The War Z Pulled from Steam Amid Torrent of Complaints by Players

Posted by Alex (2405 posts) -

I haven't really paid The War Z much consideration over the course of this year. It always looked to me like a crass capitalization of the success of the DayZ mod for ArmA II--which itself is getting its own full-fledged game release sometime in the future--and not much else. So perhaps this lack of initial interest is why I'm so taken aback at the crazy amount of backlash the game has received since its release earlier this week.

This is what The War Z is supposed to be. Apparently, it isn't that.

Much of that backlash seems to stem from either obfuscations of the truth, or outright lies tied to the zombie apocalypse survival game's initial product description on Steam. Developer Hammerpoint Interactive cites, among other things, up to 100 players supported per server, access to private servers, learnable character skills, and multiple maps spanning anywhere from 100 to 400 square kilometers. None of these things turned out to be true. In reality, servers were capped at 50 players, there was only one (considerably smaller than advertised) map in the game, and no skill trees whatsoever.

As of last night, Hammerpoint had altered the product's description to reflect something closer to reality, but amid an apparent onslaught of complaints from players who purchased the $15 game from Steam, Valve has pulled the game altogether, issuing a statement to Kotaku that referred to the game's release as "premature" and "a mistake."

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. 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. Those who purchased the title via Steam and are unhappy with what they received may seek a refund by creating a ticket at our support site here.

Hammerpoint boss Sergey Titov has been defending his game in a variety of interviews, including a particularly stand-offish conversation with GameSpy's Dan Stapleton, telling him that only a small percentage of players were complaining about the game's quality, while defending the original product descriptions. In a thread on The War Z's forums, Titov essentially chalked up the response to Day Z fanboys (his words, not mine) bitter about The War Z's existence.

Titov has since responded to Valve's statement on the matter, telling Kotaku, "We're making sure that our Store page is 100% correct this is why. Bottom line – our end goal is to have satisfied and not angry customers, so this is more important for us than everything else."

Titov, it's worth noting, has something of a checkered history in the game industry. He's credited on a number of different games, including the original Gears of War and League of Legends, but he's also purportedly the brain behind Stellar Stone, the sort-of-developer of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, otherwise known as the worst goddamn game ever made.

I don't know if Titov is a snake oil salesman or just supremely misguided in his understanding of how game development ought to work--I have a guess, but probably oughtn't share it here--but whatever the case, the damage seems to be done. Whether or not The War Z ever lives up to its original promises is largely irrelevant, and if the game ever does come back to Steam, it's hard to imagine players flocking to a game that's received such a critical drubbing both in the press and by its own players.

For what it's worth, if The War Z does end up back on Steam, I'll definitely check it out and report back on just what the hell is going on with this thing.

#1 Posted by Alex (2405 posts) -

I haven't really paid The War Z much consideration over the course of this year. It always looked to me like a crass capitalization of the success of the DayZ mod for ArmA II--which itself is getting its own full-fledged game release sometime in the future--and not much else. So perhaps this lack of initial interest is why I'm so taken aback at the crazy amount of backlash the game has received since its release earlier this week.

This is what The War Z is supposed to be. Apparently, it isn't that.

Much of that backlash seems to stem from either obfuscations of the truth, or outright lies tied to the zombie apocalypse survival game's initial product description on Steam. Developer Hammerpoint Interactive cites, among other things, up to 100 players supported per server, access to private servers, learnable character skills, and multiple maps spanning anywhere from 100 to 400 square kilometers. None of these things turned out to be true. In reality, servers were capped at 50 players, there was only one (considerably smaller than advertised) map in the game, and no skill trees whatsoever.

As of last night, Hammerpoint had altered the product's description to reflect something closer to reality, but amid an apparent onslaught of complaints from players who purchased the $15 game from Steam, Valve has pulled the game altogether, issuing a statement to Kotaku that referred to the game's release as "premature" and "a mistake."

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. 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. Those who purchased the title via Steam and are unhappy with what they received may seek a refund by creating a ticket at our support site here.

Hammerpoint boss Sergey Titov has been defending his game in a variety of interviews, including a particularly stand-offish conversation with GameSpy's Dan Stapleton, telling him that only a small percentage of players were complaining about the game's quality, while defending the original product descriptions. In a thread on The War Z's forums, Titov essentially chalked up the response to Day Z fanboys (his words, not mine) bitter about The War Z's existence.

Titov has since responded to Valve's statement on the matter, telling Kotaku, "We're making sure that our Store page is 100% correct this is why. Bottom line – our end goal is to have satisfied and not angry customers, so this is more important for us than everything else."

Titov, it's worth noting, has something of a checkered history in the game industry. He's credited on a number of different games, including the original Gears of War and League of Legends, but he's also purportedly the brain behind Stellar Stone, the sort-of-developer of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, otherwise known as the worst goddamn game ever made.

