Deception in the Video Game Industry

Video games can be a portal to an incredible new world. Filled with a great story, adventure, and excitement, a great video game can offer up memories that last a lifetime. However, the industry has some trouble with deception. There have been unbelievably deceitful marketing tactics in recent years that have destroyed gamers trust in video game developers.

No Man’s Sky’s Empty Skies



Looking back, No Man’s Sky is one of the largest scandals a video game developer has faced in recent history. The developer, Hello Games, and their project, No Man’s Sky had audiences all around the world excited about exploring an infinitely grand universe. Instead, what gamers got was a big, empty, cosmos filled with unmet promises and utter deception. Gamers everywhere felt betrayed by Sean Murray, Company Director for Hello Games.

Gameplay was available to the public preceding the release of No Man’s Sky. It was filled with vibrant, thriving worlds and creatures that towered over massive alien plant life. The universe was brought to life by the unique and plentiful intelligent beings that populated space stations and outposts. Gameplay was fluid and the game looked complete. Yet, when No Man’s Sky was released in August of 2016, this was not the game people ended up purchasing. The video game community felt cheated.

No Man’s Sky – PS4 Launch Trailer


Players made so much noise about what they felt was inaccurate marketing. Gamers were sure that Sean Murray and his company used false advertising to make their game look better than it was on release. However, after an investigation into the claims, the U.K-based Advertising Standards Authority cleared the company of any wrongdoing.

Years later, No Man’s Sky is a much different game than it was in the beginning. Countless updates, improvements, and notes from fan feedback have culminated into an experience that gamers can thoroughly enjoy. It’s much closer to the game Sean Murray first described during the many press tours. A similar series of events have recently taken place once again. The release of Fallout 76 upset gamers across the globe. This time it wasn’t a small, indie developer that the gaming community had in their crosshairs. This time it’s the power-house Bethesda that’s under fire.

Fallout Over Canvas Bag

Fallout 76 released on November 14th, 2018. It promised to bring the world of Fallout into a multiplayer, shared-world experience that friends can enjoy together. An open-world Fallout game both excited and infuriated the gaming community when it was first announced. After its release, the negative reviews showed that even those that were looking forward to a multiplayer Fallout game were let down by the experience Bethesda delivered.


Even with its lackluster release and all the negative reviews. It wasn’t just the gameplay that had everyone talking. In one of Bethesda’s pre-order special edition bundles, they promised gamers a high-quality “West Tek military-style canvas bag”. Instead, what gamers received was a low-quality nylon bag that didn’t resemble the bag pictured in the $200 collector’s editions promotional materials. The pictures and display ads they used to sell this expensive collectors bundle had gamers feeling as though Bethesda lied and cheated them out of money when they received a cheap product.


The two bags pictured above don’t match up. Bethesda cannot hide this fact. The company even issued a statement to those that purchased the Power Armor edition of the game. It informed them after release, a material shortage forced them to move forward with the nylon version. The company later issued a statement saying “We are sorry”. Bethesda sent out a Tweet saying those that purchased the Power Armor edition can contact Bethesda support and be credited with 500 Atoms, Fallout 76’s in-game currency.

These two examples of the video game industries tendency to stretch the truth shouldn’t turn gamers away from the hobby they love. Instead, it should shine a light on the competitive nature of the industry and what it means for the consumers. Game developers have two jobs, make games and get audiences excited to buy them. Sometimes they make unbelievable, unforgeable video games that millions of people can’t wait to play and enjoy for years. However, sometimes a product doesn’t live up to expectations and some oversell the games they make, even to the point of lying to gamers.

With such a wide variety of games to choose from and new video games being developed every day, it seems like gamers will need to be extremely cautious as time goes on. Games are getting better and it can be easy to believe a developer. Some games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War have set the bar extremely high. Game developers are all competing for attention and this leads some to use misleading tactics to steal that attention. If No Man’s Sky and Fallout 76 has taught gamers anything, it’s that sometimes waiting for reviews and seeing what real gamers think about a new game is the best way to decide which next adventure will be worth the time and money.

Guest post by Mack from