War Z Becomes a War of Attrition
It's been an eventful time in the zombie apocalypse. Despite remaining amongst the highest selling Steam titles of the moment, a rather hefty furore has built up around this Hammerpoint head (see what I did there?) with many players clamouring and hammering (oh, I'm so witty!) at the doors for answers.
The game has already been pulled from the store (more on that in a moment) with an official apology by Doug Lombardi stating :
“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. Again, we apologize any inconvenience.”
Leaving aside the issue that Valve are apologising for something they didn't even do (now that is customer service) there's the larger issue of why it was pulled. Speaking in response to allegations of false advertising, Sergey Titov (the game's executive producer) was adamant that this was all to be laid at the feet of misrepresenting players.
"Okay, if text is saying 'up to 100 players', yes, I may imagine situation when somebody will say 'okay it HAVE TO BE 100.' 'Over 100 sq km' falls in '100 to 400' right?" He said, going on to argue, "okay my point is that online games are a living breathing GAME SERVICE. This is not a boxed product that you buy one time. It's evolving product that will have more and more features and content coming it. This is what The War Z is."
Now, this could be a cultural thing, but yes Titov, that is false advertising. Just because it was not explicitly stated that some servers will actually have 100 players, and there will be multiple maps (only one currently exists) with sizes of 100km for the smallest and 400km for the largest. Just because those statements were not made explicit, the inference is strong enough that not meeting those requirements is legally quantified as dishonest.
But the story doesn't end there. As if that wasn't bad enough, a large number of players have reported being banned from the servers simply for voicing criticism about these very things. The Steam page has been reworded to clarify these details (kinda' redundant since the listing was pulled? But whatever) and Valve have assured us that they are conducting a thorough investigation. But my word! It's like some kind of Shakesprean farce out there.
Still, despite all of this, the game has sold extremely well and received a fair amount of praise for what it has delivered. Remembering that it still, as Mister Titov indicated, remains in a developing stage, it seems we shall (un)live to hunt brains another day.