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What just happened? It's been five years since No Man's Sky, the Cyberpunk 2077 of its time in terms of hype, launched. Now, after turning one of gaming's biggest disasters into a success, it's finally achieved a "Mostly Positive" rating on Steam.
The hype surrounding No Man's Sky in the run-up to its 2016 launch was so great that developer Hello Games received death threats over a 49-day delay. Talk of 18 quintillion procedurally generated planets and the videos shown off at awards shows had people clamoring for the space sim, only to be disappointed when it launched without many features (including multiplayer), loaded with bugs, and bearing little resemblance to the pre-release trailers.
NMS is a very different game today than the one that launched five years ago
Gaming platforms were inundated with refund demands, and the UK investigated Hello Games for false advertising—it was found not guilty, but the fallout led to Valve banning bullshots from its Steam listings. But the lowest point was arguably when, just over a month after it launched, No Man's Sky fell from a peak of 212,321 concurrent Steam players to fewer than 1,000.
Many companies might have given up at this point and moved on to another project, writing off No Man's Sky in the process. But Hello Games, to its credit, didn't give up. The company continued to put out updates and patches, moving No Man's Sky ever closer to the title people were initially promised. In 2018, the fourth and largest update, Next, did the previously unthinkable: it pushed NMS to the top of the Steam charts. It also helped move its Recent Reviews rating from Mixed to Very Positive.
Due to the huge number of negative reviews the game received upon release, it's taken longer for No Man's Sky's overall rating to improve. Moving from Overwhelmingly Negative to Mixed took two years from launch. Now, three years later, it has finally reached Mostly Positive, meaning 70% or more ratings are favorable ones. The change also means the rating's color changes from a shameful yellow hue to a glorious shade of blue.
No Man's Sky released its latest update, named Frontiers, last week. It adds what Hello Games describes as Moss Eisely type settlements to the universe. Not only can you visit these locations, but you can also become mayor and grow them into prosperous, larger colonies.
Not everyone is impressed by what Hello Games and Sean Murray have achieved. Earlier this year, Thomas Mahler, Moon Studios founder and director of the Ori series, called them—and CD Projekt Red—"snake oil salesmen."
"They [Hello Games] released a bunch of updates, so let's forget about the initial lies and deception and hey, let's actually shower him with awards again, cause he finally kinda sorta delivered on what he said the game would be years earlier. Thanks, Geoff Keighley. Rewarding that kinda behavior will surely help the industry grow stronger," said Mahler.