It’s not what it seems like.
No Man’s Sky wasn’t actually a bad game- for what it did, it was actually pretty good. The problem doesn’t come from it being bad, the problem comes from it being disappointing, and a far cry from what the developers had promised for the game in the lead up to its launch. The developers promised the universe – literally – but even game marketing hyperbole aside, they promised very specific features for the game that didn’t make it into the final game.
The game was sold as a full price $60 game- so naturally people were annoyed when they found out that they had been misled and that it was lacking features that had been promised. The problem came afterwards- developers Hello Games disappeared off the face of the Earth, and refused to communicate with fans, exacerbating the situation. A lot of games have had poor launches before- but their developers have been able to remain in open dialog with the community, work with them and salvage the situation and eventually the game. Look at Diablo 3 or Destiny, for example.
Hello Games didn’t do that, and No Man’s Sky became a cautionary tale. An award winning cautionary tale, because incredibly enough, the game has been awarded the Innovation Award at GDC 2017, beating out The Witness, Firewatch, and Pokemon GO. While you may be annoyed by this choice, just keep one thing in mind- the award is for the technology powering the game, not for its content, and certainly not for the context surrounding it. It is hard to deny that No Man’s Sky makes some pretty clever use of existing technology.
Still, I can’t imagine a lot of people are too happy about this. No Man’s Sky is available on PC and PS4.