Well I thought Iíd do the very stupid thing and try to compile an almost time line of the controversy surrounding War Z and link it to the controversy I managed to kick up over another game.
So War Z, initially announced to the public not long after the popularisation of the Arma II Mod Day Z. The games developers claimed War Z had been in development before Day Z and that the popularisation of Day Z caused the development to speed up. Ok fair enough, it happens Iím no longer going to automatically slate two game just for being similar if they do different things. As I had pointed out the Walking dead game which stated similar ideas might be a completely different title.
Now I have watched probably more footage of Day Z than War Z however I have done far more research on War Z than Day Z to understand it, or at least try.
So the first point of contention is, the games are vastly similar is style. I donít just mean they are close but I mean they really do try to fill the same market slot the differences being War z gives cosmetic options and weapons customisation while Day Z is more limited in that but has more survival elements such as cooking and eating meat and hunting along with making fires and by the looks of it, working stealth. So with no way to tell if War Z was in development before Day Z I canít really attack them nor can I say they are telling the truth.
So this point is a stalemate.
Next are the accusations from one of the moderators off the War Z forums. Initially he went on various forums having been removed as a mod after his account became compromised and basically trashed the game saying they never planned to finish the game, they were abandoning it in 6 months if it wasnít profitable enough, they would ban people they felt they could get to buy the game again. That the game wasnít an original but a modded port of a game called war Inc.
Said Ex forum mod has made an apology video but the damage in part was done with large amounts of the population deciding not to risk it and calling for a refund.
How true any of this is again is up for debate.
Next are the accusations of people asking for a refund due to not being happy with the product being threatened with being placed on a digital purchasing blacklist so for example sites that use Paypal wouldnít accept payment from said customers due to them being blacklisted. This I have found evidence of.
Thatís right a company was threatening people exercising their consumer right to a refund on a product not meeting the stated specs or not functioning properly. Iíve honestly seen better behaved companies on Rogue Traders. This isnít just a blacklist for their game which Iíd be well and truly Hammering the Point home as to why itís wrong, itís claiming they will place you on a global blacklist for the likes of Paypal. Most likely by telling a blatant lie about you as thatís the only way they could get you on such a list considering they donít own or work for Paypal.
Oh but if this were the end of the controversy I wouldnít have been spurred on to write this article.
Next is the steam release controversy, as somehow the game managed to make it onto steam and was being sold there. With the game making false claims including ;
100 players per server [False as of putting it up on steam, there is now a 100 player server online]
Learn skills from exp
100+ km2 maps
Rent able servers
[size=9] anyone happen to know of anything on steam for 10p ?[//size]
Now this is presently what its page looks like Live as of writing this on steam. Youíll note some slight changes to whatís been said as while this game is version 1.0 so a full release. Those features arenít all in the game. There are no PVE only servers, there is only one map at present and thatís 75 km2 according to the game though some have worked it out to only be 10 km2 and the skill system is yet to be implemented. Luckily there were huge amount of complaints from unhappy customers about it as these were planned features and not in the game, essentially meaning you were buying into a beta without being told you were buying into an unfinished game. This is partly on steam for not checking but again it on the developer too for telling blatant lies about the features and I applaud steam for removing it and offering full refunds without threatening its customers.
So youíd think the controversy was over right ? Wrong itís managed to develop more.
A few days ago one of the developers of War Z had an interview with gamespy. During the interview some of the following comments were made.
Sergey Titov: 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. We had it at 40, we've raised it to 70, and after that we've asked our players, "What you want this number to be for Colorado map?" Over 90,000 players took [the] survey and most of them said -- 50. This is why this number is set to 50 right now. Yet -- on your own private servers you will be able to set to 100 if you want :). Size of the area, once again, come on -- [the] first map is over 100 sq km :). So [the] text is right. And for our next big map, California, we're testing map size of 420sq km.
Sergey Titov: I'm sure there'll be people who will look into small details and will say "no I was mislead," where in fact they imagined something to themselves without checking details first. I'm sure that Steam have it's refund policies that should handle those situations.
Some more choice quotes
"'Over 100 sq km' falls in '100 to 400' right?"
ďheck, it supports actually over 400 players per server as of today. Do we have servers launched with this number of slots? No we don't, because this is not what our players WANT.Ē
So yeh not exactly that great a reply, no ďSorry we screwed upĒ more of a ďwell itís your fault for not making sure we werenít telling you liesĒ
Now onto the next and what Iíd say was more annoying development. Turning the game into a pay to play game, not a subscription, but a game you pay initially to enter then to an extent have to pay more to play. Previously the game had a cash shop offering items at about $2 a piece some more some less, this Iím not really going to go mad over as while itís close to pay 2 win with survival items being on sale there itís not really going to save you and Micro transaction cash shops giving convenience things isnít wrong especially if the devs plan to support the game (See guild wars 2) however and hereís the latest info, previously you had to wait 1 hour to respawn if you died in game or you could pay about $0.40 worth on War Z cash (GC) to respawn instantly. Now 1 hour doesnít sound really that bad when you have 5 character slots and the average life expectancy on Day Z was 30 minutes. Well thatís been changed, the respawn timer is now 4 hours unless you pay, so if you have a bad run, and considering you can die to 4 hits from a flashlight itís not impossible, you could wipe out all your 5 characters in this time very easily. Considering its rival Day Z allows near instant respawns you can look at War Z and point out this isnít a convenience thing being offered to the players itís a deliberate road block being placed there to try and get cash out of players. Itís very much akin to Bullet run by Sony with the gun degradation mechanic deliberately trying to push players to pay rather than paying creating a convenience for the player. Itís a mechanic designed to create an issue not simply a mechanic inherent to the genre itself. Hereís where it gets slightly worse if you die with a cash shop item on you, you lose the item. Thatís right even silly cosmetic things, you lose them. You can pay the equivalent of $2 for a hat, spawn in, be shot and lose it within 30 minutes. One game I do know of will do similar and thatís Dust 514 apparently but that lets you buy the best armour in the game for $1 meaning itís not simply a cosmetic thing but functional, and hereís the thing Dust 514 is free to play. This is essentially developer greed showing here. I have before ranted about The Secret World due to EA wanting everything, a pay to enter game, a subscription and a cash shop on top of that , which is why Iím glad to see the subscription die on The Secret World. War Z is doing this in a round about way but has found a way to charge people based on how much they want to play and that $0.40 while it could be less than a sub, for hardcore players it might push far higher than a sub depending on how often they respawn and or buy back their items. I canít think of many other games out there that actively attempt to annoy their players so much as War Z. I mean what other game out there is there that after 1 death you have a 4 hour time out despite having bought the game ?
