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No Man's Sky changed the video game hype train forever


Love it or hate it, No Man’s Sky was the most important, influential video game of 2016.

I’m not talking about the rights and wrongs of developer Sean Murray’s pre-release interviews, or the state of the space game at launch. Enough has been said on both those topics already. I’m talking about the fallout, and what it means for video games in 2017 and beyond.

What’s clear is some players felt misled by Hello Games. Some demanded a refund from Sony. Some got one from Valve. Whatever your feeling on it, No Man’s Sky caused one hell of a shitstorm. But this wasn’t a by the numbers video game shitstorm. This one went mainstream – and the industry noticed.

Amid the madness of No Man’s Sky’s launch, I spoke with a number of video game developers who said the whole thing had affected either the way they planned to discuss their upcoming game, or even the features it would include. One developer told me the industry was watching and learning from the No Man’s Sky debacle with keen interest. The upshot? Show, don’t tell. Whatever you do, don’t do a No Man’s Sky.

This seems particularly relevant when it comes to games that want to do something different, something new, or something that’s hard to explain. The esoteric, the experiential, or the fusion of genre. The kind of game where you look at a carefully crafted reveal video and think, bloody hell, that looks amazing, but what exactly do you do?