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No Man’s Sky ‘did not mislead’, ad regulator rules

No Man’s Sky developer Hello Games has had a rough two months. Its recently-released Foundation Update, which adds a hoard of new features and upgrades to the game, should work to improve relations with gamers. Also working in the studio’s favour is the outcome of an investigation into the game’s advertising.

The procedurally-generated adventure game, set in one of the largest in-game universes ever conceived, was atop many a gamer’s wishlist for years, but upon release it felt the wrath of the masses. One of the primary criticisms of the game was that it didn’t fulfil the promises set out in its marketing campaign.

It was for that reason that an advertising regulation board investigated No Man’s Sky for false advertising. The UK Advertising Standards Authority confirmed at the time that it had received numerous complaints about the game, primarily focused on its Steam page and assets some argue weren’t representative of the final state of the game.

The authority has come back with its ruling, saying No Man’s Sky did not mislead consumers.

As reported on Eurogamer, the ruling means that all screenshots, videos and text currently listed on the game’s Steam store page may remain. It’s unknown how this ties into Steam’s recent changes as to how games can be prompted on the digital distribution platform.

The ASA reached out to both Valve — owner and operator of Steam — as well as Hello Games during the investigation. However, as mentioned in the aforementioned article regarding Steam store pages, Valve has nothing to do with how a game is promoted and detailed on a store page, and as such, Hello Games felt the brunt of the investigation.

Hello Games reportedly went to great lengths to defend itself, providing footage of the game to argue that it did not mislead consumers.

Thankfully for the studio, the ASA concluded that due to the game’s procedurally generated nature, experiences varied from player to player, and as such it was difficult to gauge how it should be presented.

“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,” the ASA said. “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.”

You read the full report here, although it’s quite lengthy. Here are some key points to take from it:

On The UI

  • The ASA admitted that it felt No Man’s Sky interface and aiming system had undergone cosmetic changes from when the footage was first recorded to release date, but it did consider this to be a make or break factor in a consumer’s decision to buy the game.

On Bodies Of Water

  • The authority felt that bodies of water and structures featured in game were “broadly consistent” with those shown in ads.

On Space Battles

  • Hello Games admitted that space battles were “more unusual”, but that they did happen. This led the ASA to conclude that the use of space battles in ads was not misleading.

On Exaggerated Action Sequences

  • The ASA attempted to replicate the shot of a ship flying underneath a rock formation, but failed. It concluded, however, that it was part of a “brief shot within a wider sequence”, and that in the context of the ad as a whole, it was unlikely to mislead.

On Animals Shown In Trailers

  • Footage of large animals roaming through lush planets was shown in the E3 2014 trailer. The ASA concluded that while it did not observe this during actual gameplay footage provided by Hello Games, it considered it “fleeting and incidental”, and as such, felt it was unlikely to mislead.

On Graphics

  • The ASA said that it acknowledged complaints about graphics, but that game performance varied from PC to PC, and believed the common Steam user would know this. It admitted that the footage provided showed that the game was capable of producing graphics of a higher quality than the visuals shown in trailers and graphics, therefore meaning they did not mislead.

Read the rest of the report.



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