Sometimes, as media, and surely as players, we wish a studio would just… stop talking. Just be quiet. Nothing you say is going to help, so just zip up your marketing team’s mouth and buckle down and do the work. When people are already predisposed to disbelieve what you say, don’t say anything – show.
That’s something No Man’s Sky boss Sean Murray says he learned first-hand. As part of his keynote for Develop Brighton this week, he explained that after No Man’s Sky’s initial launch – an absolute bomb punctuated with death threats, dev hacking, social media meltdowns, and accusations of consumer deception – he avoided doing press interviews and dashing off the “perfect blog post that was going to explain everything about the game’s development” in favor of just shutting up. “I could see that it didn’t hold credibility with regards to where we were at,” he told listeners. Nodding to some of the other floundering titles – like Anthem and Fallout 76 – he subtly offers the same advice to them.
“There have been a number of games that have since come out, had a polarising launch, and that explosive mix of loads of people playing it but also problems. And I can see EA, Microsoft, or Bethesda try to placate players by just talking to them, but for right or wrong, it just doesn’t really work. You see this all the time when a big publisher will talk to the community and try to solve the problem and then get embroiled, taking up more and more of its head space.”
Will shushing up work for other studios? Maybe. No Man’s Sky has since pushed out multiple wide–ranging, well-received, totally free expansions and secured the adoration of fans. Do struggling games have anything to lose?