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Earlier this year, we reported that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK had begun an investigation into Hello Games and Valve regarding No Man’s Sky after multiple people had filed complaints with the agency. Today, the ASA has issued their ruling on the matter, along with details into what they were examining and how they reached their decision.

The ASA was investigating the No Man’s Sky steam page, as that is where the complainants pointed at, citing the trailers, description, and screenshots as things that they believed were misleading The ASA took a look at it under 4 different sections of the CAP Code, including two separate entries for Misleading Advertising, Substantiation (as in, unsubstantiated claims) for another, and finally Exaggeration. In the end, they ruled that no further action was required as they did not find that either Hello Games or Valve were in breach of the code in regards to No Man’s Sky.

 

A large part of the ruling appears to be in regards to procedural generation and what that can mean for the game and expectations players should have. A key statement to understanding this ruling, and important to hold in mind as looking at it is as follows:

The summary description of the game made clear that it was procedurally generated, that the game universe was essentially infinite, and that the core premise was exploration. As such, we considered consumers would understand the images and videos to be representative of the type of content they would encounter during gameplay, but would not generally expect to see those specific creatures, landscapes, battles and structures. We therefore considered whether the game and footage provided by Hello Games contained gameplay material of a sufficiently similar type to that depicted in the ad.

In this statement, you can see that it is an attempt to marry the understanding of player wishes and hopes, to the realities of what a procedurally generated universe entails. In particular, one of the challenges faced was that very few are likely to see what is precisely depicted no matter what happens, should the procedural generation function properly.

Some complaints (one that you may have heard over the internet at large as well) is that various parts of footage on the No Man’s Sky store page cannot be found in the game. Hello Games was able to provide footage depicting similar buildings generated in the game for the ASA, and were able to do similar things for most features such as battles, interaction between player and non-player characters, animal interactions and more. There were some points that the ASA was not able to match to footage or their own experience in-game (yes, the ASA played No Man’s Sky to investigate), in particular, there were no signs of an animal moving trees or a ship flying underneath rocks similar to the ad. In both cases, they ruled that they were brief shots and unlikely, on the basis of the store page, to materially influence a consumer’s decision to purchase the game.

In regards to the quality of the in-game graphics, the ASA looked into what hardware the advertising graphics had been created on and whether or not the quality of the graphics was greater than what the game could produce. Hello Games provided information that the graphics for the video were created using a PC of average specifications (as per the Steam Hardware survey), and were recorded at 1080p/30 FPS, with anti-aliasing on. Hello Games further stated that most PCs of players with a typical gaming computer could run the game at 1080p/60 FPS and that the visual quality had been improved since launch. Additionally, footage from Hello Games, both from internal and external sources, showed graphics that were of much higher quality than the video and comparable with the screenshots. There was a minor exception in relation to water in two screenshots, and a type of illumination in the video, but the ASA ruled that it wasn’t significant enough to be misleading.

There’s a lot more to read if you want to check out the full ASA ruling, but at this point, you probably have an idea of the angle they approached and ruled from. It is important to note the ASA was only investigating the Steam page and not any other claims that were made by the developer or in other forms of advertising.

Do you agree with this ruling? Does this ruling impact your opinion of No Man’s Sky in any way? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

More About This Game

Don Parsons

News Editor

I've been a gamer for years of various types starting with the Sega Genesis and Shining Force when I was young. If I'm not playing video games, I'm often roleplaying, reading, writing, or pondering things brought up by speculative fiction.



  • The steam page was the most honest thing to read about the game. This was most likely in-part to protect themselves from valve potentially taking action against them. The steam page for No Man Sky, regardless of it’s advertising and promises elsewhere, was the most on-point about the experience within the game which was written up by hello games. One look back through time, one can see the most honest write up about the game from Hello Games.

    It’s a shame that Hello Games wasn’t found guilty, as they most assuredly are guilty of false advertising. But in it’s defense they did try and remain as honest as possible about the game on their steam store, can’t say anything about their other store pages as I never checked those out. Maybe if people filed the report linking to their kickstarter page (which I’m too lazy to link to archives of, at the moment) they would of been found guilty of false advertising. But alas, they didn’t and it was the steam page instead.

    Meh, whatever though. I’m kinda use to see people get away with things now at this point in my life anyway. I don’t play the game and the company has been on my boycott list for a long time now. So it’s not like anything that company releases will effect me anyway as I won’t be giving them any sort of income nor attention they seek.

  • Bitterbear

    Then again, it’s the same ASA that banned this ad for being too dangerous:

  • Michele

    Does this ruling impact your opinion of No Man’s Sky in any way?

    No, but it does impact my opinion on ASA. It’s clear they don’t have the knowledge to do this kind of investigation.

  • FlamingoJet

    This is very disappointing news.

  • Feniks

    There’s a sucker born every minute, and the games industry thrives on them.

    People pre-order games blind and fall for marketing tricks and that will never change. Besides when you come down to it all advertising is false advertising, no?

  • RHELSAGE

    Well what do you know. an advertising agency ruling that advertising isn’t in violation of their rules. An entire industry that uses and thrives on dishonesty and deceit, carefully designed to stop at just shy of outright lies…Nothing new here. Carry on, stop buying games until they are in the bargain bin at Walmart.

  • Monty AlKanzy

    Why?

  • Bitterbear

    Taken from The Huffington post:

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that Heinz’s “Can Song” advert should not be broadcast again in its current form after nine people complained that the ad encouraged unsafe practices or could be dangerous for children to copy. Over 1.6 million people viewed a version of the ad on YouTube.

    *snip*

    The ASA said there was a risk that viewers could cut themselves on used cans when trying to emulate the ad.

  • Monty AlKanzy

    I…got nothing. Reminds me of the ” caution. this drink is hot” on a f*cking coffee cup.

  • Bitterbear