No Place for Death Threats for No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky, the ambitious galaxy exploration game developed by Hello Games, has been delayed. It was originally planned to release in June this year but was pushed back to August, most likely for the sake of polish and bug fixes. Delaying a game is a common practice that’s been done countless times, and it makes a lot of sense considering how ambitious the project is. Making literally an entire galaxy’s worth of content is a large undertaking for any studio. While the community by and large understood Hello Games’ stance, there were a select few who are “passionate” and dumb enough to send death threats to the director of the game Sean Murray.
To say this behavior is irrational would be an understatement. The level of bile and anger thrown at Hello Games for having the audacity to respect and refine a project they clearly cared enough about to remain undaunted after their office was flooded is just baffling.
Not only was Hello Games the target of these threats, but even journalists reporting on the delay. Jason Schreier who wrote for Kotaku reported on this delay, had his sources confirm the truth, and was also swarmed by angry entitled gamers for going off of a rumor. Say what you will about Kotaku, but there’s a reason why the phrase “don’t shoot the messenger” started. If you consistently attack the people who break bad news, then no one learns the truth once it stops being delivered and the whole world will wallow in ignorance.
The idea gamers will never be happy with anything regarding a product or game, usually labeled as gamer entitlement, has been used as a means of silencing legitimate anti-consumer concerns, such as the always online DRM of the recent SimCity. or Microsoft trying to impose restrictions on a hardware level with their initial pitch of the Xbox One. But in those cases, there was a legitimate ethical concern regarding business practices, but there’s absolutely no excuse for what’s happening with No Man’s Sky.
Outside of No Man’s Sky, the only other major video game to their name is the physics puzzle game Joe Danger from 2010. It sold well and kept the lights on, but when the new console generation was on the horizon, rather than play it safe with more Joe Danger or stick to standard bestselling staples like a shooter or RPG, Sean Murray decided to pitch a game that was going to take a large investment of time and money. Not only did Sony agree to help fund it, they gave Sean Murray a presence at E3 2014 to pitch his idea and garner early buzz.
To go from a relatively unknown indie developer to having an entire E3 showroom floor enraptured and fascinated by a game that stands out from the crowd is enough to make anyone a ball of excited stress. Then the studio’s Guildford office flooded during the 2014 holiday season and an untold amount of assets were lost. Murray was quick to make light of such a horrible turn of events on his Twitter account, but it reveals how grounded this development studio is where it’s too easy to lump things into the two camps of AAA and indie.
This is a director and studio that are actively working on something they know won’t fit into any easy categories. Thus, losing a certain amount of mainstream appeal, and are so confident in this product they’re willing to charge the full retail price of $59.99 as opposed to what some have come to call the standard indie price of $19.99.
Despite how easily it can be dismissed, harassment is psychological poison, especially in the social media age, and Murray doesn’t deserve this treatment. For all of the fury the gaming community can bring down on questionable practices being enforced by major studios and corporations, Murray is simply a game developer who wants his game to be its absolute best, not some PR spin doctor or out of touch executive, and this level of mental abuse will only lead to No Man’s Sky being worse.
To quote the great Shigeru Miyamoto, “a delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is forever bad,” and even in a console environment full of downloadable software patches, that’s still true. Sure, it’s disappointing we won’t be able to play it for a couple more months, but it’s nothing compared to the disappointment of a rushed release like Assassin’s Creed Unity. No Man’s Sky is one of those games that only comes around every once in a while and deserves its fanbase’s support, not its wrath.