Sony Exec Responds to No Man's Sky Controversy

Hello Games had an "incredible vision" for what they wanted to make.


PlayStation executive Shawn Layden appeared on the Live with YouTube Gaming show last night and discussed a number of subjects, including the reaction to controversial space game No Man's Sky.

He said developer Hello Games had an "incredible vision" for what they wanted to make (via DualShockers). The executive added that No Man's Sky, which features procedurally generated worlds, is something that had never been done in gaming. He also remarked that the team was very small (only six people developed the game) and had a "very huge ambition."

The game launched in August for PS4 and PC without a number of features that director Sean Murray discussed prior to launch; the game and its creators were criticized for this. Layden acknowledged that Hello Games is "still working at it."

"They're still updating it. They're trying to get it closer enough or closer to what their vision was," he said. "I played a lot when it came out."

"I think what we learned from that is that we don't want to stifle ambition. We don't want to stifle creativity," he added. "We don't want to put people into slots where they must execute against an action adventure path or a fighting path or a shooting path. Perhaps over time [No Man's Sky] will reveal itself to be all it can be."

Layden went on to praise Hello Games for their huge ambition for No Man's Sky, while acknowledging that "sometimes you just don't get all the way there at the first go."

"Nobody in development wants to say that they can't do a thing, right? No one wants to tell someone, 'No I can't do that for you,'" Layden said. "People are really trying. I think looking at the different industries I've had the privilege of working, the gaming industry is where everybody has the courage to say 'yes.' And they want to try to realize their ambitions. They want to try to make that vision. No one slinks away from a huge challenge. And sometimes you just don't get all the way there at the first go."

Murray, No Man's Sky's director, has talked about adding new features to the game over time as free DLC, including base-building and more. The game's latest update came out at the end of September and fixed bugs and other issues.

In September, The UK's Advertising Standards Authority launched an investigation into No Man's Sky after it received "several complaints" about the game's potentially misleading advertising. After that, the No Man's Sky subreddit was temporarily closed, after being described by its moderator as a "hate-filled wastehole."

No Man's Sky was the second best-selling game in the United States in August, behind only Madden NFL 17. The game failed to make the top 10 chart for September, while it didn't make the top 20 chart for PlayStation Store games that month.

More recently, the Hello Games Twitter account tweeted about No Man's Sky being "a mistake," but it turned out that this tweet was the result of a hack.

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Avatar image for elmeanno

I do think that the development team need to be candid and give us something to go on. No updates since the end of September is not good enough when you consider that this was a game billed as being regularly updated and to have no indication of what and when these may appear, is not going to help Hello Games build bridges with their community.

Avatar image for bej4490

People are forgetting NMS did do something right the first time, and that is charge 60$ for an unfinished space sim after telling everyone it was ready! you see they raked in the cash, and blew the game off themselves so this was the first time a game has charge 60$ for an early alpha and claimed its finished

Avatar image for jaimestark89

Just some dumbass spin doctor who talks a lot without actually saying anything. I'm not even convinced he knows who Sean Murray is. First of all, stop saying it hasn't been done before. Daggerfall did it. 20 years ago. And second, there's no award for "most ambition". I've thought of bigger concepts while taking a shit and unless they actually end up becoming something I wont expect people to start wiping my ass for me, even if the paper does look better than No Man's Sky. And lastly, who cares that it was six people?? No one forced them at gunpoint to lie and lie and lie that they could make this game when it was apparent to them for months and maybe even years that they couldn't. It's saying something when the most honesty that Hello Games has ever showed was in a deleted tweet. 6 people, 100 people, a gerbil, there's no excuse for lying, especially when it made them millionaires.

Avatar image for x-2tha-z

Sean Murray - the new Peter Molyneux.

Avatar image for geminij13

I want to hear what Sean Murray has to say about what this Playstation executive Shawn Layden said. Layden says that "I think what we learned from that is that we don't want to stifle ambition. We don't want to stifle creativity," Considering that I've heard that Sean said he was pressured into releasing No Man's Sky prior to his wanting to. What is Sony's defense for this?

