A screen grab from No Man’s Sky.

Outer space survival game No Man’s Sky is under investigation for false advertising

The action adventure title published by British studio Hello Games is under fire in its home country for advertisements that don’t properly represent the actual game

No Man’s Sky, the huge outer space survival video game, has been embroiled in controversy ever since it came out in August. 

Since day one, players have been frustrated by the developers’ lack of clarity regarding the presence of multiplayer (or lack thereof), and the stark difference between the game’s early trailers and the released product. Many feel that lead developer Sean Murray was misleading when he spoke about the game’s features in the months and years before it came out.

That controversy has reached a new peak, as the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched an investigation into the game’s advertisements after receiving enough complaints to warrant a look. Specifically, the investigation will look at the game’s page on the Steam storefront, which features trailers and screenshots that players believe do not represent the final product.

If the ASA finds that its regulations have been violated, the organisation can impose sanctions and have the ads essentially removed from the internet, according to the web publication Eurogamer. Theoretically, the endgame here is for the supposedly misleading trailers and screenshots to be removed from official online storefronts.

It’s worth noting that the ASA has different standards to the American Federal Trade Commission, even allowing easy submission of inaccurate advertisements by the public on its website.

No Man’s Sky promised an infinitely varied universe where players could find majestic creatures and unique topography on any given planet.

The game as it exists now is still impressive on a technical level, but there’s no denying that the trailers didn’t completely depict the game accurately.

Still, there’s an argument to be made that No Man’s Sky has been unfairly put under an microscope, as the game was made by a small development team, which inherently limits it. Games with much larger budgets and development teams have undergone similar changes between their announcement and their release, but few have been targeted quite like No Man’s Sky.

Hello Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: A world of broken promises