I don't know if Titov is a snake oil salesman or just supremely misguided in his understanding of how game development ought to work--I have a guess, but probably oughtn't share it here--but whatever the case, the damage seems to be done. Whether or not The War Z ever lives up to its original promises is largely irrelevant, and if the game ever does come back to Steam, it's hard to imagine players flocking to a game that's received such a critical drubbing both in the press and by its own players.

For what it's worth, if The War Z does end up back on Steam, I'll definitely check it out and report back on just what the hell is going on with this thing.

#2 Posted by khopps17 (51 posts) -

damn...

#4 Posted by Djnuttty (139 posts) -

Crazy.

#5 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -

Ouch. I thought they wouldn't do that  because they would lose money. Also, a bunch of one-word comments? Seriously guys?

#6 Posted by hankrazorbeard (60 posts) -

Haha, oh wow. I don't know why I'm surprised that this is the outcome of this entire mess.

#7 Posted by Droop (1916 posts) -

"oughtn't"

#8 Posted by crusader8463 (14429 posts) -

Good to see Valve supporting the consumers.

#9 Posted by MetalGearSunny (7003 posts) -

Awesome!

#10 Posted by fargofallout (303 posts) -

I'd like to point out that the video review of Big Rigs done by is still up at GameSpot - he seems incredibly thrilled to be playing it.

#11 Posted by benu302000 (213 posts) -

Somewhere Derek Smart is proud.

#12 Posted by MjHealy (1877 posts) -

PUT BIG RIGS ON STEAM GREENLIGHT

#13 Posted by MachoFantastico (4890 posts) -

While I'm glad they've taken this action, it's taken Valve long enough to do this. The fact that it was the number one seller on Steam baffles me to no end, who was buying this with all the crap surrounding it?

#14 Posted by PosableActionFigure (188 posts) -

@Djnuttty said:

Crazy.

Cray Z

#15 Posted by Red12b (9085 posts) -

YOU'RE WINNER!

#16 Posted by familyphotoshoot (654 posts) -

Anyone who bought the game is an idiot.

I hope you don't get your money back.

#17 Posted by kgb0515 (405 posts) -

And to think, I was duped into believing this would be a good game at one time. Thankfully, I didn't buy it. Ironically, a freind of mine who gave me grief for being excited about it bought it. Guess the joke is on him.

#18 Posted by Djnuttty (139 posts) -

@PosableActionFigure said:

@Djnuttty said:

Crazy.

Cray Z

I love you.

#19 Posted by SecondHeartbeat (34 posts) -

Alex Navarro War Z Quick Look please!

#20 Posted by buft (3320 posts) -

I thought The War Z was the standalone version of Day Z for Arma, i was fairly misinformed, admittedly through faults of my own rather than anyone over at Hammerpoint but from what I read the game had some fairly stinking micro transactions like buying a revive or waiting four hours for a free one which they increased from 1 hour some time ago and that Early adapters to the alpha paid more for the privilege.

#21 Posted by Doctorchimp (4055 posts) -

Who bought this?

I mean yeah, Steam shouldn't have put it up...but you people who are mad over 15 or 25 dollars have to be more careful if you get this enraged...jesus.

#22 Posted by stalefishies (347 posts) -

Honestly, anything that tricks Alex into talking about Big Rigs again is fine by me.

#23 Posted by EricW (3 posts) -

I wonder what kind of credit he has on Gears and LoL. Alex, now I'm curious. What was your guess on Titov?

#24 Posted by Trilogy (2692 posts) -

As I said in a thread a bit ago, I knew this game was shady as soon as I saw that they were selling you the game and micro transactions on top of it. It just reeked of ripoff.

#25 Posted by Draxyle (1899 posts) -

There's something weird about the consumer buying such an obvious knock-off in huge droves. It's only 15$, but I can name thousands of other games that are much more deserving of that cash. At least the devs are sorta being held responsible for blatant lying.

#26 Posted by Luck702 (580 posts) -

These guys are such scum. Not only is everything stated in the article true, but there is also tons of stories of people being banned for no reason, in an attempt to double dip on game sales. Also, not only do you pay $15 for the game, apparently there's a 4 hour re-spawn time if your character dies, unless you pay them 40 some odd cents. Do not, I repeat, do not buy into this scam. If you're interested in the concept but was waiting for a more polished experience than what Arma could offer, just wait for the Day-Z standalone.

#27 Posted by RandomInternetUser (6789 posts) -

AHAHA BIG RIGS

Also, I was thinking this was going to happen with all the terrible shit I've heard about this game and what the developer is doing.

#28 Posted by C2C (861 posts) -

"oughtn't" what a weird contraction that is. Bonus points for you Alex.

#29 Posted by jakob187 (21764 posts) -

It's a boring rehash of War Inc. that does exactly what I suspected would happen some time ago when Minecraft had people paying for a beta: it's fooled people into handing money over for a promise rather than a product that has everything already there.