This just disgusts me.
Now to address the obvious counter arguments
ďBut towns wasnít finished either and that came out on steamĒ
True but it did say and have a nice warning to tell people it wasnít finished
ďBut Minecraft sold before it was finishedĒ
True again but I bought in a Beta 1.3 on PC and I was told it was a Beta and could easily tell what features were present an it wasnít trying to sell itself to me on features that werenít in the game yet.
ďBut itís getting them funding to finish the game, why do you care ?Ē
Well this is where my own experience comes in and a rather large controversy that kicked up between me and one of the main guys at VVGTV, another indie game reviewing blog. Basically I reviewed a game called Zombies, Zombies everywhere off XBLIG. I had a few people come up defending the game saying it was fine and that me claiming it was disgusting to see an unfinished game essentially trying to blackmail people into getting friends to buy. Simply on the promise that with enough sales they would add features that by this point were staples almost of the XBLIG zombie game genre. I decided to test this claim that people thought it was fine and went onto the Xbox forums and pointed this out that it was disgusting to see a game doing this. This is when the dispute with VVGTV began for me and I decided to be fair to the game and went back as it had since been updated over the time to version 1.3. I slated it again for the same reasons almost, along with again saying how bad the model was. Then began a 2 day long rather nasty dispute between me and one of the main guys from VVGTV over twitter over this issue. Iíd like to say here and now. [i]Zombies Zombies everywhere[/url] is still at version 1.3 and has not had more features added as it hasnít sold well enough.
Now you can say ďoh but at least they told you about the features they were adding.Ē Well yes they did but only at the end of the demo for the game, no-where other than that is it possible to tell what was presented wasnít a finished game or a game up to others in the genre. At 80 Microsoft points ($1 approx) some people would have bought it thinking it looked good based on the shots and not tried the demo first only to find they bought a half finished (or in this case less than) game.
Do not buy this game, do not support this developer trend of pay us more and well finish the game for you you should be paying for a complete game or have some assurance the game will be in a complete state in the future regardless before you pay
The reason I care is the reason I have had two cases with UK trading standards over other things (not against me). Because I want to see people being honest. The reason Iíll happily say how great Minecraft is, is because Mojang were honest, saying it was a Beta and not advertising features not in the game. If you want to push the future angle you have to make clear to people that the features arenít there and this is a Beta youíre buying into or alternatively if you want to advertise it as a full release you have to only advertise the features present. Mojang managed to do the best of both and say essentially ďLook this is a Beta expect things to change but hereís whatís in the game at present.Ē
I hate deception much as Iím sure most other people do and I donít believe itís being an entitled gamer to simply get what you paid for from a game, to be able to buy and game and play with the features promised. If you bought a car and it was delivered without wheels, youíd be slightly annoyed, or if it only came with one seat despite having a full set in the show room, with no indication that wasnít what you were getting.
Iím not even some rabid Day Z fanboy mad because ďOMG Dey Copied my Favoritez gameĒ I donít own a copy of Day Z but you know what, Iím still annoyed at the War Z[/i[ not because of it being similar to another game but because of all the anti consumer bullshit thatís gone on round it. You think the Penny arcade controller thing was bad well it seems to be barely a patch on the [i]War Z controversies and having seen a game already use this method then just stop because they werenít making enough Money I really feel bad that while an XBLIG game has a small audience a far larger audience might be about to face the same issue again if the War Z team decide they arenít making money and just drop the game.
Allow me to state this clearly for the record. I am not against incentivised sales. Say X sales and we give you free DLC. I am against companies using this as an excuse to pump out a barely functional title then claiming theyíll fix it if it sells / in time DLC and additions to game should be more content and features not features other games youíre competing with already have. No thatís not good enough the game should function acceptably well or people should be made well aware that they are entering a beta and not what you see as an acceptable finished product / product base to build from. For me I only entered Minecraft at Beta 1.3 as at that point I saw it as acceptable to me as a game in its own right and as such worth me buying into, everything beyond Beta 1.3 to me was then a bonus. The fact Mojang went a fair bit further feature wise until full release version 1.0 of Minecraft shows an understanding of the concept of selling something as a finished product only once there is a game in its own right present without the additional features you plan to add. You can also see this in Day Z as how shocking is it that Day Z is still technically in alpha ? thatís right the Day Z mod isnít even in Beta and yes it has the same features (and more in some aspects) than a game thatís being released by other developers as a full game in its own right.
So to sum up while War Z initially wasnít that controversial at least not a huge amount of it being substantiated to show anything wrong, the reaction since then from developers is the true reason for it to have exploded like it has over the internet.
Hopefully this has given those whoíve read it some kind of insight into this controversy beyond the one or two bits that have come up.
I'll just leave you with this message someone found upon being banned