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No Man's Sky's Steam Page Didn't Mislead Gamers, Rules UK Ad Watchdog (arstechnica.com) 76

Shortly after it officially launched in August on PlayStation and Windows, No Man's Sky -- the game that sees the protagonist explore space and experience uncertain places -- was accused of false advertising. Players felt that the pictures and videos used to promote the game on its Steam page didn't represent the sort of things players might expect to encounter in the game. Today, a UK advertising regulator has ruled the opposite -- the game didn't mislead gamers. Ars Technica reports: The complainants -- who had been part of a semi-organized campaign upset with the state of the game at release -- insisted that the screenshots on the storefront had seemed to promise various features that turned out to be absent from the final game. These included things like the appearance and behavior of animals, large in-game buildings, large-scale space combat, loading screens, a promised system wherein the different factions contested galactic territory, and general graphical polish. Hello Games' defense rested on the fact that No Man's Sky is procedurally generated, and that while players would not enjoy the exact experience shown in promotional images, they could reasonably expect to see similar things. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) agreed, saying: "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. 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." It also ruled that the developers hadn't misled customers over graphics: "We understood the graphical output of the game would be affected by the specifications of each player's computer, and considered that consumers would generally be aware of this limitation."
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No Man's Sky's Steam Page Didn't Mislead Gamers, Rules UK Ad Watchdog

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  • LOL (Score:3, Funny)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @06:22PM (#53396865)

    Another worthless government organisation.

    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gsnedders ( 928327 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @06:25PM (#53396891) Homepage

      It's an industry body, not a governmental one. It has its power basically from a perpetual threat that if the industry doesn't regulate itself the government will legislate, and nobody wants that to happen.

      • Re: LOL (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No conflict of interest there at all, no sir.

      • Re:LOL (Score:4, Insightful)

        by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @06:42PM (#53397003)

        If this is what you call self regulation then it's garbage.

        It's like saying VW emissions are perfect. Look that car is off and I'm measuring zero. Or BP's an environmentally friendly company, their logo is green and the poster on the wall shows people hugging trees.

        Focusing on the Steam page is a load of utter shit from a company which most definitely grossly mislead people, and frankly a good chunk of the customers probably didn't even look at the Steam page when buying based on the previous stories from the developer's mouths.

        If a game with such an unprecedented return rate didn't "mislead" consumers then maybe they should have given the job to someone with eyes and a functioning braincell.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          If this is what you call self regulation then it's garbage.

          This is an example of why self-regulation generally means no effective regulation.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            And let me guess, your answer is overly intrusive government regulations that end up doing the exact opposite of whatever it was that was intended, requiring ever increasing and Draconian modifications to existing regulations whenever someone finds a effective work around. All run by unelected bureaucrats who can't be fired short of Rape or being a KKK member.

            On the other hand, THIS IS A FUCKING VIDEO GAME why the FUCK do we need government involved?

            • Re:LOL (Score:4, Insightful)

              by another_twilight ( 585366 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @08:02PM (#53397663)

              That 'too much government regulation is bad' is true does not mean that government regulation is bad.

              If government regulation is applied and ends up doing the "exact opposite" of what was intended, then the only solution is not "ever increasing and Draconian modifications".

              On the other hand, THIS IS A FUCKING VIDEO GAME why the FUCK do we need government involved?

              It's strange. I would think that one of the few places where government unarguably has a role is in mediating the interaction of individuals, especially with respect to trade. Whether or not that's for something you think is important, or just "A FUCKING VIDEO GAME".

              A company produced and sold a product that a considerable number of those who purchased it found to be substantially different to what they thought they were buying. Maybe some jumped on the bandwagon. Maybe some fooled themselves. That happens with a lot of games. This was on a different scale.

              Industry self-regulation has failed to prevent this and in failing to punish it has increased the chance of it happening again. Fail for self-regulation. I'm not sure how _less_ regulation, as you seem to think more appropriate, is going to help. Bad or excessive government regulation may make things worse, but there are alternatives to 'bad' and 'excessive' despite your implication to the contrary.

              Oh, and to tun your argument on it's head - THIS IS [THE] FUCKING VIDEO GAME [INDUSTRY], if it's so meaningless/trivial, why are you involved?

              • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

                A company produced and sold a product that a considerable number of those who purchased it found to be substantially different to what they thought they were buying. Maybe some jumped on the bandwagon. Maybe some fooled themselves. That happens with a lot of games. This was on a different scale.

                The problem is, the only thing they can go after is what is represented and what is actually available.

                They were told the Steam Store Page of the game was misleading.

                Chance are, it wasn't - it represents the game as

            • And let me guess, your answer is overly intrusive government regulations

              Ahhh yes. There's only nothing and overly intrusive. Absolutely nothing in between.

              Are there any normal people on Slashdot or does this place have only extreme left and extreme right people bitching against each other?

