Hello Games on No Man's Sky's impossible Switch port, lack of multiplayer, and steering clear of microtransactions
Making the impossible possible
No Man’s Sky is coming to Switch later this week, and it might be one of the most implausible Switch ports yet. There are plenty of games that have come to Switch that were deemed ‘impossible’ ports, but No Man’s Sky takes things to a completely different level. That said, the team at Hello Games managed to make things work, and we’ll all get to see how the port turned out on Oct. 7th, 2022.
Fans weren’t the only ones to think that No Man’s Sky coming to Switch was all but impossible. In an interview with Eurogamer, Hello Games’ Sean Murray initially thought the idea wouldn’t pan out.
“I do agree. It certainly on the face of it seems like madness. And I had that reaction myself, to be honest.
This might sound bad, but I was unsure as to whether it was suited for mobile play. I mean, I’ve played long-form games [on Switch before] but, generally, it’s hard to know how much of the rest of the world is like me - is it more focused on shorter, more mobile experience, more drop in, drop out or whatever?
It has been a real surprise to me to see it in the top 10, top five of the most played games on [Steam Deck] for months and months. That makes us feel like, okay, maybe it is [a good fit] and, you know… over the last few months, as the Switch version has come together, I find myself really gravitating towards it.
…and so at some point, some folks on the team were like, ‘I think Switch is possible’, and then everyone said the worst thing, which is like, ‘No, it’s not’. And that just made a bunch of people think, ‘Okay, well, I’m going to try and prove that it is’. Over time, it just showed more and more promise… and more and more of the team have gotten excited about it and piled onto it.”
Of course, a few concessions were necessary with the Switch version of No Man’s Sky. First up, the town-like settlements from the Frontiers update didn’t make the cut, but even more surprising is multiplayer. No Man’s Sky on Switch is a solo affair, and Murray opened up on why.
“Multiplayer in No Man’s Sky is important, I love it as a feature, it’s great… [but] it’s not our most important feature compared to other games that have multiplayer. A lot of people play No Man’s Sky effectively alone, single-player, and [Switch] is less focused on multiplayer as well, because of the nature that you’re playing it on a train, you’re playing on the toilet, out and about or in bed at night or whatever. Loads of people play multiplayer games on Switch… but it’s a smaller percentage, and so our attitude is release, and see how people interact with it, and see what’s important to them and react to that.”
That brings us to the question of whether multiplayer will ever be added to the Switch version. Murray wasn’t ready to confirm anything, but he did give a little glimmer of hope.
“I think I never want to make promises about anything or allude to anything… I really would like to avoid that. Beyond that, we already have a whole bunch of stuff lined up that I think people are going to be excited for.”
One thing fans shouldn’t expect in No Man’s Sky is microtransactions. As it stands right now, No Man’s Sky asks one asking price and then content updates are added for free. While plenty of other companies would be putting price tags on those updates, Hello Games has stayed away from it. In an interview with Nintendo Life, Murray seems to indicate that things will stay that way from here on out.
“We have our business model which is very straightforward with the players: they pay us some money to play the game and we update the game. We give them a game that we are proud of day one and then as long as we’re excited about it, and they’re excited about it, we have been continuing to update it.
We have really enjoyed that process and that relationship. Lots of people tell us that there is this alternative business model or that alternative business model and there probably is; but we’re enjoying this right now, we really enjoy working on the game and we have got this really positive, welcoming community that I really get a buzz out of making updates for and continuing to tend to that game. So we’re happy! I don’t want to know the alternative future and how much money we could have made, don’t ever tell me that! [laughing] Don’t spoil it, this is fine!
If I look at compatriots like Elite or Star Citizen, there’s a ton of other games that are somewhat similar, and they have other business models which are funded by in-app purchases or season passes, and I think that’s cool - good for them! I don’t necessarily look at it and think, ‘I wish we did that’, but I also don’t look at it and think, ‘you’ve got it right and they’ve got it wrong.’ I just think, ‘cool, we are all trying to figure this out in different ways.’ I don’t know if that makes sense, or if it makes me sound naive.”