Notes on News: No Man’s Lie- Why companies should be held accountable for false advertising

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The recent controversy over No Man’s Sky’s inability to live up to many of its customers expectations once again raises the issue of how much freedom manufacturers should have when advertising their product.

While manufacturers should be able to sell their product in creative and engaging ways, they still need to be honest about what their product is. The developers and manufacturers of NMS made promises they could not deliver on, and advertised their game as something which clearly was false.

Customers trust manufacturers to give them the product they advertise, so when the product they are advertising doesn’t even actually exist, the whole system breaks down, and it is the customer that suffers.

The whole synergy is interdependent on consumers trusting producers to deliver the goods. Games like No Man’s Sky are expensive, and to spend around £50 on a product just to find out that it isn’t what you thought it would be is a disappointing, and aggravating experience for the customer. Any developer who advertises their product in a similar way to how Hello Games advertised this game misleads their customers, and as a result, they should be held accountable.

Gamers were led to believe that NMS would be the answer to their prayers; a game more high tech and open world than any game that came before, made apparent by it’s sheer size. The game supposedly has 18 quintillion planets to explore, which would take 922,337,203,685,477,580 days. Undeniably this is impressive, and is made even more impressive by the fact that it was developed by only 15 people in less than 1000 days. However, this does not change the fact that the developers promised an experience in No Man’s Sky that they failed to deliver.

Understandably many customers were disappointed by the product, as it turned out to be different from how it was advertised. This led to many complaints being lodged with the ASA, leading to an investigation.

Most of the complaints about NMS’s advertising focus on the content which was uploaded to the game’s store page on Steam. Many gamers feel that the screenshots and videos which advertised the game were misleading. They suggested higher quality graphics than can be found in the actual game, as well as large scale space combat, more advanced animal behaviour and spaceship behaviour. Another complaint is the lack of a multiplayer function, which is considered a staple for most successful modern games.

Unfortunately this is not the first time that customers have been faced with misleading advertising. Grand Theft Auto V was investigated by the ASA in 2015, after similar complaints were made. The ASA came to the conclusion that adverts suggesting GTA V was discounted by 25% during the Steam summer sale were misleading. This was due to the discount advertised only just bringing the game down to beneath its normal retail price, which did not represent the aforementioned value.

Similarly Suicide Squad is another example of false advertising. Many fans were left upset by the lack of Joker scenes in the film after trailers had suggested a far bigger presence for Jared Leto’s character. It was later revealed that many of the trailers circulating at the time had used content, which was eventually cut from the actual film.

Whether it be movie-goers disappointed their favourite character didn’t get enough screen time, or gamers who felt let down by a company which promised a product they could not provide, many companies are guilty of misleading advertisements. Customers repeatedly find themselves left out of pocket after paying for a product which turned out to be different from how it was advertised.

This needs to change. Manufacturers and developers need to start being honest and advertise the product as how they intend to publish it, rather than an airbrushed ‘false’ version. To do anything else is unfair on the customer, and suggests a lack of confidence in the product they have. No Man’s Sky is a game that promised a lot, and delivered little, letting a lot of people down in the process.

Check out some more information on the advertising controversy of No Man’s Sky below:

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Student at the University of Southampton studying English. I love food, films, tv and music. I also love to read, made apparent by my chaotic bookshelves. My main addictions are sugar, caffeine and Netflix.

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