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The No Man’s Sky page on Valve’s Steam platform didn’t mislead customers despite a litany of gripes, the UK’s advertising regulator has ruled.In a comprehensive Advertising Standards Authority ruling responding to 23 complaints made by disgruntled gamers, the regulator concluded that the pictures and videos used to promote the game on its Steam page did represent the sorts of things players might expect to encounter in the game.
Neither Valve, which operates Steam, nor Hello Games, which made the game, are on the hook for any further action.
The complainants—who had been part of a semi-organised 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 behaviour 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’ defence 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 ASA explained:
Hello Games said that, as each user’s experience would be very different, it would be difficult to recreate the exact scenes from the ad. However, they believed it was fairly straightforward to locate content of the type shown in the ad and to demonstrate that such content was commonly experienced by all users who played NMS for an average period of time.
They stated that all material features from the ad that had been challenged by complainants appeared in the NMS universe in abundance. While each player experienced different parts of the NMS universe, there was a low probability that anyone playing the game as intended would fail to encounter all these features in some form within an average play-through.
The 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.” It concluded:
Taking into account the above points, we considered that the overall impression of the ad was consistent with gameplay and the footage provided, both in terms of that captured by Hello Games and by third parties, and that it did not exaggerate the expected player experience of the game. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
The game had a troubled time in the months following its release in August, after it became clear that some features that were promised during development hadn’t made it into the final product.
Critics, who awarded the game mixed reviews, agreed that No Man’s Sky had suffered from considerable over-hyping, which manifested in a chorus of disapproval from the gaming community.
That said, developers are continuing to support it, and released a major update on Sunday.
The ASA also contacted Valve during its investigation, but the US-based company successfully argued that as it did not handle store pages for the games it sold, it should not be considered culpable.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK