It’s no secret that No Man’s Sky was an absolute disappointment for most fans at launch. Sean Murray, the founder of Hello Games took full responsibility for the state of the game, and after going quiet for two years, he and his team emerged with a shiny new version of No Man’s Sky to appease the fans. Not only did this silent tactic work, but it also reinvigorated the entire gaming communities perception of Hello Games and Put No Man’s Sky back on the map. Sean Murray explained his side of that experience at a developers conference stating:
We went about two years without talking to press [about No Man’s Sky] at all. And we went about three months without saying anything to the community either. That was really hard. I sat down so many times and wrote the perfect blog post that was going to explain everything about the game’s development, and the road map going ahead. But I could see that it didn’t hold credibility with regards to where we were at.
Now, in 2019 many developers have not heeded the lessons learned from the whole No Man’s Sky / Hello Games debacle. Namely, Bethesda of Fallout 76 fame and EA, developer of Anthem, have been under heavy fire after releasing less than finished products. Since then, both developers have apologized time and time again, making excuses and offering fans incentives to come back for more. Murry advises them to follow his lead.
There have been a number of games that have since come out, had a polarising launch, and that explosive mix of loads of people playing it but also problems. And I can see EA, Microsoft, or Bethesda try to placate players by just talking to them, but for right or wrong, it just doesn’t really work. You see this all the time when a big publisher will talk to the community and try to solve the problem and then get embroiled, taking up more and more of its headspace.
It’s definitely an interesting tactic to take, and Murray knows better than anyone after working on No Man’s Sky that silence may be the key to coming out on top. The counterpoint may be that different developers of different sizes have to handle problems differently. Only time will tell if Murray is in the right or wrong.