Gamers are not happy with The War Z. The game’s Steam page was rife with false advertising and unsubstantiated claims, which incited an impressive backlash from Steam users. Needless to say, the game and its developers already have a pretty sketchy reputation.
The game was originally advertised as having a robust skill and experience system. Now, however, there is no mention of it on the Steam page. In addition, advertisements boasted multiple maps of 100-400 sq km in size, but now The War Z’s landing page confesses that only one map, the game’s “first map,” is over “100 sq km.” Of course, some fans claim that a good portion of the map is grayed out, actually making it closer to 72 sq km. To the development team’s credit, they increased their servers’ player limits to 100 from 50 in order to match their originally advertised number.
Also, Hammerpoint “apologized” for all of the confusion:
“It was clear that there were a number of customers that felt that information about the game was presented in a way that could have allowed for multiple interpretations… We’ve taken steps to correct this and format information presented on our Steam Store page in a way so it provides more clear information about game features that are present in the Foundation Release and what to expect in the coming weeks… We also want to extend our apologies to all players who misread information about game features.”
So, just to be clear, Hammerpoint doesn’t seem to think that they’re at fault for the miscommunication; it’s your fault for misreading.
Heck, the “apology” gets even crazier when you examine comments that Sergey Titov, the game’s executive producer, made about the server limit complaints:
“Max players — I’m not sure why this is even an issue. [The] text clearly stated ‘up to 100 players.’ And 50 players [which] we have right now — is what our players — our community feels is comfortable level for them to play.”
Apparently, he thinks that turning fan complaints into a semantic argument is an acceptable solution to the problem.
And here’s what Titov had to say about the maps being smaller than advertised:
“Okay — if text is saying ‘up to 100 players’ — yes, I may imagine situation when somebody will say ‘okay it HAVE TO BE 100.’ ‘Over 100 sq km’ falls in ‘100 to 400’ right? Okay my point is — online games are [a] living breathing GAME SERVICE. This is not a boxed product that you buy one time. It’s evolving product that will have more and more features and content coming it. This is what The War Z is.”
Amidst all of the complaints and backpedalling, Hammerpoint continues to use fairly deceptive business practices concerning the game. The game’s re-spawn time has reportedly been increased from 60 minutes to a whopping four hours! Of course, players could pay 50 gold coins (the equivalent of about forty cents) to respawn immediately. Fans claim that the zombie threat in the game isn’t a threat at all, which means that the title is essentially a massive deathmatch arena with a four-hour-long respawn time and a microtransaction system that aims to nickel and dime the players.
Of course, this has lead to even more complaints, but these are very slowly and systematically being silenced. Users who take issue with The War Z are being banned on both the game’s official forums and its Steam Message Board. Even gamers who are writing balanced and fair reviews are getting the banhammer if they post anything negative.
Kwerk, a moderator for The War Z’s forums, recently posted a set of additional rules and guidelines for participation on the forum. Several topics are now off-limits, including refund requests, the behavior of moderators, reasons for banning, any mention of in-game cheaters, or, and get this, mentioning that you have stopped playing the game. You literally cannot say “I am no longer playing The War Z,” without getting banned from the forums.
And the craziness doesn’t stop there. Reports are rolling in that images for The War Z were actually plagiarized from The Walking Dead and Shaun of the Dead. Plus, the game’s terms of service, which originally linked to League of Legends, look as though they were literally copy/pasted from LoL’s. At this point, it almost seems as if Hammerpoint is trolling us. This can’t possibly be real, can it?
Valve is currently investigating the claims of unfair forum censorship on the official Steam forum for the game, but you probably won’t have much luck on Hammerpoint’s forums.
For now, Valve has removed the game from Steam’s marketplace. There is still a listing for the game, but you can no longer purchase the title. They have called the release of The War Z a “mistake” and admitted that it was released “prematurely.” They went on to say, in a statement to Kotaku, “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.”
Sergey Titov, on the other hand, says that the game was taken off the store because they are trying to make sure their store page is “100% correct.”
This latest round of deception and backpedaling has caused fan outrage to grow even hotter. So it’s probably a good idea to stay away from The War Z until it’s all figured out.
However, Titov has said that “93% of their customers like the game.” Maybe that’s because they are preventing the rest of the users from communicating their frustration. You can read more about Hammerpoint’s censorship policies over at Destructoid, where you’ll find an interesting firsthand account of a user who posted an early review of the title.
We will bring you more information on The War Z, and this ever-growing mess of disappointment, as it becomes available.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: December 20, 2012