Email from sergey titov to war z

#1 Posted by ChewEqfp (25 posts) -

Dear fellow Survivors,

It has now been more than two months since we launched public access to The War Z. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs, and I thought that this Holiday break was the right time for me to try to step back a little and think about our journey since it started. This may be a little long, but I would appreciate if you could stay with me for a few minutes as I try to go over the highlights of the game as well as some of the hurdles and controversies, how we have addressed that and what our plans are.

First of all a very big and sincere “Thank You!” to all of you. We are really proud of the community we have formed with you guys. Every day we have hundreds of thousands of players on our servers, and this is a life-changing event for the team and me. We are blessed to have you as members of the community and we are well aware that without you the game would be nothing. Along with that thanks, though, I need to admit that we failed to effectively communicate some of our plans and actions to both our existing players and to our new prospective players. This failure to communicate resulted in some very negative feedback from some members of our community, but while it might be easy to label them as “haters” or some other dismissive term, in all honesty this is my fault. I became arrogant and blinded by the early success and quick growth of The War Z, our increasing number of players, numbers we were getting from surveys, etc., and I chose not to notice the concerns and questions raised by these members of the game community as well as others. This failure is entirely on my shoulders and if anything I owe thanks to that vocal minority and admit that I should have paid attention sooner. I chose instead to concentrate on the bigger picture – my dream of turning The War Z from being a game developed by a small indie team into a large online venture, instead of addressing small things first and staying focused on the game issues. At the end my arrogance led us to the moment, when all those small things finally caught up and created a “perfect storm” that affected all of our community members. For that I’m truly sorry and apologize to all of our community as well as the larger PC gaming community that is not yet playing The War Z.

I do not take this situation lightly, and last week events were especially humbling for me. I’ve experienced a range of emotions, most of which centered on regret for not having addressed some of the issues differently than we did, but we can’t change the past. The only thing we can do is to be sure that we won’t repeat the same mistakes in the future. I have realized that as the leader of this ship, I missed all early warnings that were saying, “Your community is not as happy as you think they are, you need to alter course.” I was too focused on how great we are and how a small independent team got their first game to over 700,000 users in a two-month period. Though that is something to be very proud of, allowing that to overshadow the existing community and their satisfaction was poor judgment.

I want to give you some insight into what our plans are for the future, but before we get to that, I’d like to clear the air with you on several important topics.

Community management and moderation – the problem

Even since the early Alpha launch, this game has always cultivated a large and loyal player base that is very active in the game. Again, thank you for this. Unfortunately, we weren’t prepared for this large success and the way we managed the community was not the way it should’ve been. We relied too much on forum moderators, whose primary role was to punish those who break rules, not to engage the community and guide conversations into productive discussions about problems. There wasn’t enough presence of the development team on forums, there wasn’t enough updates on development of UPCOMING features. We failed to communicate our position and messaging on the outside platforms such as Facebook, twitter and various online websites, and when we did this we chose to rely more on arrogance rather than being humble and trying to understand why people were saying negative things. We chose to tune out negative reactions to the game, not paying enough attention to them – and this, again, is my fault. We chose to rely too much on numbers – percentage of refund requests, number and dynamic of our daily and monthly active users, etc. Well, in hindsight – those things probably work well for more casual games, but the hardcore PC gaming community is much different and can be very vocal about what they feel. Even when the percentage of players with negative comments is small, as the community grows, even a small percentage can add up to be a very significant absolute number. And it’s not just a number – those are real people with real issues they are having with the game. OP Productions (publisher for War Z) and me personally have failed to address those issues effectively.

Community management and moderation – the solution!

