It looks like the Hello Games studio may be getting into some legal trouble regarding their title No Man’s Sky. While many players were in fact, very frustrated by the game and felt mislead or just plain lied to by the studio, suing the studio may actually cause something worse to happen.
Lately the big buzz has been that Hello Games has gotten into some major trouble with the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency in the UK) and has to answer for what is being titled as false advertisement. (Full list on Reddit here.) This, however, might set a precedent that could be bad for gamers everywhere though as well as studios everywhere. Misleading advertisement and falsely advertising are two separate things that sometimes are not very simple in their variations. It is no secret that gamers have been upset with the studios for misleading them regarding what type of game they would be getting in No Man’s Sky but false advertising could be a bit of a stretch. Advertisements promised things didn’t really say you would be getting epic space battles per say nor did it promise insane PvP multiplayer or PvE but it did skirt close to saying those things. Since it did not explicitly state that however the accusation of false advertisement may be found to be well … unfounded. Misleading however is a problem in the gaming industry (If you think we are crazy we actually discussed this in a previous article back in February. We also predicted that No Man’s Sky wasn’t what players thought it was.) Misleading in and of itself is not always a terrible thing though when it comes to advertisements and video games in general. Heck half of what made the overarching plot of Kingdom Hearts great is the misleading lie that Xehanort told you in Kingdom Hearts 2. And by lie I mean THE WHOLE PLOT.
No one is saying Hello Games did the right thing in their misleading. This isn’t like having a crazy plot twist or letting a games description hide details of the type of story you are getting because the developers want to keep people from figuring out everything before the game releases. (That’s a very real thing. Ask anyone who has every had a Non Disclosure Agreement when reviewing a game.) A bit of misdirection can add some mystique and wonder for a game when done correctly. (I would make a list for you but if I did I would ruin those games for you.) In fact this is a device that is used in both book and movie mediums as well but not something that people have ever wanted to file lawsuits over in those forms. Yes a $60 video game is a higher price to pay but what precedent would this set. Would it really be worth it to have the bar for video game advertisement set to give away crucial details that might have made a better gaming experience had certain thing stayed hidden? Yes we would have gotten a real idea of what type of game Halo 5 would have been and we would have been better informed regarding Overwatch being nothing more than a set of muliplayer maps without any real story but we also wouldn’t have gotten as interested in games like Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy 10 or had as much fun being pleasantly surprised at how much fun Star Fox 64 was or had as much fun discovering how fun and not stupid Tokyo Mirage Session #FE was. Seriously Final Fantasy 10 advertisements did not tell you about the actual plot of the game and Kingdom Hearts original trailer while interesting actually didn’t give you a clue about the real story of the game. What if we had sued when we found out about those games since they didn’t advertise their content accurately. What if we sued games for having inaccurate “advertisement” because the ads didn’t make the game appear as good as it was? Isn’t that still false advertising? What if this applied to other mediums as well? Could we sue the creators of great films for not letting us in on what type of film we were getting? Isn’t it more fun to have a pleasant surprise in games, movies, and books?
I actually did see all of the above moments in game though, albeit, not commonly.
I am not a fan of being mislead negatively in any artistic medium but I don’t want to ruin any opportunity for producers and developers to try to positively surprise us either. I don’t like the idea of developers being scared of taking a risk in their presentation that could pay off as a better gaming experience for all of us just because they feared the public backlash. I know it is wrong to not deliver on all the promises people make in their promotion of the game but perhaps we should find a different way to voice our frustrations then simply suing people because the final game was either very different or slightly different than the ads made the game out to be. No Man’s Sky, while showing several images that made it seem more adventurous than it was, did specifically identify itself as a space exploration game but because we were so hyped over images and clips that were actually only a small percentage of the game we instantly claimed it falsely advertised itself. Did Hello Games mislead us? Yes, but use false advertising? Not quite, given the fact that they could simply add in some of the missing parts via patches later on. (LIKE TON’S OF OTHER GAMES DO!) We are at Nerd Union are just as upset as you are about the game but let’s not ruin other developers right to surprise us with the unexpected in the midst of that frustration. Lets instead try to make some more honest reviews. Let’s wait to hear if customers are genuinely happy with the end product before we give hype to a product we haven’t actually played ourselves. Let’s do better as a people who play video games.
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