so small, “the vision was never going to be achieved.”
The Game Awards isn’t the only way in which the industry has taken action following the No Man’s Sky controversy. A major Steam redesign was rolled out alongside a new policy – that developers must use screenshots and images indicative of a true gameplay experience rather than artwork or concept images on the Steam pages for their games. Gamers met the Steam changes positively, with many agreeing that it would prevent them from feeling misled.
But, although many welcome the push for transparency, some industry figures have said that this isn’t the only ‘moral of the story’ that people should be taking. The Hello Games Twitter was hacked to say that No Man’s Sky was a mistake, for example, and both the developer and a journalist received death threats when it was announced that the game had been delayed. The argument from some is that while developers should be encouraged to be more honest, gamers should also be encouraged to temper their expectations and not react so fiercely when these expectations aren’t met.
The Game Awards 2016 will take place on December 1.