              • by GNious ( 953874 )

                Are there any normal people on Slashdot or does this place have only extreme left and extreme right people bitching against each other?

                It's an American website, as many here like to point out, so'eh ... no.

              • Yeah, because that is exactly what I said.

                Let me ask you a simple question, does any regulation state its goals, and if it doesn't (or no longer) reach those goals, is it repealed?

                I don't know of ANY regulation that has a repeal clause in it if it doesn't meet its goals.

                I don't know of ANY regulation that has a cost benefit analysis requirement before being employed.

                I don't know ANY regulation that self monitors for effectiveness.

                I don't know ANY regulation that was revoked when it was found to be ... ineff

            • THIS IS A FUCKING VIDEO GAME why the FUCK do we need government involved?

              We need government involved because fraud is antithetical to a free and fair market. However, we don't need them any more involved. Their fraud is already covered by existing law.

              • Fraud is solved not boy legislation (there are already laws) and regulations (there are already laws). Fraud is solved in the courthouses.

            • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

              yes.
              the opposite of no regulation is soul crushing 100% control from A to B.
              there is no in between /s

            • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

              also: mr libertarian also apparently thinks fraud is ok, as long as it involves a video game.

              • a video game that he didn't buy. If if affected him personally, he would be having a total hissy fit.
                • Fraud it solved in the courts. And no, I wouldn't have a "hissy fit" for a $50 game (or whatever it was). Class action lawsuit maybe (like this one) works just fine. The problem here is that the whining cry babies didn't get the result they want, so my guess is that it is time to RIOT!!!!!!!

  • Hundreds of thousands of people were basically WRONG.
    Because REASONS.

    These kind of rulings only incentivize other development companies to do the same thing.

    • Or consumers to do some research or wait for reviews. This game reminded me of another game from several years ago that was met with similar criticisms. Anyone remember Spore, which also had the same procedural generation and infinite possibilities?

      Exact same hype train and same result. On a side note I still haven't bought another EA game due to getting fucked by EA's DRM and their refusal to do anything about it.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        People should wait for reviews but that doesn't give companies the right to outright lie in advertising.

      • Wait a second right there. I played both Spore and NMS. Spore had hype, but it also had content. granted, the content didn't rise up to the hype, but I obsessed over that game for hundreds of hours. Back then I didn't afford to buy it but I bought it on GOG once I could.

        Also, Spore has a rating of 88% on Steam, 96% over last 30 days.
        No Man's Sky has a rating of 30% overall and 26% over last 30 days.

        So... nowhere near "same result".

        • I have no idea if Spore got better or not, but from what I played of it before it crashed and then EAs shit DRM and customer service rendering the game further unplayable felt more like just average. I wouldn't be surprise if they put out some extra content and tightened up the game to where it might be something more than a 5/10 experience, and that's even accounting for the inflated game rating scale where anything below 80% isn't generally considered to be good.

          I haven't played No Man's Sky, but I had
          • never played spore, but have played NMS.

            NMS is more like a very interactive tech demo than a game.

            even with the foundation update, there are many important things missing.

            1) the asignments given by npcs are very limited, and revolve around "hey, get me this item/material", and no real "yeah, pirates are coming from this nearby system and shooting the shit out of our freighters, can you go blow them up please?"

            2) big missing features: users cannot interract with each other, world deformation is not persisten

  • I never understood the backlash this game got. It's a video game. And it's fun. Do what you did with the other games you didn't like and GTFOver it.
    • by sd4f ( 1891894 )
      It had one cool feature, and that was hopping in your space ship and leaving the planet you were on, to go to another one. Apart from that, the game was ridiculously repetitive, and even worse, was missing a lot of features that were being claimed in order to advertise the game.
  • Steam Page (Score:5, Informative)

    by FFOMelchior ( 979131 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @06:37PM (#53396979)
    Just to clarify, this ruling is in regards to their Steam page. Most of the blatant OMS false advertising was done through Sean Murray in interviews and conferences. Unfortunately, this doesn't cover that.
    • Re:Steam Page (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @09:12PM (#53398139)

      Someone please mod this +1 Informative, because this a key point. When people talk about "misleading advertisement", I also believe they are generally talking about expectations set by Sean Murray, who seems unable to constrain himself to describing features he knows will ship, and instead seems to describe the game as he'd imagine he would like it to become.

      I'm a professional game developer, so naturally I've seen the "behind the scenes" view for a number of AAA title releases, especially the discrepancy between the released information and the true state of the game at the time. Most people would be shocked at how fluid the design of a game can be, how many iterations it takes to get things right, how many crazy ideas get tried and thrown away, and sometimes, how late in development things can really come together, especially if you're developing a lot of new technology. You have to be *extremely* disciplined when talking about your game, especially if you've got a hard deadline, because it's almost inevitable that many cool ideas and features are going to get cut simply because there's no time to polish them properly.