We’re changing our community management procedures and rules right now. We’re going to reevaluate publishing and marketing team performance, and I will make sure that Hammerpoint Interactive developers will have a much stronger voice when it comes to community management and we won’t rely 100% on OP Productions to single handedly handle this. Lots of changes will be happening very fast in the weeks to come. One of the ideas that I proposed was to select 10 players from around the world who can represent the player community and invite them to our offices in Los Angeles, to meet the team, check out what we’re doing, and share with actual developers their concerns, wishes and thoughts on the game. We also will involve community, to a much higher degree, in the process of making our next map for the War Z (called “California”). We’ll be discussing many of the aspects of the map with you and asking for feedback.

We’re revisiting our forum policies; we’re going to bring on an additional community management team, additional moderators and we’ll train them how to respond to things properly. There will still be restrictions on harassment, trash talk, etc. But we’ll make sure that every opinion is heard. At the same time, I must also be cautious: we cannot address all issues and there cannot be only one voice. Please accept that. With hundreds of thousands of players playing, talking, chatting, voicing their strong opinions, there will always be diverging opinions. And some issues that are minor ones are sometimes brought to light by very vocal channels. I would even say there is sometimes a beginning of controversy because the game is now so popular. So there is sometimes a distortion between the severity of the issue and the attention it gets. But we will clearly implement steps to better listen to the community.

What is Foundation Release?

The most asked question of the last week was “is this the final release?” My answer has always been that for an online game a “final” release means that the game is dead – so there’s really no such thing, you never stop developing, making changes to and adding new features to the game. This is how we came to call the current version of The War Z “Foundation Release.” We launched the Foundation Release on December 17, 2012 as our first-stage release that we use as a foundation to build upon. It does include the core features and a fully playable environment. This is our version 1.0, and of course we will continue to improve that version as time goes on. Did we rush to get it done? That is a tough question, but to answer honestly I think that we all pushed very hard to be first to market and in time for the holidays. Our entire team was working late, long hours to iron out issues and include as many features as possible. This is part of the reality of being a smaller, independent game developer. If we had a larger team and more funding we may have done things differently, but I’m not sure. I don’t think it was a mistake because our numbers have been strong since day one and, even with the recent negativity, our metrics are really solid and we’ve been continuing to grow. The negative opinions are always the most vocal, but most players are really enjoying the game and we’ve been attracting more and more daily active players every week. A lot of the gaming journalists that have been playing the game have also given us some great feedback. I realize that we will take a few hits from some of the traditional gaming press in terms of review scores, but I’m hoping that even they will consider that this game is a living project that will continue to evolve as time goes on. We are very proud of our Foundation Release, and we do stand behind it like we have stood behind any previous version.

What’s on the Horizon?

As for what will happen next with The War Z? We’re currently evaluating the relationship between Hammerpoint and OP Productions. I firmly believe that Hammerpoint should be playing a more prominent role in publishing/game operating process. We’re in a process of adding new key members to our team, bringing on guys who have much more experience operating and growing successful online games and I know this is going to make a huge difference in terms of development. We’ll be making some big decisions in terms of leadership for both companies and I will personally change how I handle many things. Above all we will continue to develop and make this game the best that it can be.

I know that to some people my words won’t matter much. I understand that. I hope that will change as we move forward and deliver the features that our players have been waiting for. I can promise you that from now on things will be much more transparent, and we’ll provide better communication and engage our community to discuss upcoming features way before they appear in the game.

I do believe that we aren’t even close to uncovering the true potential for The War Z, and I hope that in the coming year, we’ll be able to regain trust from people who were alienated by our actions and we’ll be able to move forward and grow the game together.

Thank you for reading all this, thank you for supporting the game and thank you for helping us to change and realize what’s important as well as what is not.

I hope you are all having a happy holiday and I wish you the best for the New Year!

Sincerely,

Sergey Titov

Executive Producer, The War Z

#2 Posted by jakob187 (21663 posts) -

PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSH!

