Sean Murray, founder of Hello Games and famed creator of No Man's Sky (opens in new tab), knows a thing or two about how to deal with... shall we say, constructive feedback.
The game's original release back in 2016 saw a huge backlash from players who felt misled by its lack of promised features, but the indie studio has since worked its way out of that sticky situation through healthy post-launch support, most notably with the release of No Man's Sky Next (opens in new tab) last year and the upcoming launch of No Man's Sky Beyond (opens in new tab) within the next few months.
Speaking during his keynote panel at this year's Develop conference in Brighton, UK, Murray explained how Hello Games turned things around for its seemingly sinking ship, mainly by focusing on post-launch development rather than getting itself into any deeper hot water with more false promises.
"We went about two years without talking to press at all", says Murray. "And we went about three months without saying anything to the community either. That was really hard. I sat down so many times and wrote the perfect blog post that was going to explain everything about the game's development, and the road map going ahead. But I could see that it didn't hold credibility with regards to where we were at."
No Man's Sky was the first of many games in recent years to hit the ground stumbling, as the likes of Fallout 76 (opens in new tab), Sea of Thieves (opens in new tab), and Anthem (opens in new tab) have struggled to maintain a positive reputation following troubled release periods. With the benefit of hindsight, Murray has some advice for the studios caught in that crossfire; actions speak louder than words.
"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."
Interestingly, Anthem's community has been getting increasingly aggravated with BioWare's lack of communication on the game's future (opens in new tab), but Murray's world-weary comments perhaps suggest this is for the best, allowing the studio to get on with the hard work of making the game it was meant to be, without getting distracted with maintaining face. "Talking about features when a game's already out isn't that credible or interesting", he later tells GamesRadar+ in a follow up interview, "Your actions are so much more important than what you say."
For help thriving in Hello Games' procedural expanse, read up on how to make money fast in No Man's Sky (opens in new tab) or watch the video below for a guide to everything else out this week.