      Unfortunately, some people like Peter Molyneux have demonstrated that they don't have the proper temperament for talking to the press or the public, because they can't stay on script, or can't simply tell the honest truth about a feature that's still very much up in the air. I suspect Murray is like this as well, and unfortunately, he damaged the reputation of the company because of his lack of media discipline.

      • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @09:50PM (#53398423)

        Er, just to clarify, by "mod this up", I meant "mod parent up." I'm not quite shameless enough to actually request mods for my own post.

      • This is pretty much the only legitimate complaint about the advertising of the game I've seen. Murray was pretty vague about a lot of things, and I think a lot of that had to do with people asking questions and the answer being technically true, but not really in the way they were expecting.

        Multiplayer is a prime example. The game was always intended to have an aspect of multiplayer, so when people ask "does it have multiplayer?" you see Murray go "Well, yes, but..." and all people seem to hear is the "yes"

  • " It also ruled that the developers hadn't misled customers over graphics: "We understood the graphical output of the game would be affected by the specifications of each player's computer, and considered that consumers would generally be aware of this limitation." "

    so on a recommended hardware or one exceeding recommended hardware the graphics should have been as advertised....

  • Sigh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @06:53PM (#53397091) Homepage

    Stop buying shit before you know how good (or bad) it is.

    You are perpetuating shitty over-hyped products that flop once people actually get their hands on them.

    If you didn't part with your money until it was released, reviewed, tested, a handful of brave souls had tried it out, etc. then companies would have to put out decent products first time rather than rely on pre-release hype to sell enough that they don't have to care that it's a turd they're selling.

    It's not even a new thing, this sort of shit was happening long before Duke Nukem Forever and people STILL KEEP BUYING SHIT.

    Buy a game after it's been out for a year, and you know whether or not you want it. It'll be cheaper, you'll buy half the amount of games you actually do, they'll be much better quality on average and - best of all - after the first year you won't give a shit about "missing out" because year-old games will still be "new" to you.

    • The greedy, dishonest company.

      If you didn't part with your money until it was released, reviewed, tested, a handful of brave souls blah blah blah

      Name a consumer product where a company can lie about its features and tell the consumer to pound sand and get away with it. Volkswagen lied through their teeth about your Golf's emissions? Grab your ankles, n00b, it's your own damn fault.

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        Because "We pass the emissions test" is an entirely verifiable fact.

        Whereas "The AI is like nothing ever seen before, the world is procedurally-generated, the graphics are amazing" are not. They are subjective. At best, they throw buzzwords at you that are easy to comply with while still trolling out a turd of a game (I can make you a procedurally generated game, if you like. Give me ten minutes). They are marketing.

        And you fell for it.

        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          Because "We pass the emissions test" is an entirely verifiable fact.

          As are the false claims of a software company. "Our software does XYZ" when it actually doesn't, is a lie, and not subjective. Which is the point of the complaints. And no, consumers should not have to do research to find out a company is simply making shit up about their products capabilities.

          If I buy a game console that prominently displays a DVD video logo on it - then it damn well better play DVD's.

          If I buy a car that advertises GPS

    • And you get to play it with tried and tested GFX drivers.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )
      To be fair, I blame the hype.

      The blame should be equally split between the company that creates the hype and the consumers who eat the hype.

      This is why I never buy a game that I produces too much hype, it doesn't matter if it's a good game or not, it can never live up to the hype.

      Its the same with TV series, I refuse to watch a lot of popular ones in case they end like Lost or Battlestar Galactica (TWD is pretty much a given it ends with everyone you like dead).
  • Not misleading? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And yet, right this minute, the Steam page for the game shows content that isn't in the game, and will never be in the game.

    How is that not misleading?

    • Re:Not misleading? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2016 @10:17PM (#53398575) Homepage

      Can you be specific? I just rewatched the two videos on the Steam page, and apart from a number of minor graphical differences, there was nothing in there that I haven't seen in some form while playing the game. Caves, megafauna, alien monoliths, space battles over huge freighters, trading posts, walker robots, space stations - everything's in there.

      Well, there were sub-second shots of a large beast pushing trees aside and what looked like a crashed freighter - not seen those, but they were only shown briefly as set decoration, not gameplay-related.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Why would anyone engrave "Elbereth"?

        A Unicef Clearasil
        Gibberish and drivel
        O Mennen mylar muriel
        With a hey derry tum gardol
        O Yuban necco glamorene
        Ended nytol, Vaseline!
        Sing hey nonny nembulat.

  • The NMS crap has leaked in to Slashdot! Hasn't any of these people ever watched a Lego commercial?

    • The NMS crap has leaked in to Slashdot!

      We have been arguing about this for ages now. Where were you?

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