Avatar image for razrabbit

"Incredible vision" is one thing, but showing people things in a trailer that literally aren't even in the game is blatant false advertising, and they deserved every little bit of the crap they got for it.

Avatar image for consolehaven

@razrabbit: Well, this problem has existed for a long time now, 10 years almost. Remember the scandalous killzone trailer for ps3 at E3 many years ago? Devs create a vertical slice of gameplay and try to make it into that game. What makes it worst today is the importance placed on pre prders.

Avatar image for Foxhound71

@consolehaven: I think No mans sky is incomparable to any other game. I mean if you really look into all the controversy it will seem shocking that they haven't been sued. Never mind the lack of communication.
The killzone trailer doesn't even compare. At least they admitted it was what they intended the finished product to look like, and in my opinion they got there.
No mans sky took full advantage of the pre-order craze that's going on unlike any other game before and hopefully after.

Avatar image for Geogyf

@Foxhound71: They have been sued.

Remember Mass Effect 3 was also sued because the dev spoke about 18 endings. While the ME3 case had some merit, the rest of the game was really good. So it wasnt a case of both dev lies and rest of the game is crap. That meant that the case fell over when Bioware made the extra ending (I am not saying that they made it especially for the case, but it certainly sealed the deal against a weak case). So in the end it was just a stupid artistic vision, which isnt a crime!

NMS is much more different, since we have multiple dev comments that turned to be false, plus there is also the trailer (which has several disrepancies vs the actual game). So the case vs NMS is much stronger.

Not sure if the suers can win though, its quite possible Hello games can avoid a sentence with their extenuations (their offices were flooded and lost many game data) and their possible willingness to improve the game without wanting money (see free DLC above). Their lack of communication is sure off-putting though.

Avatar image for GhoX

The gaming industry is where everybody has the courage to say 'yes', regardless of the facts.

Is this going to be in the game? Yes.

Is this going to look like it did at E3? Yes.

Is this a great game worthy of hype? All the media says yes.

Such callous disregard for consumer trust is not courage. It's self-centred greed, and they do it because they know they can "get away" with it. Sure, they may lose their reputation, and may even get investigated for misleading advertising, but at the end of the day all that extra sales simply overwhelm the cons in the fool-proof plan of fooling consumers.

Avatar image for dani_i89

The 2 difficult questions this guy is asked - about NMS and the power of Scorpio - and he sidesteps them without actually answering them.

Phil Spencer is a far better representative than this guy.

Avatar image for meta_sentinel

I had my doubts. Never bought into the hype. Sean Murray always appeared shady to me. Now I'm even more vigilant whenever I hear "procedurally generated" thrown around.

Avatar image for Geogyf

@meta_sentinel: Procedurally generated is a cool concept, but it doesnt work in all games.

Essentially you have some templates and the game draws from these templates to create a stage.

Problem with No Man Sky is that it had very few templates in correlation to the amount of its planets/stages.

For example the stages of XCOM 2 or the Bloodborne Chalice levels are procedurally generated.

But the system works in this games because it is much simpler.

That said NMS had a very unique system which tagged the planets ex. planet A = A095954986

each variable= qualities of the planet. ex 0=hydrogen, 9=carbon, etc. When you left the planet, it deleted it and kept its tag.

When you returned, it pulled its tag and you were seeing the planet. Really nice system btw.

Avatar image for ExoticCharm

Sony promoted this game like it was the second coming of Christ from beginning to end. There's no way they didn't know prior to launch that the product wasn't ready. It was a $60 game that should have been $30 at most, had tons of missing features, and a large number of glitches. Now that they've squeezed as much money from people as they can they then shift their opinion to try and match what gamers are saying just so they can sound like the good guy, like a sociopath that fakes human emotion to get people to trust them.

