The War Z’s launch has been, well, a PR nightmare

The War Z is out! Right now! You can go and buy Hammerpoint Interactive’s MMO zombie survival shooter on Steam. Many people have clearly done just that because the game is sitting right at the top of Steam’s sales charts. DayZ (whoops!) The War Z hasn’t exactly had the smoothest of launches however, and that’s largely down to advertised features missing from the actual game.

Whether it can be attributed to, umm, over-zealous marketing or just blatant lies, the game’s description on its Steam page talks about features that aren’t actually in the game at all. Claims like The War Z being “an open world,” and that each world has “areas between 100 to 400 square kilometres” are not true. In reality, the game features a single map that’s around 72 square kilometres big.

You’re also supposed to be able to unlock character skills by spending earned XP, only there are no skills to actually unlock in the game at all. The advertised “Hardcore” mode doesn’t exist and neither do private servers, both of which were advertised.

Naturally, the Internet went apeshit, with Reddit leading the pitchfork-brandishing mobs. The unrest soon expanded to the game’s official forums and Steam forums, where accusations of censorship and account banning began to appear – this is something that Valve is now investigating.

You’d think that Hammerpoint would scramble to fix up this PR nightmare, but what they actually did was say that people misread the description.

According to Sergey Titov, the game’s executive producer, the game features described on the Steam page were “presented in a way that could have allowed for multiple interpretations.” Speaking to GameSpy, Titov then said regarding the accusations of misinformation: “I’m sure there’ll be people who will look into small details and will say, ‘no I was misled,’ where in fact they imagined something to themselves without checking details first. I’m sure that Steam have its refund policies that should handle those situations.”

Click to enlargefy; this shows the advertised features and what the game actually includes (in red). Via Reddit.

So yes, all this uproar isn’t Hammerpoint’s fault, it’s YOUR fault for imagining game features – even though the “imagined” features were actually put down in writing on the Steam page by the game’s developers. Fortunately they seem to have realised what utter morons they’ve been, and they’ve re-worded the game’s features.

But wait, there’s more controversy! Kotaku has pointed out that an update to the game has now added microtransactions. Don’t forget that this is a game that you have to pay for in order to play. Adding microtransactions via an update is a little shady. What are the microtransactions for? Well, in the game you get five character slots. When you die, your character stays dead for four hours before a respawn is allowed (prior to the patch, that wait was one hour). That’s four REAL-LIFE hours, not some sped-up, in-game four hours. In order to get around the four-hour wait, you can pay to respawn early. An early respawn costs 50 Gold Coins (the in-game currency), which works out to about R3.20. Gold Coins are rather scarce in the game, so Hammerpoint is (of course) providing players with the option to spend real money on bundles of coins. And if all five of your characters peg because you suck or you’ve been murdered by other players? Well then you’ll have four hours to kill, or you’ll need to pay to continue playing the game that you’ve already paid for.

Sources: Kotaku, Eurogamer, Rock, Paper, Shotgun