People with bipolar mood disorder experience periodic swings from extreme euphoria to extreme depression. Last week I suggested No Man’s Sky could be the bipolar equivalent for video games after the game’s prerelease hype was met by post-release condemnation. Now it’s looking like the pendulum is swinging back to the positive side with the generally favorable response to last weekend’s Foundation Update and the news today that the UK’s Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) has found that No Man’s Sky’s trailers, screenshots and text descriptions on Steam were not guilty of false advertising.
One of the trailers on Steam was the one that launched euphoric expectations when it was shown during Sony’s stage presentation at E3 in 2014. The ASA investigated both Hello Games, the developer of No Man’s Sky, and Steam for false advertising based on 23 complaints they received claiming the trailers and accompanying advertising materials were misleading.
The investigation appears to have been thorough and detailed. The ASA compared the Steam content to in-game footage provided by Hello Games, third-party footage found on YouTube and ASA’s own gameplay experience.
The ASA considered a range of complaints raised about No Man’s Sky such as whether animal and ship behavior, graphics quality, building and interface design and more were misrepresented on Steam. They concluded that several complaints that focused on the failure to find an exact match between elements found in the game and elements shown in the advertising materials were ”not upheld” because procedural generation of quintillions of planets makes coming across an exact match unlikely.
They also found that the gameplay experience shown in the trailers was not substantively different from the gameplay experienced by players who played the game normally over a reasonable period of time. In addition, they concluded that cosmetic changes made to visual elements in the game during development did not constitute false advertising.
ASA mentioned two cases in which they were not able to reproduce scenes show in the trailer: a ship flying under a rock formation and an animal moving a large tree. They concluded these were incidental aspects of the game and were unlikely “to influence materially a consumer’s decision to purchase the game” and hence were not misleading.
Some of the complaints focused on the claim that the graphics shown in the advertising material did not accurately portray the graphics in the released version of the game. The ASA agreed with this claim although not in the way the complainants intended. The ASA reported that
They did note that they were not able to observe certain water and lighting effects shown in two screenshots but concluded this discrepancy was not important enough to be considered misleading.
There’s more, much more, and interested readers can read the full report by the ASA which is detailed, extensive and clearly written. The upshot is straightforward. After a thorough investigation the ASA found
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.
For No Man’s Sky it looks like the bad times have ended and the good times are here.