These apologetic comments from companies only amount to something if they learned their lesson. In this case, the lesson is that you should do some research and follow-ups with developers on the product that you are promoting to make sure it is of good quality. These are the same people that promoted Driveclub when it released at a horribly broken state, promoted SFV with missing features, and promoted 7 Days to Die which might be the most horrific port of any game I have ever played (insane amounts of glitches, missing content, bad performance, etc.) Sounds to me like Sony never learned their lesson, and I doubt they ever will.

Avatar image for jinzo9988

Sometimes, something isn't done in gaming for a good reason. I would put procedurally generated worlds into that category... at least as far as that being the main draw of why people are supposed to play a game and continue playing it for a good length of time. I knew it would turn out to be meaningless excess and that's exactly what it was. Digital diarrhea. They forgot to build an actual game around it, and I could see it coming from a mile away from all the hype leading up to its release.

With Street Fighter V and No Man's Sky having fooled people, can we kindly stop and agree to not give a company any of our money when they have the balls to charge full retail price for an unfinished product? Can that not be tacked onto the ever-growing list of disgusting business practices in gaming?

Avatar image for Godlikan

Sure... but u make 60 buck easy at first go.

Avatar image for Iemander

Can anyone explain to me how No Man's Sky is supposedly one of it's kind when we have many open world sandbox games littering Steam? As far as I know, Starbound blows NMS to bits and pieces in terms of ambition with far more options, it costs far less, got far far higher critical reviews is way more fun, graphics be damned (Not that NMS is anything to brag about anyway).

NMS overpromised but hey, who cares, everyone already paid Hello games for it right? They had huge ambitions towards the size of their wallets and it shows. They did an awesome job in that respect.

Avatar image for simonbelmont2

@Iemander: Yep, on PC games like that seem a dime a dozen. NMS over-promised and was over-priced as well, a niche game shouldn't get hyped like that and it should've been cheaper.

Avatar image for NaturallyEvil

So Hello Games couldn't have any help from Sony for an ambitious game concept that 6 people need to finish before Sony makes them rush the release. But Team Ico gets 10 years for a full staff to finish a PS2 game, and remake it for 2 more console generations before having to release it.

Sony clearly did not give a shit about this being good, they were just there for the hype and cash-in.

Avatar image for beantownsean

They really should have just released this as a $20 Steam Early Access game.

Clearly it wasn't ready for Prime-Time, so that would have at least allowed them to charge a fair price while still developing the game.

Not to mention avoiding all the hate and dissension.

Avatar image for simonbelmont2

@beantownsean: Yep, I've been saying this for ages.

It seems like a no-brainer however Sony and Hello games couldn't figure it out.

Avatar image for jinzo9988

@beantownsean: My God, the praise for the game would be absolutely unreal if they did that. If they cut down on the pre-release hype and released what they had in the initial version on Steam under Early Access, people would be singing a completely different tune. It would've been a shining example of what Early Access is actually supposed to be.

Avatar image for edinko

Its nice that they are selling a "vision" for a nonexisting game for 60. Despicable all of them. Hello games and Sony both

Avatar image for straightcur

"the gaming industry is where everybody has the courage to say 'yes.'"

Sometimes it takes more courage to say 'no'.

Avatar image for catsimboy

Well if you can't get there in the first go DON'T CHARGE $60 FOR IT! They'll have to have huge cajones if they even dare to think about charging money for any updates that add stuff to the game that should've been in there from the start.

Avatar image for consolehaven

@catsimboy: My personal opinion is this: Devs have had issues announcing upcoming games since before the launch of PS3. They work on a vertical slice of gaming and introduce the concept and then keep working. Many devs don't reach their target. The issue then is : don't open your pockets to pre-orders before the final target is disclosed and make sure people preordering know exactly what they've bought by a video link on retail outlets' websites. If you buy after a game launches, then the comsumer at least has some share of the blame, but not before, not like what's happened over and over again.

Avatar image for Barighm

Sony couldn't throw some dollars their way to increase the staff? Maybe delayed the game to meet the promised quality standards? Hello Games might have been overly ambitious, but Sony still had to okay the game. It's just as much on them.

