“No Man’s Sky was a mistake,” read a tweet on the Hello Games Twitter account.
The post was quickly removed, but not before stirring up controversy and confusion in the gaming community. The tweet was long-awaited for a media that has been starved for comment from the company since its game released to highly critical user reviews last August. Hello Games and co-founder Sean Murray have been completely silent since the massive space exploration simulation released.
Despite mixed reviews among established games critics, No Man’s Sky was heavily panned by players who had bought the game. Criticisms of the work even went as far as accusations of false advertising and demands for refunds. The condemnation got so bad that the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority opened an investigation into allegations that the game was misrepresented in the Steam Store.
In a situation that would have most development studios in 24/7 damage control mode, Hello Games stopped communications altogether. Its social media accounts fell silent, and nobody from the company has been available to answer questions. So when the tweet about No Man’s Sky being a mistake was posted, gaming news outlets were ravenous for more information. From that moment on, the whole episode has unraveled into a confusing mess of contradictory statements from Sean Murray, or someone claiming to be him.
Immediately after the tweet went out, it was deleted and the company’s Twitter account was set to private. Stories began emerging that the posting was a hack. Forbes contacted Hello Games for comment and was told that the tweet was not a hack, but was posted by a “disgruntled employee.”
If the story had been left alone at that point, it would seem fairly run-of-the-mill. After all, there is nothing unusual about an employee being disgruntled over a game and a company facing such harsh criticism. However, it gets stranger.
After the company told Forbes that it was a disgruntled employee, Polygon reported that they received emails from Sean Murray stating that the company’s account had not been hacked and that he was responsible.
“The tweet is from me, but somebody from the team took it down. We have not been coping well,” Sean stated.
Later, another email came in that seemed to be from Murray, but Polygon was skeptical of the origin.
“A suspicious email sent to two Polygon staffers, neither of whom corresponded directly with Murray previously, contained an ‘apology’ for the game. The email apes frequent community criticisms, and includes a tell in the spelling of ‘apologize’ (British English would spell it differently).”
In the email, Murray, or an imposter, apologizes for No Man’s Sky and states that Hello Games was pressured by Sony to release the game before they felt it was ready. He explained that the whole thing was beyond their control and that they honestly wish to continue working on the game to bring it up to their original vision.
By that point, nobody could figure out if Murray was behind the tweet or the emails, and the media was completely dumbfounded.
Sean Murray has admitted it in his emails but his emails have been hacked? Then he hasn't admitted it? ????— Shane Vergil Nash (@HeRoicVergiL) October 28, 2016
Forbes stated, “Whether Murray’s email has been hacked, or the entirety of Hello Games has been hacked, or Murray was indeed the disgruntled employee remains unclear.”
Then, five hours after the whole thing started, Sean Murray posted from his personal Twitter account, “Server hacked. We’re binging Mr Robot [sic] Episodes as quickly as we can looking for answers. Ep05 is a cracker.”
A short time later Sean appeared to indicate that the whole thing happened because of not using two-factor authentication on LinkedIn.
If anything was a mistake, it was using Linked In without 2FA.— Sean Murray (@NoMansSky) October 28, 2016
In an even stranger post, Murray tweeted at Hello Games asking if they were “still hacked and stuff.”
Polygon reports that after six hours of confusion, the Hello Games Twitter account seems to back in the company’s control. A tweet stated that they were getting “back to work.”
However, Forbes is still not satisfied with the company’s response. It seems to leave more questions than answers.
“For instance, is Murray now claiming that the email sent to myself and other journalists claiming this was all a disgruntled employee’s doing part of this apparent hack? Or is this merely damage control?”
Hello Games seems to be back on radio silence, so answers are not likely to be forthcoming. The company’s continued silence on No Man’s Sky only further confuses and angers the gaming community. Once again, the media is on vigil for any official word regarding No Man’s Sky or the strange communique from this morning.
[Featured Image by Hello Games]