#3 Posted by Cloudenvy (5891 posts) -

@ChewEqfp said:

We chose to rely too much on numbers – percentage of refund requests, number and dynamic of our daily and monthly active users, etc. Well, in hindsight – those things probably work well for more casual games, but the hardcore PC gaming community is much different and can be very vocal about what they feel. Even when the percentage of players with negative comments is small, as the community grows, even a small percentage can add up to be a very significant absolute number. And it’s not just a number – those are real people with real issues they are having with the game. OP Productions (publisher for War Z) and me personally have failed to address those issues effectively.

Good on you!

Did we rush to get it done? That is a tough question, but to answer honestly I think that we all pushed very hard to be first to market and in time for the holidays. Our entire team was working late, long hours to iron out issues and include as many features as possible. This is part of the reality of being a smaller, independent game developer. If we had a larger team and more funding we may have done things differently, but I’m not sure. I don’t think it was a mistake because our numbers have been strong since day one and, even with the recent negativity, our metrics are really solid and we’ve been continuing to grow. The negative opinions are always the most vocal, but most players are really enjoying the game and we’ve been attracting more and more daily active players every week.

Oh fuck off.

#4 Posted by connerthekewlkid (1825 posts) -

@jakob187 said:

PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSH!

wut?

#5 Posted by ChewEqfp (25 posts) -

I think he's still coming off as arrogant. As executive producer sales are gonna be his main focus, That's expected, But this reads like it was written by someone who's deluded about what the real problems people have are. The game isn't finished, yes. however in this day and age (they shouldn't but...) lots of games ship unfinished; on PC specifically. He advertised features that were not in the game as a point of sale. I personally was interested in the game because of multiple maps and skill progression being a part of the package. He's trying to spear head the storm of criticism and convince the community that it's about a whole other topic. It's not critics and vocal minority hating on a hard luck case. People are seeing an outright cash grab in all forms, from an intentionally similar name, to false advertising on the release quality, and features of the product. Calling this game 1.0 meaning its is a gold release and not in beta, with features outright missing from the game is a total snow job. That's not a graphics glitch or screen tearing, It's core features that are advertised to be in the product you're purchasing at the time of purchase. That's not a mistake they made on the website or steam in the product description. It's a bold faced lie in a direct attempt to over sell the product for more than it's worth.

Video games have always aped one another to cash in on a good idea. New genre's are often even named after the game that spawned their ilk (i.e. Doom clone, Rogue like) So similarities to Day Z are forgivable. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, But willfully deceiving the public about your game and then trying to glaze over the people you duped with an email, the intention of which, is to make these people think the outcry on the net is about the game being buggy, or the harshness with which you ban people from the forums, is completely transparent as a way of missdirection from the base problem with the game. It's snake oil.

#6 Posted by connerthekewlkid (1825 posts) -

@ChewEqfp said:

I think he's still coming off as arrogant. As executive producer sales are gonna be his main focus, That's expected, But this reads like it was written by someone who's deluded about what the real problems people have are. The game isn't finished, yes. however in this day and age (they shouldn't but...) lots of games ship unfinished; on PC specifically. He advertised features that were not in the game as a point of sale. I personally was interested in the game because of multiple maps and skill progression being a part of the package. He's trying to spear head the storm of criticism and convince the community that it's about a whole other topic. It's not critics and vocal minority hating on a hard luck case. People are seeing an outright cash grab in all forms, from an intentionally similar name, to false advertising on the release quality, and features of the product. Calling this game 1.0 meaning its is a gold release and not in beta, with features outright missing from the game is a total snow job. That's not a graphics glitch or screen tearing, It's core features that are advertised to be in the product you're purchasing at the time of purchase. That's not a mistake they made on the website or steam in the product description. It's a bold faced lie in a direct attempt to over sell the product for more than it's worth.

Video games have always aped one another to cash in on a good idea. New genre's are often even named after the game that spawned their ilk (i.e. Doom clone, Rogue like) So similarities to Day Z are forgivable. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, But willfully deceiving the public about your game and then trying to glaze over the people you duped with an email, the intention of which, is to make these people think the outcry on the net is about the game being buggy, or the harshness with which you ban people from the forums, is completely transparent as a way of missdirection from the base problem with the game. It's snake oil.

the Internet will be on this in seconds i can guarantee you

#7 Posted by Subjugation (4719 posts) -

If you have to send out a damage control email like this, then no, you are not in such a grand position as is suggested by Mr. Titov.

