The alpha version of DayZ – the standalone game, not to be confused with the ArmA 2 mod that it was conceived as – launched via Steam on December 16, 2013, and within one week had scaled past 400,000 sales. At its peak during week one, the persistent online open world zombie game had more than 40,000 concurrent users playing. These and other details come from the latest post on the game’s official development blog (via Joystiq).
Three update patches rolled out for the $30 Early Access game during its first week on Steam’s virtual shelves, and another one followed on New Year’s Eve. None of them changed any of the game’s fundamental systems; they focused instead on minor interface and balance tweaks. The latest added a feature that allows for first-person only servers (DayZ supports play from a third-person perspective). More sweeping changes will come – it’s the nature of any Steam Early Access game – and a week one forum update from project lead Dean “Rocket” Hall (also the original mod’s creator) offers a sense of what’s coming, and when.
Some changes, such as injecting a larger number of zombies in the open world of Chernarus and enhancing the level of control that admins have over server management, are described as an ongoing process. Updates planned for early 2014 include server improvements that should boost performance for those with multi-core CPUs, respawning zombies/loot, and an assortment of systems geared toward more survival-oriented play. This includes the addition of wild animals and hunting for food, as well as tools for cooking and resource-gathering. Looking further ahead, Hall expects to bolster DayZ‘s security measures by late 2014.
The standalone version of DayZ was originally targeted to launch in late-2012, but Hall and his team at Bohemia Interactive chose to go with an extended delay so they could deliver something that amounted to more than just a polished version of the Arma 2 mod. The past year was spent fine-tuning a heavily modified game engine that is in the process of being specifically tailored to the DayZ experience. You’ll note in any official update on the game’s present day performance that the team is careful to emphasize the alpha state it’s in. DayZ is going to continue to show more and more polish over time. There’s no timetable for when a feature-complete version will be “released” – or when the hypothetical console ports may arrive – but the devs are surely getting all the feedback they need from the community of 400,000+ users.