This game is a prime example of why things like "paying for a beta game" and "Kickstarter" can be dangerous things in this industry. Know what you are paying for.

#30 Posted by Milkman (17350 posts) -

Who are the people buying this game? I had heard absolutely nothing about it until it was released and then the reaction was immediately "this game is a piece of garbage and the developers are lying scum." Was there some sort of hype train surrounding this game that I missed?

#31 Posted by Cactusapple (77 posts) -

It's only been on Steam for about 24 hours. As soon as it was obvious it shouldn't be being sold as a full game, they took it down and are offering full refunds. I really don't think Steam can be faulted on this one, the devs clearly took advantage of the trust placed in them from having another title previously released on Steam.

Hopefully this will prompt ALL titles being thoroughly checked by playtesters before going on Steam in the future. Well, we can dream...

#32 Posted by BasketSnake (1293 posts) -

I bought it knowing it was bad but it was BAAAD.

#33 Posted by year199X (67 posts) -

@familyphotoshoot said:

Anyone who bought the game is an idiot.

I hope you don't get your money back.

Rude.

#34 Posted by Cactusapple (77 posts) -

It's high profile stories like this that are going to hurt future potentially good kickstarters. Then again, anything that encourages people to be more careful with their money can only be good for the industry in the long run.

#35 Posted by Abendlaender (2889 posts) -

@PosableActionFigure said:

@Djnuttty said:

Crazy.

Cray Z

I hate you :D

Also an Alex/Titov Reunion? Big Rigs 2: The War Z? Sounds amazing

#36 Edited by Grimluck343 (1160 posts) -

We did it, Internet!

Also, all of this talk about Big Rigs makes me pine for the return of Burning Questions. Come on Alex, what else are you doing?

#37 Posted by Sooty (8082 posts) -

I say fuck this company for such a shameless copy. They can get bent.

#38 Posted by Christoffer (1923 posts) -

So this isn't game of t he year, I recon.

#40 Posted by notdavid (842 posts) -

The revelation that this is made by the dude that did Big Rigs is blowing my feeble mind.

#41 Posted by lamzor (50 posts) -

Irony?

Although the packaging of Big Rigs states that the main objective of the game is to race their semi-trailer truck (known colloquially as a "Big Rig") to safety in order to deliver illegal cargo being carried by the vessel, while avoiding the local police force, in actuality, there are no police in the game, and no such objectives are presented within the game itself. Much of the game instead centers on the player racing their truck against fellow drivers to the finish line; however, the player's computer-controlled opponent vehicles have no AI and never move from the starting position. In addition, due to a lack of collision detection, there are no obstacles to negotiate within the game, and the laws of physics can be violated frequently
#42 Posted by gbrading (2146 posts) -

Titov worked for Stellar Stone? And made Big Rigs?!?!

And he's still making games...

#43 Posted by Tesla (1945 posts) -

It amazes me how many people continued to buy the game as these claims of outright fraud kept growing and growing in number and intensity. For as savvy as PC gamers like to think we are, a lot of them sure were duped quite easily.

I have no sympathy beyond the initial buyers of the game. Once the cat is out of the bag there is no excuse. Do your research, buyer beware and all that stuff. Sure their game is yanked now, but not before they made a little bit of coin. Off of more hardcore, educated gamers no less.

#44 Posted by JesterPC238 (345 posts) -

I hadn't heard of the game prior to seeing it in Steam's new releases. I almost bought it on promise alone, but decided against it specifically because I hadn't heard anything about it, and because it seemed to be such a blatant rip of DayZ. At any rate, crazy story, good on Valve for pulling it I guess? Seems like maybe they need to hire a few more cert folks.

#45 Posted by bassman2112 (859 posts) -

@GenocidalKitten said:

@PosableActionFigure said:

@Djnuttty said:

Crazy.

Cray Z

Cray Zii

CrayZU

#46 Edited by Bistromath (640 posts) -

Bad Rats: 1

The War Z: 0

#47 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7617 posts) -

I didn't buy the game and I never had any interest in ever playing it, but after reading the comments that the lead designer made about "fanboys misinterpreting the description" I'm very happy to see this game get pulled.

This has to be one of the shadiest game developers I've ever seen, outside of Chinese romhacked bootlegs. Everything about their game seems to have been designed to rip people off as much as possible, with little effort going into actually making a fun game or building up a strong fanbase. It's really sickening.

#48 Posted by Meepasaurus (225 posts) -

Thank you, Alex - Giant Bomb's resident Sergey Titov expert.

#49 Posted by bingbangboom (102 posts) -

I am surprised it got on Steam period.

#50 Posted by Crunchman (397 posts) -

It's not that bad to rip something off, but to claim that The War Z was the project all along is just an aspect of the bullshittery that makes their company seem gross and shady. It reeks of being a quick money grab with no intention of long term development.

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