Should You Panic Over the No Man's Sky Leak?
Updated: Apr 2
Game leaks. They're the bane of existence for developers and the creme de la creme for gamers who can't stand to wait until launch day. For pirateers and those who like to live on the dangerous side of life, it becomes a game in and of itself to crack the game or leak it first, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how it goes. We here at Socially Gaming were excited for this game.
No Man's Sky developers are currently experiencing the bad side literally as we speak; someone (namely, Reddit user Daymeeuhn) managed to buy a leaked copy of the game for approximately $1,250 USD. And not only did this individual manage to find a leaked copy, he also managed to do something purported to be impossible: he got to the center of the universe in just 30 hours.
And then he filmed the entire process and dropped his thoughts on Reddit.
Recipe for disaster much?
For those of you who haven't been following the game's progress, or for those of you who don't know anything about this up and coming game, let me backpedal and explain just a bit of the background.
No Man's Sky is an action-adventure game set in a space and planetary universe. The entire goal of the game is to search, discover, and battle your way to the center of the universe, but there's no true "end" so to speak.
During the creation process, developers claimed that the procedurally-generated universe would contain "quintillions of unique planets". They also waxed poetic about how it wasn't possible to get through the universe to the center of it so quickly. They even suggesting that it would take eons to actually get through the majority of the game's core content.
Daymeeuhn's expose, at first glance, made these claims seem false. Socially Gaming blog covers you on all the news coming up.
The problem for No Man's Sky, at least with regard to the leak, is not the arguing about its success; it's that up until now, game developers could make whatever claims they wanted and, unless you had seen or interacted with the game yourself, you'd never know whether it was the truth or a lie.
And now, along comes someone with money to burn who can afford to skip ahead of the line--a contentious topic in the industry already--who has managed to prove all of the hype wrong, or so it appears at face value.
Daymeeuhn's foray into the unreleased game pointed out that in-game processes like ship upgrading can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes you get through the content. Not an exploit, or a bug, but portions of intended gameplay itself, may end up reducing the game's replayability.
Simply repeatedly buy and sell a really expensive item in-game, and you have all the money you need to min-max your ship to the point where travel is no longer a problem.
Much as with any other dramatic event in the gaming industry, fans and haters alike are now jumping at the chance to predict the game's failure because of it. But is this really accurate? Does a short, 30-hour leak spell the end of a game's success?
The Short Answer: Probably not.
The long answer is, unfortunately, a whole lot more complex and less easily answered in just a few words.
A Multifaceted Problem
Certainly, fans have been saying that the leak impacted their view of the game, and in a few cases, led to canceled pre-orders and a variety of other issues. It's impossible to say that the leak didn't impact the game's success at all, in any way, because the truth is it did.
Even Daymeeuhn himself acknowledged the damage, choosing to take down his videos and snapshots after game developer Sean Murray asked fans to withhold their judgement and try the game for themselves.
Unlike most pirates, Daymeeuhn did eventually comply, and shared that he felt regret about what he had done. But his regret came unfortunately too late; gamers were already talking and had mirrored most videos and snapshots all over hell's creation..
Responses to the Leak: Negative and Positive
A leak megathread on Reddit, first removed and then restored after immense backlash, pointed out that some people are feeling as if they've had the wool pulled over their eyes. The game they expected is not the game they were shown in Daymeeuhn's videos, and that's left a sour taste in a lot of mouths.
Others supported the developers, pointing out that a leaked copy of a game that hasn't yet launched isn't exactly indicative of what the final launch will even look like. Reddit user McKetten pointed out that the game could seem deceptively easy at this point because Daymeeuhn's copy was little more than a QA copy, purposefully tweaked to allow testers access to the content.
Neither naysayer nor supporter are really wrong; the game, at least in its current evolution, is unfinished and largely full of bugs. It needs tweaking, adjustments, patches, and a large amount of work--probably why it wasn't released along its original timetable.
Others are drawing parallels to an ongoing industry problem in which developers hype games up and take advantage of the excitement to sell pre-orders for games that, in some cases, don't even come to fruition, or end up launching in a broken state.
Wider Industry Problems
Realistically, the gaming industry is rife with games that are released unfinished. All the No Man's Sky leak has managed to do is expose that a little bit more acutely before the fact.
It's become almost a given that a game will be launched with issues, and some people see that as a problem in and of itself, especially with regard to pre-orders. Very often gamers pre-order games based on only a trailer or a few screenshots, assuming that what the developers claim of it is reality, only to find out that this isn't really the case.
Questions About Pre-Ordering
Boogie2988's famous pre-order rant does an excellent (albeit slightly NSFW) job of highlighting why the pre-order phenomena is such a problem for gamers. To sum things up without swearing, it used to be that, once upon a time ago in a land called The 80s, you could demo a game or play it in-store, and what you got on the cartridge was a full, finalized, finished game.
That's no longer the case, even when you're purchasing a console game.
No Man's Sky seems to be falling into the current perceived pattern many game companies are following. Release a game in a semi-finished state, and then keep people interested by releasing regular updates and fixes, thereby stretching out the usual period of interest and keeping people hooked.
But looks can be deceptive, especially when it comes to games that venture into uncharted territory--when they go where no man has gone before, so to speak.
Ha. So much wit.
A Different Outcome?
Despite the fact that this article may seem like it's painting a negative picture of No Man's Sky, nothing could be further from the truth. I fully believe that the game is sort of a special case; it's entirely new, and truly does something that no other game has really done before.
Will there be a few naysayers? Yes, absolutely. No game launches without them; it's the scourge of modern (and to some degree, western) gaming. People want everything, and they want it last week, in their favorite color and with their name emblazoned on it to make them feel special.
As a gamer, I don't believe that the leak will be the ultimate ruin for the game; in fact, I think if anything, it's a good thing for the larger gaming industry. It encourages developers to be honest about the state of a game before launch, and that's something from which we can all benefit.
As a business person, and someone who works intimately with things like copyright and licensing, I worry that stealing content first and apologizing later is becoming more and more of a trend in the industry. Developers have to make money, too, and leaks can cut a significant portion of that money, leaving them with less of a budget for things like patches, fixes, and management.
As gamers, we must push for honesty and transparency. But we must also be willing to be patient and allow developers time to do what they do best--develop. We can't in one breath say that the game is full of bugs and broken, and then exhale again while basing the decision on a pirated release that's in an unfinished state.
Take Sean's advice. Wait, Padawan. Try the game for yourself. If you still hate it, then you've earned the right to lash out at the developers for releasing a poor product. But don't base your decision on a pre-released copy.