"We have one chance to make a game like this and we must not blow it up," said Hello Games studio director less than two months before the launch of the No Man’s Skyspace survival title. It was a game that promised hills and valleys on 18 quintillion planets created by procedural generation. That amount of content was delivered, but No Man’s Sky was richer in bugs than meaningful mechanics when it came out, and the things the small indie team promised were fake.
The most famous lie in which No Man’s Sky was caught was related to the multiplayer component. The developers claimed that it is possible to come across another player while playing, but that the world is so huge that the chances of it are very small. Research quickly revealed that this was not true and that multiplayer was not implemented in the first version of No Man’s Sky.
Despite the force of controversy, bad reviews, and name-calling from all sides, No Man’s Sky was a very successful game. On Steam, it was played by more than 212,000 players at the same time on the first day, and on PlayStation, the game had the most downloads in August. However, that statistic dropped very quickly - just a month later, just over 2,000 players were playing the game on the PC at the same time.
But Man’s Sky had pretty repetitive gameplay and numerous technical difficulties when it came out, the story was literally nothing, the interface was awkward, and the game didn’t visually look like it was portrayed on promotional materials. To make matters worse, the Hello Games studio retreated into a mouse hole after the release and did not respond to any criticism.
Fortunately, the situation began to improve a few months later. In the first update, the mechanics of building bases and objects were expanded, and various modes for playing the game were added. The second update brought a new type of vehicle and improvements to the PlayStation 4 Pro, while Atlas Rises expanded the story a year later and brought the promised support for the co-op.
Things just got better after that. Players began returning to No Man’s Sky in 2018, primarily with the arrival of an expansion called Next that improved graphics, brought third-person gameplay, underwater exploration, and full multiplayer. Later expansions turned the game into an MMO, giving it an optional VR mode, cross-play support, and a host of other add-ons. Eventually, in five years, No Man’s Sky grew into a game that delivered more than what it had initially promised out of total disappointment.
The key thing in the whole story was that all the upgrades and updates for No Man’s Sky were free to all game owners. And although the game is now six years old, future upgrades are also under development.
But Man’s Sky has had ups and downs in its life cycle, almost to someone in rhythm. The game picked up the title of the biggest disappointment, but also the biggest redemption in modern gaming. She hasn’t won over some players yet, but those who have returned to the game have mostly found the entertainment they are looking for.