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No Man's Sky: Life After Launch

By Quinten Plummer
Jun 2, 2016 10:16 AM PT
no-mans-sky

Persistence. It's what permeates the fabric of upcoming sci-fi odyssey No Man's Sky, and it's what will see the game well past its launch this summer.

While eager to set out into a digital space that's populated with 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 unique planets, gamers have, for the most part, expressed patience as the handful of developers at Hello Games marched toward the release of what may be the most ambitious game to date.

Of course, expectant fans were disappointed by last week's confirmation of a rumor that the launch would be postponed from June to August, but some gamers reportedly were so angry they leveled death threats -- not only against the bearer of the sad tidings, but also against Hello Games Managing Director Sean Murray.

Video game launch delays are nothing new, so perhaps the insane reaction speaks to the intensity of anticipation for No Man's Sky.

Planetary Evolution

Hello Games has no downloadable content planned for No Man's Sky, but it intends to update the super-massive space from time to time. With Murray anticipating that players will only explore 0.1 percent of No Man's Sky over the life of the game, post-release DLC doesn't appear to be necessary.

Despite 99.9 percent of the No Man's Sky universe potentially going unseen, that big and open universe will continue to evolve through the game's existing code and updates to it.

The delivery of improvements will depend on how many boxes the game checks off on fans' wish lists, according to Mike Schramm, head of the qualitative analyst team at EEDAR.

"There hasn't been anything announced post-release yet, but if the game does live up to its high expectations, it's hard to think that there couldn't be some sort of follow-up content, like new ships for players to buy or new additions to the procedural engines powering the game," he told TechNewsWorld.

A Limit on the Sky

When gamers on PS4s and PCs blast off, they'll have three angles from which to attack the roughly 18 quintillion planets.

Players can participate in the pilgrimage to the center of the universe, pillage planets while ducking interplanetary police, or build bases and trade goods. All that is a ton of promise coming from a studio that has just over a dozen employees.

As ambitious as No Man's Sky is, it doesn't instill excitement in everyone, according to George T. Chronis, director of qualitative analysis at DFC Intelligence.

The prevailing view surrounding the game is one of cautious optimism, he suggested.

"It's a huge universe to play in that adapts to player decisions, so No Man's Sky has the potential of having a really long tail where gameplay is concerned," Chronis told TechNewsWorld. "If word of mouth is favorable, the game could have a steady build of new users over time."

There are three main ways to play the game, but the story line is left up to the players.

With its lack of a "clear, centralized narrative," No Man's Sky will have to find a way to resonate with players at a time when story-driven games such as Uncharted 4 are popular, said Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research.

Then there's the issue of pricing.

"At a (US)$60 price point, it may, at least at first, meet a degree of skepticism in the larger consumer market," van Dreunen told TechNewsWorld. "In its gameplay, it looks comparable to Ark: Survival Evolved or Rust, but those have a much lower price point."

The game also will have to contend with Steam's upcoming summer sale.

Known for its deep discounts on PC games, the summer sale will offer gamers the opportunity to select several critically acclaimed games, from hundreds, for less than the full-price fee Hello Games will charge for No Man's Sky.

"No Man's Sky is an ambitious project by Sony and has been in development for a long time," said van Dreunen. "I'm curious to see how a combination with the PSVR may affect its success."

VR, PSVR

It would be nice, after falling in love with a planet, to have the ability to revisit that world through the lens of virtual reality, Hello Games' Murray said in an interview with IGN last month.

VR literally would add another dimension to a game that many players in the mainstream already may feel is overwhelming in scale. Going by Murray's remarks, it's something that could roll out in one of the postlaunch updates later on in the game's life.

For now, Hello Games likely is looking at the feasibility of retrofitting the game with support for VR headsets such as PlayStation VR and the Oculus Rift, according to Patrick Walker, VP of insights and analytics at EEDAR.

"Implementing VR support into a first-person shooter title is technically challenging compared to other genres, which is why most of the VR ports released thus far have been isometric games like Defense Grid 2 and AirMech," he told TechNewsWorld.

With Sony backing Hello Games to push No Man's Sky, VR support would offer both companies a strategic advantage in tackling their respective goals with the game, according to Walker.

The fall release of the PlayStation VR headset gives Sony incentive to push for support for VR. That would get more mileage out of the game, and the additional sales would help Hello Games.

"This would give Sony an additional flagship title for the PSVR. By osmosis, this would be good for the VR industry in general as it would provide an example of a AAA title with VR support at a time when many are questioning the overall quality and breadth of the available content," said Walker.

Stardate: August 9

No Man's Sky will launch on PC and PlayStation 4 on August 9. No Xbox One release has been announced, though Microsoft has been working to change that.

"Hello Games has done a pretty good job of showing what's possible with the title," EEDAR's Schramm said, "and we're excited to hear what reviewers and players have to finally say about the finished game."


Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.


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