Following accusations of lying about its game, The War Z developer Hammerpoint has compounded its guilt by silencing dissent any way it can. On both their official forums and the Steam board, anybody criticizing the game has been eradicated.
One of those silenced is Steam user Hummuluis, who wrote the detailed War Z review featured in our last story. His review, which was written fairly and provided a lengthy, detailed description of the game's inaccurate selling points, was taken down by a moderator named Kewk.
As you might expect, Hummuluis was also banned. The reason? "User is only here to spread hate and not contribute to the community."
Kewk also happens to be a War Z community manager and moderates Hammerpoint's own forums, where he has a reputation for being rude to users and banning them for minor infractions. If you dare to suggest the studio is doing something wrong, you're designated a troublemaker and swiftly shipped out.
"This ban and censorship is just an example of why I made the post, and unfortunately it appears their censorship now spreads to the War Z Steam forums," Hummuluis told Destructoid. "It's truly a shame. They have been constantly removing and giving bans out to most anyone on their own forums who post anything remotely bad about the game.
"It's a sad day for gamers, when they cannot even make a thread on a community such as Steam in the 'Game Discussion,' to say what's on their mind about the game. Just look at the rules posted by Kewk, and one quickly realizes you either post something good about the game or nothing at all. All along, they have been hiding the bad and sugar coating it with what good there is -- which isn't much."
Indeed, Kewk's personal rules post -- which he posted in addition to the guidelines already set up by Valve -- are quite stringent and seem designed to eliminate any public concerns users may have about the game. Taboo topics include refund requests, moderator behavior, mention of in-game cheaters, or revealing that you've stopped playing the game. In his lawmaking, he generally gives off the impression of being Dwight Schrute.
Over on Hammerpoint's forums, studio boss Sergey Titov has addressed accusations of fraud by suggesting customers didn't "interpret" the game's description correctly.
"... 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," he wrote. "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."
Indeed, the game's store page has made a few subtle edits to take out some of the larger whoppers. Mention of skills are gone, as is overblown talk of map sizes and private servers. It's been reported that Hammerpoint also quietly upped the server cap from 50 to 100, to be in line with advertising claims.
However, this apparently wouldn't be Hammerpoint if it didn't do more to piss users off. While everybody was focused on the whole fraud thing, the developer smuggled more free-to-play elements into the experience -- adding controversial microtransactions to the respawn process. Originally, it would take sixty minutes after death to get back into the action. That time how now suddenly jumped up to four hours, with a charge of 50GC (about forty cents) to pay for a quicker spawn.
Additionally, users are now being forced to sign fresh terms of service which categorically deny refunds.
Valve, for its part, is investigating the claims of unfair forum censorship, though it's yet to address concerns about the misleading sales themselves. It has, however, said users should be free to post any criticisms they want about the game.
All told, Hammerpoint's attempts to save face have only made it look worse. By censoring criticism and weaseling out of culpability by blaming customer "interpretations" of claims that simply weren't true, the studio's only come off as more guilty.
So ... congratulations there, guys.