No Man’s Sky has been the subject of much controversy since its launch back in August, as many of the game’s advertised features were not present at launch, and some are still not available even after the game’s first massive update. After receiving numerous complaints of false advertising, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority launched an investigation into Hello Games’ marketing for No Man’s Sky, specifically focusing on whether or not the game’s Steam page was misleading. After a two month investigation, the ASA has ruled in favor of Hello Games.
The ASA’s investigation into the Steam page tackled multiple allegations of misleading advertising, including complaints about the user interface and aiming systems, missing structures, large-scale battles, spaceships and sentinel behavior, animal behavior, graphics quality, speed of galaxy warping, loading screens, trade convoys, and factions. The ASA ruled that none of these complaints were a breach of advertising code.
“We understood that the screenshots and videos in the ad had been created using game footage, and acknowledged that in doing this the advertisers would aim to show the product in the best light. Taking into account the above points, we considered that the overall impression of the ad was consistent with gameplay and the footage provided, both in terms of that captured by Hello Games and by third parties, and that it did not exaggerate the expected player experience of the game. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.”
While much of the content featured prominently in the game’s screenshots and trailers is extremely rare, the ASA has ruled that this is simply due to a combination of the procedurally generated nature of the game and Hello Games’ advertising casting the game in the best light.
“This computer process embodied algorithms that determined, for example, the probability of a player encountering a creature with a particular physiology, exhibiting a particular behaviour or existing in a particular habitat. They said the game contained 18 quintillion planets, each with its own terrain, weather, flora and fauna, and was effectively infinite in size or scope. It was unique, therefore, in that the user experience was not scripted and each user would have their own individual experience.
“Hello Games said that, as each user’s experience would be very different, it would be difficult to recreate the exact scenes from the ad. However, they believed it was fairly straightforward to locate content of the type shown in the ad and to demonstrate that such content was commonly experienced by all users who played NMS for an average period of time.”
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