No Man’s Sky creator Sean Murray has some good advice for Bethesda and BioWare for dealing with community feedback: put up or shut up.
Or more like put up AND shut up.
When No Man’s Sky released way back in August of 2016, it was a complete and utter disaster. The game was filled with bugs, it would crash all the time, and sometimes it would eat your save file and make you lose whatever progress you’d managed to achieve. It was also short, lacking any sort of end-game content and generally felt like a big empty world with a few things to look at and not a whole lot to do.
Consequently, No Man’s Sky launched with bad reviews and a very angry player base. For years they’d been promised a game that would be as infinite as the universe itself, and instead they were provided not even a quarter of what they were told.
For most games, that would be the end. But not No Man’s Sky; against all odds, Hello Games turned it around. With relentless determination, the developers provided free updates in such magnitude and quantity that two years later they’d completely changed the game’s script and provided exactly what they’d set out to do.
And they’re still making more. No Man’s Sky Beyond will add VR support and an overhauled graphics engine that will make the game even prettier, along with various updates to the game’s burgeoning multiplayer.
Game Director Sean Murray (no relation to the dude writing this article, by the way) has some good advice on how big game makers like Bethesda and BioWare might be able to do the same: focus on pumping out content and not engaging with pissed-off fans.
"There have been a number of games that have since come out, had a polarising launch, and that explosive mix of loads of people playing it but also problems,” Murray said at the UK’s Develop conference. “And I can see EA, Microsoft, or Bethesda try to placate players by just talking to them, but for right or wrong, it just doesn't really work. You see this all the time when a big publisher will talk to the community and try to solve the problem and then get embroiled, taking up more and more of its headspace."
Rather than wasting resources on appeasing a roiling player base, Hello Games focused its efforts on developing No Man’s Sky, and the only way to do that was to limit distractions and not get bogged down in internet flame wars.
"We went about two years without talking to press at all, and we went about three months without saying anything to the community either. That was really hard. I sat down so many times and wrote the perfect blog post that was going to explain everything about the game's development, and the road map going ahead. But I could see that it didn't hold credibility with regards to where we were at."
Admittedly, saying nothing can sometimes be just as bad as saying anything at all--just look at Anthem’s subreddit to read an almost daily post from a player angry at BioWare’s radio silence. But in an email to GamesRadar+, Murray sticks with his advice.
"Talking about features when a game's already out isn't that credible or interesting. Your actions are so much more important than what you say."