In my time in the industry, I've seen a lot of videogames launch, and I have seen a number of games stumble at launch. Either the game isn't what it was advertised to be, the graphics aren't as soon as the trailers or the play isn't fun. Niantic struggled with server issues with the release of Pokémon GO. Maxis nearly destroyed the SimCity franchise with their launch.
No Man's Sky, however, has had all of these issues and more. The graphics in the game are nothing like they were promised to be. In fact, many of the creatures within the game look deformed versus their photorealistic initial claims. The game has been plagued by bugs, making the game either completely unplayable or slowly self-destructing. In one case, player's discoveries were slowly wiped out of existence.
Many players have asked for refunds under Steam's new refund policy, and others have simply given up. Even Sony President Shuhei Yoshida said in an interview,
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.
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.
Unfortunately, he seems to be one of the only ones holding that view. Active players on Steam has dropped below 1,000, making it an incredibly empty universe. Because of all of the problems, including player count, people in the UK have contacted the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the organization that investigates claims of false advertising. Their claims are not minor, claiming that essentially every claim about the game has been false. Here are the most common complaints:
User interface design
Ship flying behaviour (information; with a 'wingman'; flying close to the ground)
Behaviour of animals (in herds; destroying scenery; in water; reacting to surroundings)
Large-scale space combat
Structures and buildings as pictured
Speed of galaxy warp/loading time
Size of creatures (9)
Behaviour of ships and sentinels (4, 5 and 8)
Structures and buildings as pictured (3)
Store Page in general
Quality of graphics
References to: lack of loading screens, trade convoys between stars, factions vying over territory
Until now, the developer, Hello Games, has not responded to any criticism. In fact, the only real feedback we have gotten from the company has been second-hand through Yoshida's comments. The company will now have to respond to the ASA, however. If the ASA finds false advertising, the listings will have to be altered and, more importantly, fines could be assessed. This is not a great position for a company who was already in over their heads.