The War Z apologises to players who "misread" false Steam information [Update: no longer buyable on Steam]
UPDATE: The War Z is no longer purchaseable on its Steam page. Speaking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Valve Director of Marketing Doug Lombardi said the removal stemmed from "prematurely issuing a copy of War Z for sale via Steam." Further sales are on hold until Valve has time "to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build." Valve is also offering refunds by filing a support ticket. The game is still purchasable at $15, $25, and $50 tiers at thewarz.com, and playable through the game's proprietary launcher as well as any already-purchased Steam copy.
We'll be interviewing Hammerpoint Executive Producer Sergey Titov later today for additional answers. Our original story follows below.
From the outside it would seem as if things are going well for The War Z. Following it's "Foundation Release" and appearance on Steam this Monday, it's sat happily at the top of the store's Top Sellers list.
But dig deeper and the game appears to be generating no small amount of controversy. The forums, both on Steam and The War Z's website have been full of complaints and questions as to the accuracy of the game's claimed key features.
In its initial Steam listing (captured here by Steam user Shock4ndAwe), the game fails to make the distinction between currently included and upcoming features. It listed multiple worlds between "100 and 400 square kilometers," the ability to spend experience points on skills and the chance to host private servers.
None of these had yet been implemented, and The War Z's Steam page (captured here) has now been updated to reflect that private servers are an upcoming feature, and that only one game world is actually available. The "About the Game" blurb now reads, "our first map - 'Colorado' is over 100 sq. km in size." The section about spending experience points has simply been removed.
The War Z's executive producer Sergey Titov posted on the game's forum, apologising to people who had "misread" the information. "It was clear that there were a number of customers that felt that information about the game was presented in a way that could have allowed for multiple interpretations."
"We've taken steps to correct this and format information presented on our Steam Store page in a way so it provides more clear information about game features that are present in the Foundation Release and what to expect in the coming weeks."
"We also want to extend our apologies to all players who misread information about game features."
Even with the clarifications, much of the information on the current version of the listing is in dispute. According to players, not only are there no 100 player servers or "Hardcore" game mode, but it's also being claimed that while the map is technically over 100 sq. km, much of it is greyed out, with the actual playable area being around 72 sq. km.
Sergey has explained the discrepancies in an eye-opening interview with GameSpy. Basically, he started arguing semantics. "Max players -- I'm not sure why this is even an issue. [The] text clearly stated 'up to 100 players.' And 50 players [which] we have right now -- is what our players -- our community feels is comfortable level for them to play."
The reasoning behind the "between 100 and 400 square kilometres" claim is equally brazen. "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? Okay my point is -- 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."
With all of this going on, it would make make sense to potentially hold off an any potentially unpopular changes to the game itself. Instead, Kotaku are reporting that a recent patch has upped the character respawn time from 60 minutes to four hours, and added a new microtransaction to let you skip the wait completely for 50GC (around $0.40) per spawn.
While The War Z offers five character slots, giving plenty of scope for bypassing the wait by switching to a new survivor, the community has still reacted with anger to the move. The suggestion is that it's an unfair advantage for users prepared to pay, as they'll be able to jump straight back into their same character and continue to improve at a faster rate.
Due to the confusion and controversy that's surrounding the release, our zombie survival expert Evan will be providing his initial impressions later in the week.