The Warz has seen its fair share of conflict and drama this week, the game launched on Steam monday and within minutes of being available for purchase people began complaining about the “about” page on the store front.
According to the store front’s page, the game made promises of features that do not currently exist in the game. The game implied multiple maps to play on varying from 100 sq. km. up to 400 sq. km, up to 100 players per server, friends list, skill trees and the ability to rent private servers and strongholds.
At the time of the game’s launch however all of those features weren’t available in the game with server caps being at 50, only one map “colorado” available to play at roughly 100 sq. km, with the friends list, skill trees, and server and stronghold rentals not expected until sometime after the new year.
Steam users were filling the community forums with warnings for other players to not buy, petitions to have the game taken down, and claims of fraud.
The following day, Stream removed the ability to purchase the game from its storefront after the cries for it to be removed reached a fevered pitch.
Valve also issued the following statement in regards to the removal:“From time to time a mistake can be made and one was made by prematurely issuing a copy of War Z for sale via Steam. We apologize for this and have temporary removed the sale offering of the title until we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build. Those who purchase the game and wish to continue playing it via Steam may do so. Those who purchased the title via Steam and are unhappy with what they received may seek a refund by creating a ticket at our support site here.”
Since then, various gaming sites have been reporting on this matter from Kotaku, Game Informer, even going so far as the Forbes blog.
What saddens me as someone who enjoys the game is the amount of negativity being directed at Hammerpoint and The Warz. I believe the reasoning behind this hate is due largely to two things, perception of the game and how it was/is being marketed.
The people at Hammerpoint and Arktos entertainment (their publisher) have handled the marketing of this game very poorly. They advertise certain features as if they are in the game already, and nowhere do they state the game is in a transient state and being updated constantly. Thus, when players buy the game they believe they’re getting something which they aren’t. If those consumers were thorough enough to venture onto the game official forums they would have quickly understood that this game is in a very rough state with several of those key features not yet implemented but promised for early 2013. It has left many gamers both those who paid for early access to the game and alpha as well as recent buyers with a sour taste in their mouth. On these problems alone Hammerpoint has a relative marketing disaster on their hands that doesn’t seem to be getting fixed at least not on the warz’s own site.
The perception of the game is what I feel is coloring this game in the worst light and making their legitimate problems even worse. The WarZ was announced not long after Dayz, the Arma II mod, really took off in popularity and while the two games only share the basic concepts it has caused a lot of people to decide that the Warz is a shameless rip off of Dayz and that hasn’t gone over well with the die hard Dayz fans. This has caused the most vocal of the fans to openly trash and berate the game, sometimes without even bothering to play the game. The most well-known example of this would be a youtuber by the name of Rhinocrunch who post incensed videos about The Warz and made claims that the game was going to be vaporware and a complete scam. After the game launched he still claimed the game was a scam and continues to make various other claims. Others have also taken to attacking the game on varying levels and these attacks have largely shaped customer opinion about a game that is still in its infancy.
What I think is actually going on:
I won’t argue that The Warz has made some pretty serious mistakes and pratfalls, but unlike most of my peers I don’t believe this to be a case of shady dealings or anything like that. The game is in a rough state because it is a small team of developers who are relatively untested and they make mistakes. These mistakes get coupled with the senior producer of the game, Sergey Titov routinely sticking his foot in his mouth with such recent jaw dropping statements as blaming the customers for not reading the Steam page correctly when pressed about the inaccurate information on the steam page. You would find that most of the major conflicts that arise surrounding this game often have to do with things Sergey Titov has and hasn’t said.
The Warz is fun, yes it has it faults but the core of the game is enjoyable. I genuinely believe that if they just marketed the game for what it is rather than what it could be they would have happier customers. They might not have a meteoric rise as they might have hoped, but as they have surely learned word of mouth can accomplish a lot especially via the internet. It is, afterall, that same power that has caused such negative responses about the game. This game is no more a Dayz clone than Call of Duty was a clone of medal of honor in the early days. In fact, Call of Duty rose to prominence because they took an interesting genre and put a good spin on it. So much so that Medal of Honor is now the odd man out after having been on hiatus for several years and two lackluster releases in the last two. Both these games have merit and value, but as is the way with gamers today there can only be one true “winner”.
All I can say to potential buyers is educate yourselves about what the game really entails, it has rough patches but still shines. Watch youtube videos of the gameplay, read the official forums, and talk to some people who play it now. Try to read the news about this marketing mishaps and claims of fraud with a grain of salt as some tend to be more biased than others.
- The War Z launches on Steam amid accusations of fraud (destructoid.com)
- The WarZ Mess: Every Crazy thing we know (kotaku.com)
- The War Z apologizes to gamers…(pcgamer.com)