The ambitious space game No Man's Sky was released in 2016, and the game sputtered at launch, arguably failing to live up to what some expected from the game. It was the biggest launch ever for its small indie developer, Hello Games, and the studio opted to stay quiet in the wake of its release, rather than engaging the community in constant communication about its future plans. While that approach might have been a challenging one to take, it was the right call, according to studio head Sean Murray. Speaking at the Develop conference recently, Murray talked about how "it just doesn't really work" to talk to fans and try to "placate" them after a launch gone wrong.
"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," he said, as reported by Games Radar. "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 head space."
He didn't mention any titles by name, but EA recently had a rough launch with BioWare's Anthem, while Microsoft's Sea of Thieves didn't explode in popularity like it might have hoped for, and Bethesda's Fallout 76 also had a difficult launch.
Murray went on to say that Hello Games spent about two years not talking to press, and months not connecting with fans about the state of No Man's Sky.
"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," he said.
According to GI.biz, Murray said it was "probably" the right thing to do to stay quiet for so long.
For No Man's Sky, it seems the strategy worked out--even if it was difficult. The game's huge "Next" update in 2018 was very well received, and GameSpot praised the game overall for its slow, disciplined approach to getting back on track. The general sentiment around No Man's Sky appears to have changed to be more positive overall.
It'll be interesting to see if games like Anthem, Sea of Thieves, and Fallout 76 can tell their own redemption stories. The developers of each game continue to support their games.