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The WarZ: A Quest for Cash

The WarZ is a zombie survival MMO by developer Hammerpoint Interactive, and has been the subject of much controversy over the past few months. It all began as early as the initial announcement, it came during the peak of DayZ’s popularity only to be instantly met with the much expected DayZ Clone jokes. The developers insisted that the game had been in development for nearly 2 years, and would soon launch an Alpha for paying users.

It seemed a little too sketchy, just as DayZ was released and booming – this other developer just happens to be working on a game almost exactly the same for two years. It’s not an impossible coincidence, but with such a unique style of game it’s highly unlikely. That turned out to be the case, only six months prior to the launch of Alpha, Roman Stepanov (LinkedIn), posted on militaryphotos.net asking if members would play another game just like DayZ, because they were thinking of making one and had the resources.

This became concrete proof that The WarZ is a direct rip-off of DayZ and was developed after DayZ. It’s highly undisputable as well, considering that RomanS is a well-known member of the forums and has been for many years. The developers still deny it and seem to be bending the truth – they were making a zombie game for PS3, this much is true, but it’s not the same game and therefore makes this a white lie.

The next item to be flagged was when the Alpha finally launched, it was the Terms of Service for the game which was directly copied from League of Legends – even still including links to league of legends, as can be seen in the image above. This kind of act is not only stealing work from other developers, but is also illegal in many countries as you can’t just copy a legal document and use it like that. The developer was quick to fix it.

Players began asking a lot of questions, the game was built using the same engine as War Inc and even went as far as simply using all assets from the game – rather than creating their own. The game was essentially a quick port, they took the game, expanded the map, placed zombies and made minor game mechanic changes to produce what we now call The WarZ. It’s an obviously rushed job, as was pointed out in our Alpha Preview.

Re-hashing assets, that alone is enough to piss off gamers (read: Modern Warfare 3), but quickly putting together a game just because it’s the hot genre and stealing resources from others just because you are too lazy to do it yourself is going way too far. I would like to think that this was maybe a slip-up by some inexperienced devs, but it got worse as the developers got ballsy enough to actually steal DayZ’s reddit theme – see the image above.

It just couldn’t get any worse, it really couldn’t – until the game finally launched on steam. A while ago many were encouraged to order the game from the official site stating that the game would be more expensive on Steam, then developers went and released the game on steam for a price so rediculously cheap that many paid anywhere up to 55 dollars too much.

Then after all this, users noticed something about the steam page (above image), it listed a whole bunch of features which weren’t even available in the game yet – and displayed them as if they were current features. Many users who bought the game felt misled, and many more complained that it is false advertising, as well as fraudulant business practice.

Features listed but not currently in the game:

  • “A Huge Persistent World The War Z is an open world game. Each world has areas between 100 to 400 square kilometres”  - Currently there is only Colorado which barely makes the 100km2 mark, and even reported to only have a playable space of 75 square kilometres.
  • “Play with Friends: Hundreds of Servers to Play on and you can also rent and create Public or Private Servers allocating spots for Friends or Clans.” - There is currently no option to rent servers.
  • “No Classes, No Levels, No Caps: Create your own survival campaign, gain experience points and spend it to learn dozen of available skills” - There is no skill system in The War Z.
  • “Two modes of Play: Normal and Hardcore” - There is no hardcore mode currently available.
  • “Up to 100 Players per Game Server” - This was not true until the devs quickly patched in the support after Steam release.
  • “Dedicated Public Servers as well as Private Servers” - There are no private servers currently available.

Just looking at that list, six out of the total eleven bullet points on the steam page are incorrect and one misleading. There was more false information than correct, so it’s easy to see why a lot of customers felt mislead when they finally got to play the game. A lot of people have been playing as well, with The WarZ hitting Steam’s top seller list – although they were quick to update the info (above image).

Players began reporting to Valve and government departments that developer Hammerpoint Interactive was not only falsely advertising a product, but also fraudulently doing business. Hammerpoint Interactive updated the information on their steam page, however they didn’t apologize for the misleading information and instead chose to blame it on the community themselves. Sergey claims that users simply misread the information and imagined things before checking the facts.

Now according to him, the Steam page doesn’t have to tell you that these features aren’t even remotely available yet because you should be smart enough to do extra research and find that out for yourself before buying. You can read the post here, along with an interview with Gamespy where Sergey blatantly argues that it’s okay to be misleading and does some fancy acrobats around answering questions being asked.

The whole ordeal has been shady, and it’s getting harder and harder to believe anything Hammerpoint says – taking everything out of account, their inability to simply apologize and take the hit is enough for me. Whatever their opinion, the information was obviously misleading and instead of apologizing and simply fixing it and moving on they blame it on customers not doing the proper research. These are not just baseless claims either, even the screenshots displayed are completely staged and not actually possible in-game.

The screenshots you have seen throughout this article, as well as the ones displayed on the steam game page, are not actually representative of the game itself. They have been edited to add in extra lighting and graphical effects – like airbrushing a models photo – and feature scenarios not possible in the game, or places that don’t actually exist. The developers admitted these were staged too, but apparently it doesn’t matter to them.

The only thing that does seem to matter is getting your hard earned cash, and Hammerpoint have made many moves that would point towards that being the core objective. First was the devs asking players to pay for creating a clan and increasing member slots, this was met with huge protest and now the fee has been dropped although clans are still required to pay for extra member slots. This fee will be around 5-7USD per 20 extra member slots.

Secondly came the introduction of a new feature, early revival – when your character dies it is locked out of play for one hour, now you can spend real cash to skip this wait. Outside of the cash shop for a game which requires a purchase to play, this has pushed The War Z on the path to something all players feared, not pay-to-win, but pay-to-play.

Whether you believe that the developers are building The War Z as a quick cash-grab or not, it’s easy to see that the way they conduct business is at the very least, questionable and often shady. Taking all accusations aside, it’s still clear that the developers have lied to their customers on many occasions (read: steam prices), and have stolen resources from others without permission. I would ask every reader to thoroughly research and think heavily before giving this company money. If you do, don’t say we didn’t tell you!

I feel like this article needs to end on a light-hearted note, so I have decided to show you all something funny- enjoy:

This is what the developers created before The War Z – in 2007