#8 Posted by Kidavenger (3530 posts) -

I don't know why people are still talking about this game, it's a piece of shit, stop giving them exposure.

#9 Posted by connerthekewlkid (1825 posts) -

@Kidavenger said:

I don't know why people are still talking about this game, it's a piece of shit, stop giving them exposure.

if you know anything about the internet is that they love beating a dead horse

#10 Posted by Hailinel (24382 posts) -

Translation:

Dear Assholes,

The only thing I'm sorry about is that we got caught trying to swindle you. Game development is a lot different since the days I shat out Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing and we failed to cover our tracks better. We certainly weren't expecting being forced to give back the money we swindled from you dumb fuckers. I hope you're stupid enough to fall for my next ploy without all of this "refund" bullshit.

Sincerely,

Sergey Titov

P.S.: Really, fuck right off, you little shits.

#11 Posted by jakob187 (21663 posts) -

@connerthekewlkid: I didn't really think that my comment would need elaboration given the past month's worth of insanity around this game, but I'll offer it...

1. Titov worked at Riot, a company that KNOWS DAMN WELL how to pull off a progressive online gaming model with microtransactions. The idea that he couldn't pull a single lesson of humility, transparency, and dedication to the community from the time spent there is fucking mind-blowing to me.

2. Titov has remained arrogant through the entire thing, and this whole thing spews of arrogance as well. However, instead of using his assaulting arrogance like he has in the past few weeks, he is using the "look at how pathetic I've been, I'm sorry but I still think we're right" arrogance. I imagine that all of this is to try and show some form of humility in the face of potentially being sued by Paramount.

3. Saying and doing are two drastically different things. I could say that I'm going to quit my job, start putting every penny of my money towards charities and disease research, and devote my time and efforts to feeding all the starving kids in the world...but doing it is a completely different thing. If he can actually hold to anything he says (more transparency, better treatment of the community, no more false advertising about what the game is...which he is already doing in this letter by calling it a 1.0 version even though it's still beta), then I would probably feel a bit differently.

My buddy has come over, installed this game, and played it. It's boring, dull, and just seems like a quick-buck project to coincide with things like Day Z and World War Z getting attention. Beyond that, Titov's handling of the entire situation in a very public venue has been filthy and dumb.

If he can turn a new leaf on it all, cool. I just don't see it happening given the behavior and attitude he has already shown.

So......I say PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSH!

#12 Posted by kgb0515 (411 posts) -

At least he had someone else edit/write this for him. I know it's bad to pick on his broken English, but I always wonder why he doesn't bother to have any of his stuff edited before posting. This game is still garbage IMO.

#13 Posted by Krakn3Dfx (2488 posts) -

"while it might be easy to label them as "haters" or some other dismissive term"

What...an asshole.

#14 Posted by Sackmanjones (4685 posts) -

It just doesn't end for this game.

#15 Posted by Jace (1092 posts) -

@ChewEqfp said:

Dear fellow Survivors,

WHERE IS EVERYONE GOING?! WAIT, PLEASE COME BACK! FUCK!!!!

Sincerely,

Sergey Titov

Executive Producer, The War Z

For those who would like a summary.

#16 Posted by ChewEqfp (25 posts) -

And he's completely obtuse about what the main gripe is, He clearly misrepresented the products features in order to achieve higher sales. The Interviewer on game spy put it well by likening it to selling a car you claim goes 100 MPH that only goes 50. It's not as if there inst some type of language you can put in a features text that conveys the ability to patch in new features. They didn't do that, they claimed this stuff was in there already. If you tell me i'm buying a a working computer with internet WiFi and an nvidia 660, then i buy the computer and get integrated video card and dial up. You don't get to tell me the other stuff will be sent in the mail eventually. No one will believe i misinterpreted the language. "features" is not figurative it's literal, it means featured within this product you are agreeing to purchase are the following things...

