Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida knows how you feel, No Man’s Sky players. He says he enjoyed the game, but understands why people are so upset about director Sean Murray’s tendency to over-promise and under-deliver.
No Man’s Sky, which came out in early August, immediately drew controversy when players discovered that features Murray had talked about—like characters being able to see one another—weren’t actually in the game. In the days and weeks after launch, Murray and his studio stayed silent about these missing features, ignoring requests for comment from sites like Kotaku as fans grew angrier and angrier, feeling as if they’d been misled into buying a game that didn’t deliver. Murray, who was previously active on Twitter, hasn’t tweeted since August 18.
Over at the Tokyo Game Show (a game show in Tokyo) Eurogamer’s Dan Silver was wise enough to probe Yoshida for his thoughts on No Man’s Sky, which Sony helped market and publish. Yoshida, who is always candid, told Silver that he’d liked the game but thought they could’ve done a better job with the whole “public relations” thing, ya know?
“I understand some of the criticisms especially Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one,” Yoshida said. “It wasn’t a great PR strategy, because he didn’t have a PR person helping him, and in the end he is an indie developer. But he says their plan is to continue to develop No Man’s Sky features and such, and I’m looking forward to continuing to play the game.”
It’s true. Earlier this month as I was traveling to PAX and other places, I spoke to a number of developers both AAA and indie about No Man’s Sky. There were a lot of different takeaways. One, the most cynical view, was that the “over-promise” strategy might have misled people but it worked—No Man’s Sky sold extraordinarily well. Other developers said this was a good learning experience, and that the better solution might be to stay mum about a game’s features until they know for sure that those features will actually happen.
Ultimately, Murray should have addressed the missing features and inconsistent marketing as soon as the game launched. If he had offered any sort of explanation—even something as simple as “Hey, we wanted to get this stuff in, but we’re a small team working 16-hour days and we just didn’t have time to make it all work”—it would have gone a long way to mitigate the anger. The fact that he and his studio still haven’t addressed any of this is, quite frankly, absurd.