Opinion: In Defense of the No Man’s Sky Delay

By | 5 months ago 

With the reaction to the most recent delay of No Man’s Sky turning extremely negative, one Game Rant writer looks at how this extra delay could improve the overall game.

No Man’s Sky was always going to be an incredibly ambitious project. After all, developer Hello Games has long aimed to give players an entire galaxy to explore, with millions of hours worth of content. As such, it might not come as much of a surprise that the game has occasionally been forced to delay its launch, and just last week the release date of the title was pushed back to August 9th.

Although this delay only held the game back by a couple of months, the response to the news of the extra wait was very negative. Gamers looking forward to playing No Man’s Sky were incredibly vocal about their disappointment, and expressed this dissatisfaction in extreme ways. A minority of gamers actually sent death threats to Hello Games founder Sean Murray, and even did the same for some journalists reporting on the news.

Of course, it goes without saying that the act of sending death threats is never an acceptable response to news, particularly when it is of such a tame nature as a minor delay to a pioneering project. However, even some of the general anger over the news of the delay feels a little misplaced. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that holding fire on release, and making sure that No Man’s Sky delivers upon its promise to the best of its ability, is the best course of action that Hello Games could take.

no mans sky planet

After all, there is a reason why gamers became so enthralled in the nature of No Man’s Sky in the first place. From its initial reveal back in 2013, where the project stole the limelight of Spike VGX in the face of some stiff AAA opposition, Hello Games has promised the possibility of something entirely new. No Man’s Sky is a game about undiscovered territory, and not only in the form of its gameplay; it’s also making its own way in terms of video game experiences in general.

As such, Hello Games needs to spend plenty of time making sure that the game works to the best of its ability. The title has gathered plenty of expectant eyes, and with that comes a level of expectation from the gaming community as a whole. No Man’s Sky is an incredibly exciting project, but that does not mean that any flaws when it does release will not be easily detected by players.

no mans sky colorful

With that in mind, this final period of development where the game can see a final polish is one of the most vital parts of the development cycle as a whole. In the past, a studio pushing back the release of its game to make sure that the product is up to scratch has certainly led to success. Take, for instance, Uncharted 4, which received a delay in order for Naughty Dog to spend time on the game’s ending. The result was one of the most critically acclaimed games of the year, with particular praise for the story.

Nathan Drake’s adventure is not the only example of a successful game having previously been forced into a delay before launch. Another high-profile example is The Witcher 3, with the CD Projekt Red RPG seeing its release pushed back so that the developer could improve upon the game’s open world. Once more, this aspect of the title garnered heavy praise from both users and critics alike when The Witcher 3 saw release.

In both of these examples, the decision to delay the game worked in their favor. More than that, the specific areas worked on after the game was delayed went on to be notable positives of both games once they launched. It’s highly unlikely that these games would have received quite as much praise had they stuck to their original release window and settled for a lower quality experience.

no mans sky monolith

It works both ways, too. On the other side of the coin, there are multiple examples of games that stuck to a rigid release window and that then left something to be desired. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is a very recent example, with the title clearly launched to coincide with the release of the TMNT 2 movie, and the game itself has failed to live up to Turtles games of the past.

Focusing on a larger budget game, another example of a game that could have done with more work is Star Wars Battlefront. The DICE-developed multiplayer shooter may have been a solid financial success, but the game failed to gel with critics and players, in spite of a strong level of surface quality. This lack of depth has had a huge effect on the player base of the game, with the number of daily users significantly less than 2013’s Battlefield 4. A number of features were missing from the game when it released, including a single-player mode, and EA’s Patrick Soderlund has stated that the game’s release needed to coincide with The Force Awakens.

With this in mind, gamers should perhaps be more lenient with No Man’s Sky. The game has no external properties to give it support, nor many peers in terms of game genre. Instead, it’s an ambitious venture, looking to forge its own path into the industry. What’s more, it’s also had a difficult time in production already – not many smaller studios are able to bounce back so quickly from a flooded office.

no mans sky art

Instead of focusing on the negative side of a minor delay to a several year development period, instead there could perhaps be a focus on exactly what this delay could mean in terms of improving the overall game. More time could be spent improving the features of a so-called ‘intergalactic Pokedex’, or even to build upon aspects of the game’s means of deciphering alien languages. Even if the delay is simply to give a final once-over in terms of fidelity, or even to ensure that the production side of the release runs smoothly, its certainly better than a shoddy launch. As it stands, there’s no reason to be angry over Hello Games deciding to bring some “extra polish” to key moments of No Man’s Sky.

In the end, then, these extra two months could truly make a difference to the quality of No Man’s Sky in general. With expectations so high for the launch of the game, and plenty of mystery still surrounding exactly how it will function, Hello Games are perhaps right to sit tight and make sure that the title is in the best shape imaginable when it launches. After all, what’s a couple of months when an entire galaxy is on the line?

No Man’s Sky will be released on August 9, 2016 for PS4 and PC.