VR shooter Arizona Sunshine has features locked behind timed CPU exclusivity [update: not any more]

Update: Following widespread condemnation of Arizona Sunshine's timed exclusive content, the studio has announced that it's rolling back the limitations. In other words, there's no longer any exclusivity at all.

Here's the full statement:

Thank you for all your feedback on the game. We developed the game to be as immersive and engaging as we could. While we love to hear about the things that delight you, we also take to heart the things that we can do better. It’s clear from your feedback many of you are not happy with the previously undisclosed modes being available only on certain higher end PCs. You are most important to us, and we hear your comments. We are unlocking these modes immediately to all players, and we hope you enjoy them.

We have recommended and still recommend using the Core i7 in order to maintain a constant 90FPS with advanced physics. We also realize that these chips cost money. We created bonus content that was not advertised as a reward for those of you who took us up on our recommendation.

We wanted you to feel it was worth it, but we also wanted everybody to be able to play these modes eventually. These surprise game modes were meant to be a reward for those players with high-end VR systems who were looking for the most immersive experience possible.

You are most important to us, and we hear and appreciate your comments. We are unlocking these modes to all players immediately via an automatic update, and we hope you enjoy them. 

Original story:

Arizona Sunshine is a newly released VR FPS set in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape riddled with zombies. It's currently sitting on a "Mostly Positive" rating on Steam, and based on a cursory glance at the community forums, the game has a decent enough following. 

But not all is well in this particular zombie apocalypse: some users are annoyed that two of the game's modes are exclusive to PCs running 5th, 6th and 7th generation Intel Core i7 CPUs. Both singleplayer Horde mode and the ultra-difficult Apocalyptic Mode are exclusive to i7 CPU owners until March 6 next year.

To the best of my knowledge – and to the best of several other PC Gamer scribes' knowledge – a game has never had content exclusivity based on hardware components before. The likes of Nvidia HairWorks improves cosmetic aspects, such as in The Witcher 3, but that's a far cry from locking off playable in-game content to incentivise purchasing a high-end CPU.

The thing is, it appears that no word was given in advance that this exclusivity existed, though there's plenty of videos promoting the benefits of an i7 when playing the game, such as this trailer and this behind-the-scenes dev video. 

Responding to a concerned user in the game's Steam forums, a Vertigo Games spokeperson explained the situation. "These are two game modes that we have not focused on previously," the statement said. "Working with Intel allowed us to create even more content than we originally planned, including these modes and the physics systems in the game, making Arizona Sunshine one of the richest VR experiences possible. 

"We want to give 5th, 6th and 7th gen Intel Core i7 owners first glimpse into these additional modes, but they’ll be available March 6, 2017 to everyone who owns the game."

It's an unprecedented move, which might have been more acceptable had prospective purchasers of the game known about it. I've sent an Intel rep an email, and will update the story if I hear back.

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.