Investigation Rules Hello Games Did Not Mislead Gamers With No Man’s Sky’s Steam Advertisement

Some of you may remember a while back we reported that Hello Games were being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority due to claims of Hello Games misleading gamers with the marketing of No Man’s Sky on Steam. The investigation looked into a wide array of claims including; not being able to find the creatures depicted in the game, the game’s graphics, the speed of the warp in No Man’s Sky, the ability to “Fly smoothly from deep space to planetary surfaces, with no loading screens, and no limits” and No Man’s Sky’s factions system. The results are now in and, as you can tell from the title, the ASA have ruled that Hello Games did not mislead gamers with No Man’s Sky’s marketing. Let’s break down each claim made against Hello Games, and what the ASA ruled.

NOT ENCOUNTERING WHAT WAS SHOWN IN THE ADVERTISEMENT

Hello Games Response

Hello Games [from now on will be abbreviated to HG] explained to the ASA that due to the game being procedurally generated the probability of finding what was depicted in the ad would be very unlikely. HG explained that “as each user’s experience would be very different, it would be difficult to recreate the exact scenes from the ad”. HG also “noted that some elements were rarer than others; for instance, the larger the scale of a space battle, the more unusual it was, which they believed was to be expected because it made for a more rewarding experience.”

ASA

The ASA ruled that because the summary of No Man’s Sky “made clear that it was procedurally generated”, it was expected that players would understand any video or images used in the marketing of the game would be “representative” of the gameplay they would encounter but not necessarily the same as the gameplay they would encounter. The ASA also “acknowledged Hello Games’ assertion that the larger battles were more unusual, and noted the footage they provided of a materially similar type of battle”. Essentially HG provided footage of a space battle similar, but not the same as, the one shown in the trailer. 

No Man's Sky

GRAPHICS

Hello Games Response

“HG stated that the videos in the ad were produced using a gaming PC of average specification (based on the standard shown in Steam’s survey of typical user hardware), above the minimum specification. They said the quality of the graphics shown in the ad was inferior to the graphics the game was capable of exhibiting and was representative of the quality of the graphics of the NMS experienced by an average player. The videos in the ad were recordings of gameplay from the game, and the static images were in-game screenshots. They stated that the videos uploaded to Steam had an original resolution of 1080p and a framerate of 30fps with anti-aliasing. Performance of the game on a gaming PC typical of those used by Steam customers would run at 1080p with 60fps. They noted that post-release updates to the game also provided further visual improvements. They provided screenshots of the game uploaded to a third-party website by a player, which they said illustrated the high visual quality that players were able to achieve.”

ASA Ruling

The ASA made it clear they understood that the graphical output of the game was dependant on the player’s PC and it’s specs, and it was assumed that players would be aware of the specs needed to run No Man’s Sky. Because ad footage had been captured using on a “PC of broadly typical specification for the platform on which the ad appeared”, and videos were uploaded with a lower frame rate from the game itself, it was ruled that the images and footage used on Steam were not misleading.

IN-GAME WARP SPEED VS AD WARP SPEED

Hello Games Response

HG explained that there a number of in-game factors which could influence the warp speed for the player. As well as the players hardware, the complexity of the system the player warps to is an issue. Systems that have a higher abundance of planets and wildlife will take a longer time to warp to. “In the video in the ad that featured warping, the player warped to a sparse system with a single planet, one moon, and hardly any life; this took 3 to 5 seconds”. HG confirmed that they had not edited the video in question.

ASA Ruling

HG provided footage that showed a warp a couple of seconds longer than the one shown in the ad, but the ASA understood that this was due to the complexity of the system that was warped to. During gameplay the ASA even experienced a warp that lasted 16 seconds. They acknowledged that some players have experienced longer warp times, but stated that as the ad showed general gameplay differences in speed were not considered to be significant. It was ruled that the ad did not mislead in terms of the games warp speed.

No Man's Sky

“FLY SMOOTHLY FROM DEEP SPACE TO PLANETARY SURFACES, WITH NO LOADING SCREENS”

Hello Games Response

HG explained that there were no loading screens involved in flying from deep space in a solar system to the surface of a planet. “They said the environments and characteristics were generated in real time while a player moved through the game, including when they warped between systems, during which time the player could continue to interact with the game.”

ASA Ruling

The ASA explained that they were aware that the warp screen could be considered a loading screen. However, as the warp is used only to travel between solar systems, this was not misleading as it is still possible to travel from deep space to a planet’s surface without a loading screen. The ASA also stated that the warp screen was not a loading screen as it didn’t interrupt the gameplay experience due to it being consistent with the gameplay before and after initiating the warp. The warp is the only thing close to a loading screen in No Man’s Sky, but because it was shown in the ad, the player was therefore aware of it before purchasing and so was not mislead.

FACTIONS VIE FOR TERRITORY

Hello Games Response

HG explained that the story relating to the factions would be uncovered as the player explored the universe and interacted with faction-related NPCs. HG went on to say that solar systems were controlled by a single faction, and when interacting with a NPC from a particular faction they would sometimes mention a dislike of the other factions. There was also the chance to partake in battles between factions, and supporting one faction in that fight would increase the player’s reputation with that faction. HG chose the word “vying” as it indicated the ongoing struggle.

ASA Ruling

The ASA understood that consumers would understand that there was more than one faction, with each faction holding a certain territory and some aspects would relate to tensions between the factions. The ASA also understood that players could engage in space battles by siding with one faction during the battle, and that this played a role in the player’s reputation with that faction. Noting the explanation from HG, the ASA ruled that the description did not differ from the relevant gameplay features.

FINAL RULING

This is the exact quote from the ASA’s post detailing the case against HG. The word “Code” refers to the CAP Code, the guidelines the ASA used to judge the No Man’s Sky ad.

“We understood that the screenshots and videos in the ad had been created using game footage, and acknowledged that in doing this the advertisers would aim to show the product in the best light. Taking into account the above points, we considered that the overall impression of the ad was consistent with gameplay and the footage provided, both in terms of that captured by Hello Games and by third parties, and that it did not exaggerate the expected player experience of the game. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code”

What do you think of this result? Did you feel mislead? Let us know what you think in the comments! Or you can tweet us @games_bulletin and let us know!

Source :

ASA Post

Ben Robinson

I've loved video games for as long as I can remember. Recently found a love for reporting video game news and decided to start Games Bulletin, and have been enjoying every step of the journey. Also an avid anime fan and wannabe foodie.

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