Avatar image for rodoxthedark

it needs random quests to do when you arrive on a planet, like hunting a rare aggressive animal, or saving some npcs from somthing or mine certain stuff for npcs, basically if they rip of some skyrim style quests it could be good

Avatar image for cavindar

O Thank god I did not get this game and got Elite Dangerous instead for the xbone

Avatar image for ivanov70

@cavindar: yep me too despite all the hype I knew ED would be better.

Avatar image for Trev786

They have to add some great new features to this game or its gonna be a lost cause. Going from planet to planet, only to scan an animal that looks pretty much the same as the other animals you already saw, with one minor change like the removal of a tail, and shooting big gold rocks got stale in about two days. Game is interesting, but incredibly redundant and bare bones.

Avatar image for rodoxthedark

I really hope they release an update at some point that turns it into the game they said, but I'm not holding my breath, or they could just make it vr compatible and ill forgive them too...

Avatar image for captainjimhazard

Stuck at work and cant wait for your next fix of procedurally generated entertainment? Open up microsoft excel and hold the down arrow.

Avatar image for Dilandau88

@captainjimhazard: My play style is more the right arrow key.

Avatar image for captainjimhazard

@Dilandau88: haha classic. Hold shift mate, its psychedelic ;)

Avatar image for MuffintopX

It was kindof Sony's fault for pushing this up to the $60 price point when it was originally showcased as an indie title. I don't think the pressure to commit to more than this small team could handle and develop a AAA game would be there if they got to make the indie game they originally wanted for $30.

Avatar image for Geogyf

@MuffintopX: Hello Games was in charge of the price..

Also Sony wanted to give more funding to Hello games (in return for more % profit), but they refused.

From the same article:

Sony wasnt the publisher, but only the physical copy distributor.

Same thing with Namco (physical distributor only) and Witcher 3

OR Pillars of Eternity and Paradox Interactive (physical distributor only).

Avatar image for deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

@MuffintopX: The pressure of having to develop it for PS4 as well probably didn't help. Even CDPR said the biggest difficulty with The Witcher 3 was supporting 3 platforms at once, and they had a team of more than 300.

Avatar image for Divisionbell

@pongley: this was only one platform though

Avatar image for deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

@Divisionbell: It was PC and PS4. Initially it was only a PC game when it was announced at VGX. It wasn't until E3 the next year that they announced the PS4 version.

Avatar image for rranft

I really admire this statement:
"We don't want to put people into slots where they must execute against an action adventure path or a fighting path or a shooting path. Perhaps over time [No Man's Sky] will reveal itself to be all it can be."

This is critical in today's publishing world - this shows a willingness to step outside of the "safe zone" of "yet another Battlefield".

Avatar image for creepywelps

Honestly never understood the hype in the first place.

Avatar image for Bastion00

@creepywelps: Lots of people followed this game closely. While this game could have been potentially overhyped if all the features promised were released, there were several things promised that were either not put in at all or only existed by underwhelming technicality.

Avatar image for xantufrog

I got an email from them (HG) the other day, following up on a bug I reported. That was something.

Avatar image for deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

@xantufrog: I got one a couple of weeks ago. Looks like they're following the (ill-advised) Valve strategy of development communication.

Avatar image for naryanrobinson

It really doesn't matter what anyone says;

there's no angle, no spin, no argument, no excuse for the con job that was this product.

It's frankly appalling that they would even regurgitate an excuse.

Avatar image for bruceny

"Perhaps over time [No Man's Sky] will reveal itself to be all it can be." Wow, yes perhaps that $60 product you sold will be worth it, only time will tell. Essentially, pre-order now so that you can play the game advertised 2 years after release, perhaps. These companies are selling us a seed at the full price of a fruit and tell us to watch it grow and perhaps, perhaps, we'll get an apple in 5 years. That's not acceptable.

Avatar image for mvilleguy88

@bruceny: Yep, it's trojan horse early access games.