And he talks about how many units he sold to the people who bought the product as if that is going to make us feel better about the product. I just petitioned about my refund with steam today as a direct result of this email. I was just gonna chalk it up to a game i bought and didn't wanna play anymore. The guy says in that there policy for people who purchased through there publisher is if some plays for 20-30 mins and wants a refund no problem. but if you play for 5 hours then you dont get a refund...i played for 40 mins personally so that doesn't apply to me but, are you f*cking kidding?

they shipped a car with no tires and told customers to drive home in it, if you don't make it down the block. We'll give you back your money. If you made it home, No deal, you're stuck with it.

#17 Posted by envane (1162 posts) -

@Cloudenvy: forgive them , their metrics for player activity are probably done by the same guys that said 10sq km = 100+

#18 Posted by Freki (104 posts) -

I feel bad for those who got scammed by Sergey and his team - I hope they get their legal come'up'ings and that DayZ's standalone will not be affected by this..

#19 Posted by BigBoss1911 (2434 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

Translation:

Dear Assholes,

The only thing I'm sorry about is that we got caught trying to swindle you. Game development is a lot different since the days I shat out Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing and we failed to cover our tracks better. We certainly weren't expecting being forced to give back the money we swindled from you dumb fuckers. I hope you're stupid enough to fall for my next ploy without all of this "refund" bullshit.

Sincerely,

Sergey Titov

P.S.: Really, fuck right off, you little shits.

Basically.

#20 Posted by White (1341 posts) -

But guys, Big Rigs is SUCH an amazing game!

#21 Posted by Kornnugget (28 posts) -

I think we should start taking bets how long he servers for WAR-Z will be up. I say they will shut them down before Feb. That should give them enough time to pocket the money.

#22 Posted by TrafalgarLaw (1112 posts) -

He didn't learn after Big Rigs...? Asshole...

#23 Posted by mordukai (7150 posts) -

This letter has PR damage control written all over it.

#24 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

I still can't understand why there are people who defend this man and this "game"

#25 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7076 posts) -

I'm taking bets for how long before the story breaks that he's

#26 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7076 posts) -
@MariachiMacabre
I'm taking bets for how long before the story breaks that he's
Stupid mobile site...

I'm taking bets for how long before the story breaks that he's "stepped down".
#27 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

I hope this clown is eventually faced with the legal equivalent of sitting in the corner with a dunce cap on.

#28 Posted by Spectrea (35 posts) -

He has definitely hired a marketing director haha, or he was super fast at learning english.

#29 Edited by Akyho (1597 posts) -

@Ravenlight: Id call you a childish mad man....if it was not for the fact a state in America, had a judge rule that a woman who drove onto the opposite sidewalk to avoid a School bus offloading kids, every time she drove past over a three month period. Was ordered by the judge to stand at the corner of the road with a sign saying "I am stupid, I endangered lives of School children for my own convenience." for two hours every day between School ending and kids going home.

Apparently its a legal way of punishment, a literal dunce cap is not very far off.

Ive taken a course in PR and while I am not an expert (it was the course I kept failing....the lecturer was a crazy bitch...long story.) that is purely PR. I also dont think Sergey wrote that, I think if anything a PR person went over it and changed it after Sergeys rough draft.

Its full of PR BUZZ words and double meanings. Sergey has not been recorded using those in past, even if he is apologetic. UNTIL an email that was admitted to have been "altered" by PR, which "is not unusual for companies." admitted Sergeys PR team.

If anything it looks like PR sat on his shoulder and is making sure he does nothing without their go ahead.

Online
#30 Posted by Carryboy (644 posts) -

Didnt read any of this just wanted to say Sergey Titov, great name.

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