Hammerpoint’s zombie MMO has been beset by scandal since launch. Sean Knight worries that the bad press will impact on the similarly named DayZ
Things haven’t been going well for The War Z MMO since its launch. Over a short period of time, some bad decisions have been made, prompting a lot of ire from the gaming community and a lot of lurid news stories.
Soon after the run of bad press, DayZ creator Dean Hall took part in a Reddit AMA session and said he was “very angry” about the effect The War Z’s scandal was having on his own development. Which leads one to ask the question, will Hammerpoint Interactive’s game affect DayZ’s sales when the standalone survival game is released?
At first glance there are many similarities between the two titles. Both games are open-world survival horror IPs where players struggle to survive for as long as possible in a hostile environment. The most discussed feature is permadeath – when the player’s character dies, that is it; whether eaten by zombies, killed by other players, or overcome by thirst or hunger, once the player’s character dies, they lose all their items and have to start over again with a new avatar.
Despite superficial similarities, experienced players will point out there are many differences between the two titles, most notably how unforgiving DayZ is compared to The War Z. The problem is that the general public could (and, in fact, do) confuse the two, which is probably why Hammerpoint Interactive chose to name its title The War Z at the time that DayZ, then still just an Arma II mod, was becoming popular.
Whatever the case may have been early in the development of both games, recent events at Hammerpoint haven’t been good. When the game was released on Steam, retailing for $15, there was an immediate backlash over the non-appearance of features advertised in the game’s description. After a day or two of angry forum raging, Valve pulled the game from Steam and, not long after, The War Z executive producer Sergey Titov issued an apology.
But, in addition to the Steam controversy, the MMO’s micro-transaction system has also come under fire. In The War Z, players were able to spend real cash to purchase items in the game but, if killed while playing, permanently lost those items – a point the in-game shop failed to mention. Additionally, the game’s default four-hour respawn time could be immediately bypassed for a small cash sum.
With all this bad publicity for its similarly named rival, DayZ’s sales stand to be affected when the standalone version is finally released. Hall’s own experience with friends and family confusing the two games shows what the game is already facing, “I’m quite hurt personally because anyone can see how similar the words are, and while the average gamer knows the difference, individual people don’t. I’ve had family members/close friends mistake the difference and confront me about what they believed was unethical behavior they thought I was making.”
At the very least Hammerpoint’s debacle could result in the general public being reluctant to purchase DayZ when it releases. At most, The War Z experience will leave such a bitter taste in consumers’ mouths that they won’t even consider purchasing Hall’s game. Sure, DayZ’s core audience will be the first to purchase the game but to be a financial success it needs to entice mainstream gamers, a group that could have already been negatively influenced by the bad press surrounding The War Z.
Follow Sean on Twitter: @SeanDKnight