No Man’s Sky Under Investigation by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority

Posted by at 9:05 am on September 28, 2016

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a British watchdog, has launched an investigation into No Man’s Sky and its marketing campaign. The decision follows widespread disappointment in the ambitious space sim after years of mounting anticipation.

Speaking to Eurogamer, a representative of the ASA said the investigation had been prompted by “several complaints” alleging a large disparity between the game’s portrayal in advertising, and its state at launch.

The controversy around the many features that players felt led to expect in No Man’s Sky, but which didn’t appear in the final game, has been bubbling steadily since its release in July. At the end of that month, we reported on a Reddit thread that listed all such features. It’s pretty lengthy.

Screenshots and videos on the Steam store page for No Man’s Sky depict just a few of these, including large-scale ship combat, more advanced animal behavior and higher-quality visuals than appeared in the final game.

The PC version also suffered from a number of technical issues when compared with its PlayStation 4 counterpart (and that wasn’t exactly bug-free). This led to a number of PC customers seeking refunds via Steam, and rumours circulating on Reddit that Valve were offering more generous terms on their usual refund policy given the alleged false advertising. This is why No Man’s Sky’s Steam page has a unique box above the purchase button, stressing that Steam’s standard refund policy applies. For information, Steam offers a no-questions-asked refund if customers make the request within 14 days of purchase, and have logged fewer than two hours’ play time.

As the ASA does not comment on ongoing investigations, there’s little more official news to report, but the investigation has flared up on Reddit after user “AzzerUK” discussed his correspondence with the watchdog there. Speaking with Eurogamer, AzzerUK said he hoped game marketing might become more honest as a result of the investigation, but felt that his fellow Redditors were less charitable: “most people… wanted to see Hello Games ‘punished’ directly”.

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