In brief: In the history of gaming, few titles managed to generate as much hype before crashing so hard quite like No Man’s Sky. But now, around 22 months since it was released to almost universal condemnation, the space exploration sim has defied the odds and climbed to the top of the Steam charts, all thanks to the Next update.
Back in 2016, the anticipation over No Man’s Sky was so high that developer Hello Games received death threats when a seven-week delay was announced. The game proved very popular upon launch, hitting over 212,000 concurrent players on Steam, but that number dropped drastically as people found it failed to match its pre-release videos and lacked important elements such as multiplayer.
While not everyone hated the game, many felt they had been lied to over what it offered. A slew of buyers started demanding refunds, while the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 23 complaints that the “game content was not as depicted or described.” The fallout led to Valve banning bullshots from its Steam listings, and No Man’s Sky was regularly mocked on social media. Just over one month after it arrived, concurrent player numbers fell to fewer than 1000.
But despite the setback, Hello Games and its founder, Sean Murray, never gave up on No Man’s Sky, releasing several updates (Foundation, Path Finder, and Atlas Rises) that improved the game by adding elements such as base building and land vehicles. But it was last week’s fourth and biggest update, Next, that changed everything.
With so many new features and graphical overhauls, Next has turned No Man’s Sky into the game people were expecting in 2016. Additionally, what is arguably the most critical aspect has now been fully implemented: multiplayer. The update has seen NMS climb to the top of the Steam charts and is currently the seventh most popular game on the platform, with 90,651 concurrent players today (at the time of writing). Moreover, Steam reviews have moved from Mixed to Very Positive, with 82 percent of user reviews in the last 30 days being positive.
It’s been quite a journey for No Man’s Sky, one that proves how persistence and perseverance can pay off in the end.