The UK's Advertising Standards Authority is investigating No Man's Sky after it received "several complaints" about the game's potentially misleading advertising.
A representative for the organization confirmed to Eurogamer that the investigation has begun and is focused on the No Man's Sky page on Steam. The ASA's stated ambition is to act on complaints and proactively take action against "misleading, harmful, or offensive advertisements."
According to Eurogamer, the ASA has the authority to have offending ads removed and blocked from appearing again. Since the investigation into No Man's Sky is ongoing, the group could not offer more specifics. However, it did confirm that it reached out to developer Hello Games and Steam operator Valve in an attempt to get answers about No Man's Sky's advertisements on Steam.
A person on Reddit claims they received a response from the ASA regarding its investigation into No Man's Sky. Among the topics Hello Games and Valve have reportedly been asked to respond to are videos that showed No Man's Sky's animal and ship-flying behavior, flowing water effects, and large-scale space combat. The ASA is also apparently looking for answers regarding the stated size of the game's creatures, structures, and buildings seen in screenshots before release.
Additionally, the ASA has questions about the quality of No Man's Sky's graphics as shown on the game's Steam page compared to the launch version and its apparent references to a lack of loading screens, trading systems between stars, and "factions vying over territory."
"We will ensure the advertisers are made aware of any points relating to other marketing material under their control (such as the Hello Games YouTube channel and website)," the ASA stated. It was also mentioned that the outcome of the ASA's investigation into No Man's Sky's Steam page could affect its listings on other marketplaces.
The Reddit user mentioned above, AzzerUK, filed a formal complaint to the ASA over No Man's Sky's Steam page. He told Eurogamer he wanted to reach out to the group not because he was particularly angry (he did not request a refund), but instead because he was alarmed "after seeing just how vastly different the trailers for No Man's Sky were from the actual released game." He added that he felt "properly misled." Someone on Reddit rounded up the differences from what Hello Games talked about pre-release and what was in the launch game.
We'll report back with more information on this case as it becomes available.
In 2012, the ASA rejected complaints about Hitman: Absolution ad, declaring that a commercial for the game "did not glamorize violence, or violence towards women." In 2007, the group had an Xbox 360 ad that it claims glamorized street racing removed, while in 2008 it banned a Stranglehold ad, claiming it could "encourage and condone" violence.
No Man's Sky launched in August on PC and PS4 without a number of features that director Sean Murray discussed prior to launch, which the game and its creators were criticized for. Others still enjoyed the game for what it was; you can read GameSpot's review here.
PlayStation executive Shuhei Yoshida said this month that the strategy Murray took of discussing features that didn't make it into the launch version might not have been the best way to go.
"I understand some of the criticisms especially Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one," Yoshida said. "It wasn't a great PR strategy."
Hello Games is a small, independent studio. Yoshida said part of the problem might have been that Murray apparently did not have a PR person or team to help him determine what he should and shouldn't say. Going forward, Murray has talked about adding new features to the game over time as free DLC, including base-building and more.
In other news about No Man's Sky, a surprise patch was released last month after Hello Games had been radio silent for multiple weeks.