I mentioned last week that I would come up with a write-up that discussed ways to better improve discourse online. I had planned for that, actually, but something came up. Specifically, The War Z came up on Steam. While its status as an MMO is debatable, the repercussions of that game's troubled existence are going to bring certain things I've discussed previously in other articles into close scrutiny.
There is a rather straightforward history for The War Z after it went up on Steam. Finding all the disparate threads of annoyance at the game and collating it here was going to be a bit time-consuming, but Chris of Game by Night and Jason Schreier of Kotaku have done pretty much all of the work for me with the info dumps they've done. Chris also appears to have existing experience with the game prior to release.
For those of you wondering about the game's status, you'll want to know that The War Z has been removed from Steam, according to a Kotaku report.
Valve even went as far as sending out a statement, saying,
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.
As I have no experience with the game, I don't feel I have any right to pass judgement on the gameplay of it. What I can do, however, is highlight some of the issues the game has with regard to how it presents itself and treats the people that want to support it. With regard to self-presentation, Hammerpoint Interactive has made it clear that it has not been forthcoming with regard to the disconnect between the game's merits and its reality.
That's a really odd reflection there...
Oone issue of self-presentation is that the game's status as an MMORPG is debatable with the maximum number of players on a server restricted to a hypothetical 100 (in reality, it seems it's currently capped at 50). The game, however, markets itself as the first zombie MMO. Furthermore, another issue of The War Z's presentation appears to be in scale, seeing as PCGamesN pegs the area of the game at approximately 10 square kilometers rather than the supposed 100.
Perhaps more notable is how the development team has been less than consumer savvy in their dealings with people.The running assumptions of either ignorance or incompetence in the face of public scrutiny seem to stand well here, as they've done everything from threatening consumers with blacklisting when they ask for a refund, to making snide references to consumer incompetence in the face of Hammerpoint's awesomeness, to supposedly altering aspects of the game to make people pay to remove inconveniences like respawn timers.
The Bottom Line
The War Z has left me feeling rather uncomfortable. Based on the number of reports, the variety of reportage on the matter, and the way Hammerpoint is responding to criticism, I wouldn't be able to stomach even trying the game.
AMC's The Walking Dead Promo Pics (outlying) and The War Z Banner (middle)
I doubt everyone hates The War Z, as Jeffrey Lerman on our sister site FPSGuru thinks. There might be some who genuinely enjoy the game. The problem is that the people who want to play it aren't treated with respect, courtesy, and proper attention. That's a shame for Hammerpoint, who may very well end up trumping other studios in terms of ill repute now.
Here's to hoping the wars waged against The War Z eventually die down, hopefully through smart changes and effective transparency.
Read more of Victor's Devil's Advocate thoughts about the hot issues of the day: