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Article Examines Population Zero's Botched Early Access and the Mistakes It Made

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Poorna Shankar Updated: Posted:
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A new article sheds some light on Population Zero, its launch, and what Early Access hype does to games.

The story, published by GamesIndustry.biz, looks at some of the history behind Population Zero in addition to its botched launch. The story starts off on a very somber note,

“We are yet to see if our game dies or makes it through a very rough launch, and that's why we want this article to be a digital diary of what's happening to us.”

As a recap, the game made a business model switch from P2P to more premium model.

Additionally, the story looks back at how the pricing of the founder’s pack didn’t do much to support the studio. The game also appeared to have changed directions during development. While early impressions were good, the studio thinks it made them too cocky.

However, the story then discusses the mistakes which were made, chief among which were multiple DLC on Steam. Miscommunication misled players into thinking that the $80 packs they purchased previously were now $10 on Steam, thinking they got ripped off.

As the team notes,

“First, we named the Steam packages the same as they were named when we were selling them to our founders. Second, we didn't elaborate on the fact that many features from the founders pack were missing from the Steam packages, including alpha/beta access to the game -- two years of testing and sharing and building the game -- the founder's name in the credits, two beta keys to share with friends, and some other features.”

Despite apologizing, it was too late. Negative reviews started pouring. The second mistake identified by the team was marketing, specifically prior to Early Access. They cite an aggressive marketing campaign highlighting an “A+ impression,” leading people to forget that the game was in fact Early Access and not complete.

Additionally, the third mistake turned out to be missing MMO features. This includes lack of a friend system, with many of the reviews seemingly about the lack of this feature. To that end, the team has removed the co-op tag on Steam. The team also looks at the future,

“Population Zero currently has a small but very active fanbase. Concurrent users are low, but it doesn't really matter right now as we made the game to be a single-player experience if you wish it to be. We have been open and communicative with our fans, having recently published a public roadmap via Trello that we'll be using to keep track of new and upcoming improvements to the game.”


Poorna Shankar

A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.