In September, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation into No Man's Sky following several formal complaints pertaining to the game's allegedly misleading promotional material featured on Steam. The independent regulator has now dismissed the claims and has stated "no further action [is] required."
As a non-statutory body, the ASA—whose role is to “regulate the content of advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing in the UK [by investigating] complaints made about ads, sales promotions or direct marketing"—can’t interpret or enforce legislation, however can have advertisements which fall foul of its code of practice removed.
The regulator now suggests this is not the case. The ruling is thorough and comprehensive, however the following excerpts cover the main points:
"The ad contained several screenshots and two different video trailers for the game, as well as a text description. We understood that, as NMS was procedurally generated, player experiences would vary according to what material was generated in their play-through. The summary description of the game made clear that it was procedurally generated, that the game universe was essentially infinite, and that the core premise was exploration.
"As such, we considered consumers would understand the images and videos to be representative of the type of content they would encounter during gameplay, but would not generally expect to see those specific creatures, landscapes, battles and structures. We therefore considered whether the game and footage provided by Hello Games contained gameplay material of a sufficiently similar type to that depicted in the ad.
"We understood that the user interface design and the aiming system had undergone cosmetic changes since the footage for the videos was recorded. However, we did not consider that these elements would affect a consumer’s decision to purchase the game, as they were superficial and incidental components in relation to the core gameplay mechanics and features. We therefore did not consider the ad was likely to mislead in that regard.
"We understood that the screenshots and videos in the ad had been created using game footage, and acknowledged that in doing this the advertisers would aim to show the product in the best light. Taking into account the above points, we considered that the overall impression of the ad was consistent with gameplay and the footage provided, both in terms of that captured by Hello Games and by third parties, and that it did not exaggerate the expected player experience of the game. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code."
The ASA's ruling can be read in full here.
After several weeks of silence, No Man's Sky launched its base-building update last weekend. There's more to come, so says developer Hello Games, however here's Chris' thoughts on the new features in the meantime.