When Hammerpoint Interactive first announced The War Z, the open-world zombie survival game was largely seen as a corporate attempt to ape the success of DayZ, a massively popular free modification for ArmA2 (which is currently being retooled for retail release). Still, despite this cynical portrait of the game’s creation, fans of ravenous undead hordes were willing to give the title a shot. You can never have too many zombie games, right?
Unfortunately, when it debuted on Valve Software’s ubiquitous downloadable software distribution service Steam, the game was met with a chorus of protestation. Fans claimed that Hammerpoint Interactive had balatantly lied about a number of the game’s features, including the size of the game world, skills available within the game and the availability of private servers. The game’s vocal detractors claimed that the game was in an obviously unfinished state, and that the developer had been lying to everyone by stating that it was actively ready for retail release.
In turn, the developers shot back by stating that “93 percent” of its customers like the game — though it offered no real evidence to back its claims. “As soon as we’ve announced game — we’ve received our share of hate from some of the DayZ fans accusing us of just ripping off DayZ concept to make a quick money,” Hammerpoint head Sergey Titov told Kotaku. “While over time, especially after game have been launched publicly players been able to see that those two designs are pretty different, there’re still DayZ fanboys out there who just can’t accept fact that similar concept doesn’t mean being copycat… Interesting fact – only around 30% of our player base we have right now actually played DayZ. And 15% of our players never heard of DayZ before they started playing The War Z. This confirms that we’ve been able to attract new players to the survival/zombie war genre of the game.”
While we’re sure that blaming fans of a competing, preceding product seemed like a good idea at the time, Titov is likely now wishing this entire issue would simply go away. As of this morning Valve Software removed the $15 The War Z from Steam. When questioned about the decision, the company offered apologies to all users who felt betrayed by Hammerpoint.
“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,” Valve told 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.” Further, Valve wishes to make amends and is now offering refunds via the Steam support page to any players who purchased The War Z and feel that it hasn’t lived up to the expectations created by Hammerpoint’s pre-release claims.
Given that the official website for The War Z describes the title as “the best Zombie Game you will ever play,” it’s sad to see it miss the mark by such a huge margin. Then again, it does go a long way in supporting the theory that The War Z was created as a slap-dash effort to capitalize on the success of DayZ. Of course, Sergey Titov would likely argue that point, but in the end his company’s reputation has been tarnished by these events and it seems unlikely that the satisfied 93 percent of customers he cited will be able to shift public opinion of the game back toward the positive end of the spectrum.