The highly anticipated and much hyped release of No Man’s Sky unfortunately went off like a damp squib, so what went wrong? Like a lot of gamers, I was looking forward to this release and despite the influx of negative reviews, I don’t think it’s a bad game. So what went wrong, here? The issue seems to be the fact this is a so called AAA title produced by a small, indie team and here seems to be where the contention is arising. In backing this project, Sony seems to have been expecting a small developer to produce a product with the scale and scope of a high budget production, clearly an unreal expectation. In order to make the launch date, the development team had to cut features, features which Sony continued to promise right up until launch day, leading to an inevitable outpouring of disappointment and anger from players who paid £40 for what they perceive as half the game they were promised.

I, for one, don’t blame gamers for their anger and frustration, but I do feel it’s important to remember, in all this, the small development team who, without doubt, put their heart and soul into this game. They would have worked blood, sweat and tears to produce this title and meet the release date and despite it not meeting expectations, it shows. The issue with this game isn’t the product, it’s the marketing and pricing strategy which went awry, most likely both areas which were in Sony’s control rather than that of the developer.

Unlike Sony, Microsoft have taken on many indie developments and made them a success, like one of my favourite games, Ori and the Blind Forest. The difference between the two productions is that Ori was kept and marketed as an indie game, despite Microsoft’s backing. Fantastic game as it is, would Ori still have been such a success and received such great reviews if the price tag had been the cost of a AAA title? The answer is almost certainly a no. The lesson here that Sony needs to learn is that you can’t get a AAA title from an indie level investment, no matter how dedicated the team.

So what am I saying? Buy half a game for full price in the hope it later becomes a full game? Certainly not. While I’m sure, in time, the missing features will be added in updates, there’s already far too much precedence within the games industry, particularly the AAA developments, of the ‘just release it, we’ll fix it later’ mentality and this needs to stop. Ten years ago, games companies would never have dreamt of releasing games in such unfinished states, seen all too often over the last few years, and gamers do need to stand up. It’s a real shame a production like this one, with such promise, has become embroiled in this issue and I fear it won’t be the last casualty.

Gamers’ confidence has already hit an all time low, recently, after a steam of disappointing AAA title releases. I can only hope the games industry finally listens to the outcries of the gaming community they service, and relearn the values of beta and testing before release and not on the paying public. But, in this, I fear my hopes may be as sky high as Sony’s…