No Man's Sky PR strategy wasn't great - Yoshida

Sony Worldwide Studios president criticizes Hello Games' Sean Murray for over-promising on space exploration survival game

Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida is the latest person to take Hello Games to task for its promotion of No Man's Sky, the much-anticipated PlayStation 4 and PC game that launched last month and saw a furious reaction from some who felt it wasn't the game they'd been promised.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Yoshida put the onus for the backlash on the developer, specifically on Hello Games CEO Sean Murray.

"I understand some of the criticisms especially Sean Murray is getting, because he sounded like he was promising more features in the game from day one," Yoshida said. "It wasn't a great PR strategy, because he didn't have a PR person helping him, and in the end he is an indie developer. But he says their plan is to continue to develop No Man's Sky features and such, and I'm looking forward to continuing to play the game."

The criticism is curious given Sony's role in building hype for No Man's Sky in the first place. The game was featured front and center during Sony's E3 2014 and 2015 press conferences, and Sony devoted more than a dozen posts on the official PlayStation blog specifically to promoting No Man's Sky. As for whether the Sony name has been tarnished by its close association with No Man's Sky, Yoshida downplayed the notion.

"I am super happy with the game actually, and I'm amazed with the sales the game has gotten, so I'm not the right person to judge if it has 'harmed' the PlayStation brand. I personally don't think so. If anything, I am proud that people can play No Man's Sky on PS4 as well as PC."

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Latest comments (13)

James Coote Independent Game Developer 5 years ago
That's bad form, putting the blame on the developers, especially since (as mentioned) Sony were as complicit in hyping up the game when it suited them. Only to distance themselves once things got out of hand.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
Between this, killing Bethesda mod support, the two studio layoffs and the lackluster PS4 Pro reveal it hasn't been a good few weeks for Sony.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 17th September 2016 10:08pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago
I don't think people realize how significant this is, and how bad

A Japanese executive badmouthing a partner this way, mild by western standards, in a public forum or to the press indicates extraordinary displeasure. This is a loss of face issue, as Sony tied their brand extensively to the game. Personally If I were Sean, I'd be on a plane to Tokyo right now to grovel, and I mean on your knees, head touching the floor level.

And yes, Sony put their machine behind him, but what we don't know is what was promised, required, and ultimately not delivered from their deal. by this statement, seeems they were sold the same bill of goods many of the users feel they were. In Japan, your word is your bond, more binding than any written contracts, and I have a feeling Mr. Murray signed a big one, whether he realized it or not.

I obviously don't have access to any of that inside information, and I could be totally wrong, but that's where what is public points based on my experience.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeff Kleist on 18th September 2016 11:38am

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Show all comments (13)
Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
Sometimes people pull up obscure interviews after releae, sometimes there is a video from the developer at the Colbert Show. Nothing says indie developer without PR person quite like that.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
@Jeff Kleist: Well, I guess a ring to the Apology King is in order. Time for a SUUPA Dogeza!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 19th September 2016 5:50am

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Anthony Chan5 years ago
@Jeff Kleist:

This is a very good insight into the meaning behind the words with the Japanese. Japanese business is normally very subtle in expressing displeasure. If they have to release a 'strong worded' (and you hit the nail on the head, this is actually a strong worded statement from a Japanese point of view); it is the equivalent of raging mad, utterly embarrassed, and full-on ashamed in the Japanese business culture.
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Carl Hudson Studying Computer Science, University of Adelaide5 years ago
The game is great, and it's regularly updated with patches.. Like any other new game. I don't see what the problem is?

Is it just cos it's not another murder-sim ?
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Robert Bantin Snowdrop Audio Architect, Massive Entertainment5 years ago
@Jeff Kleist:
I don't think Yoshida-san is having a rage fit in Japan-Business-Speak. He is well versed in talking in a westernized way and is often tasked by Sony to do PR damage control (remember the PSN security breach?) and I believe this is one of those times. The point is Sean, over a series of months, implied features that people took to mean "confirmed from day-one".

Does anyone remember how Hello Games lost their studio in a flood? They were immediately approached by Microsoft and Sony for assistance, and they picked Sony. I suspect Microsoft would have handled the messaging on Sean's behalf rather than let him run his mouth in the media, because that's their forte.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago
@Robert He is indeed well versed in Western etiquette. That doesn't change where he comes from though, and who he answers to. The PSN Breach was theirs, and theirs alone. This is a partner, a well publicized relationship and partnership, showcased at their events, and a game they published. That's the difference. The key is when he made direct and personal comments about their partner's actions. And I'm not saying this is Yoshida's idea either. But he wouldn't be bus throwing without it being ok at the top
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Robert Bantin Snowdrop Audio Architect, Massive Entertainment5 years ago
@Jeff Kleist:
I suppose we'll know for sure if Hello Games make another Sony exclusive. If My Murray et al end up hidden away (as most developers are, let's be honest) while their next IP is in development, we'll know that the Sony heads didn't appreciate the PR disaster they whipped up this time.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago
@Robet Sure, so long as we make allowances for the same issues other small developers have had, where they only concentrate on one platform at a time. I'd amend it to "another Sony backed exclusive", where financial and other support beyond the basic package are received
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Alex Barnfield Lead Engineer, 17-BIT5 years ago
@Jeff Kleist:

I don't think it's anything to read into, Japanese respect isn't exactly bi-directional. Were this a Japanese indie developer complaining about the marketing done by their publisher I would be surprised, but this quote isn't in any way shocking.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alex Barnfield on 22nd September 2016 2:52am

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Thomas Peter Technical Designer R&D 5 years ago
How does PR Management manage lying and cheating? I'm wondering!
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