Before Anthem and Fallout 76 took the title away, the king of the disastrous game launches was undoubtedly No Man's Sky. However, it now seems like the game is on the mend, with Hello Games' recent updates making it way more interesting and fun to play. And those big improvements have apparently led to big sales.
Hello Games founder Sean Murray was invited to GDC to give a talk about releasing games and the difficulties of game development. He discussed the disastrous launch of No Man's Sky, and how his team came back from massive failure and managed to pull the game towards success.
The game had people riding on a massive hype train with its promises of a universe with trillions of planets to explore. Then the game came out and was not nearly as vast, innovative, or incredible as people had been led to believe. Sure, there were tons of procedurally generated planets to land on, but once you landed, there wasn't much to do besides walk around, gawk at the weird wildlife, and leave for the next planet.
However, Murray and his team at Hello Games persevered, reading fan feedback (including all of the negative feedback), and trying to use it to improve their game. As a result, No Man's Sky has become not only a better game, but also (according to Sean Murray, at least) one of the best selling new game franchises ever.
Since launching the No Man's Sky Next update, the game has continued to sell at a fast rate. The general opinion of the update has been rather glowing. As a result, more and more people are buying No Man's Sky to see the new content that's been added in. Murray stated in his GDC talk that it is now "one of the biggest selling new IPs of all time." Although, it's not mentioned if this is including or excluding the numerous refunds the game had post-launch.
The game has also seen a significant jump in concurrent players on Steam. On top of that, reviews have gotten much more favorable, and No Man's Sky can now boast that it has a "mostly positive" rating on its Steam page. Considering the wealth of negative reviews that came out for the game originally, that's a pretty significant achievement.
Murray's GDC talk is a good look into the mind of a game developer who faced tremendous adversity and succeeded in spite of it. No Man's Sky is a much different game than it was when it originally released, and it continues to get some rather big updates to this day. If Hello Games can make this kind of a comeback, maybe there's still hope for Anthem and Fallout 76 as well.