Excitement is a powerful emotion. It can lead people to do and say some pretty crazy things when they’re in the heat of the moment. But prolonged excitement is even more powerful. It allows imaginations to run wild, and fantasies to take over. And that right there is the danger of hype culture; the reaction to No Man’s Sky post-launch is proof of this.
No Man’s Sky was first revealed all the way back in 2013. It was an already exciting period in the gaming industry, as it was the dawn of a new era of consoles. There were many new projects that had been announced, but No Man’s Sky was an unexpected surprise, and it took over the discussions of many gaming communities. It was weird and ambitious, and gamers were intrigued. Hello Games, the studio behind the project, was very small. Being an indie studio, the fact that their game was getting so much exposure no doubt boosted their pride. And so, the hype train began. As the months rolled on, No Man’s Sky would be seen in a variety of different interviews, features and conferences. Hello Games’ founder Sean Murray would be a regular face and voice as he discussed the project, and the studio’s huge vision. Every new mention of No Man’s Sky raised the bar ever so much higher, making it easily one of the most anticipated games ever. But alas, the road was long.
Some time had passed, and the game would go on to receive many delays. Fans understandably began to get upset, but the negative reactions were constantly being put down by those who sympathized with Hello Games, understanding that the project was indeed a very huge undertaking. In the meantime, Sean Murray continued to let bare his big, childlike smile in all of his interviews as he was questioned by the media as to what exactly No Man’s Sky was all about. Each time, fans would be more swoon and the excitement continued to rise. But, it wasn’t until the announcement that the game had gone gold that the madness was truly apparent.
That announcement sent a shockwave of raw hype surging through the whole gaming community. Many websites were quick to jump on the news, and gamers far and wide began their usual pre-launch discussions. New screenshots and trailers were being released, analytical videos were being uploaded—it all truly was a sight. While there were many other games worth talking about, No Man’s Sky was indeed the center of attention, rivaled only by the likes of Pokemon GO!. As the final release date drew near, the hype began to boil over. It was quite obvious that this game would be getting a massive amount of day one buyers. Leaks soon began to trickle out and the madness continued to grow. Finally, launch day—where it all fell down.
No Man’s Sky was hyped to insane levels by the community, thus creating a pool of unrealistically high expectations.
Reactions by those who got their hands on early copies of the game revealed that not everything was entirely ready. There was a day one patch that was made available on launch day, but the pre-patch version was definitely not up to snuff. While the patch did correct many of the issues, there were still problems even after. This was the beginning of No Man’s Sky descent into the dark side of hype culture.
As more people began to play and more reviews were posted, it gradually became more and more apparent that the game wasn’t quite like what most were expecting it to be. This proposed exciting, mysterious universe ended up being monotonous and slow-paced. Negative reactions towards the game began to rise almost as quickly as the positive reactions sprouted after the game’s initial reveal. The truth was coming out, and people were not happy. The same websites that were helping drive the hype behind the project, were now lambasting it, as was the community.
This whole situation is nothing new. Thanks to the power of the Internet, millions of people can congregate on websites and simultaneously share their thoughts and opinions on any-and-every matter. When it comes to just about anything in the entertainment industry, this is both a good and a bad thing. No Man’s Sky was met with large amounts of praise. Sean Murray, and by extension Hello Games’, promises were big and alluring. More people began to catch on and then it turned into a growing madhouse. We’ve seen this happen with many other games before, and other entertainment mediums such as movies. When these projects attract so much positive attention, there’s always the dark side of it all lurking in the shadows; chances are, many people are going to be disappointed.
The danger of this ‘hype culture’ is that people get lost in their feelings and emotions. When the creators behind these projects make big promises, it further swoons the masses and further pushes the level of excitement. This drives people to start fantasizing more and more, which mostly ends up to them creating unrealistic expectations. Now being able to discuss en-mass over the Internet, people can now bounce ideas off of each other, thus creating a pool of excitement, feeding off of the hype. So, you’re left with large body of incredibly high expectations, thus putting extreme pressure on the creators. Once a project is released, the hype boils over into the initial reaction and when reality sets in, suddenly that large group of excited people turns into an angry mob of disgruntled, argumentative individuals.
The problem with hype is that people end up getting lost in their emotions, and then when reality hits most people are left feeling highly disappointed.
Most projects never really live up to the hype. People always go too far, and get mad when the reality of it all doesn’t end up matching their fantasy. No Man’s Sky is simply the current victim of this long-running trend.
However, the blame can’t be put entirely on the community.
As mentioned before, being such a small studio Hello Games no doubt got an extra boost of pride when No Man’s Sky began getting such a great deal of positive exposure. The idea was already complex and ambitious, but the positive reaction most surely drove the team to push as far as possible. Each time Mr. Murray made an appearance, he always left a strong impression, painting the picture of what many believed would be the “perfect game”. No Man’s Sky was basically hype by definition; because it was such a huge undertaking, it was practically destined to create high expectations.
Obviously, Hello Games was not able to fulfill their exact vision, as many features that were shown off are either not present, or very dumbed-down in the final release. Perhaps, the game was simply not meant to be a true success. It made a huge promise from the start, and those promises only multiplied over time. Combine that with the growing excitement of the gaming community, and you have yourself what was essentially a ticking time bomb.
It’s going to be interesting to see how No Man’s Sky will live on. Now that it’s out in the wild and the verdict has pretty much been settled on, will it still remain a hot topic of discussion a few months from now? Only time will tell. No doubt, there will soon be other titles that attract massive amounts of attention, and the cycle will repeat itself again. It doesn’t always end up this way, but most of the time, hype only ends up being a hazard. Maybe No Man’s Sky will be looked back on a few years from now in a more positive light, once people are over the bitterness of their unmet expectations.