The War Z developer Hammerpoint is in some pretty hot water. Boiling, in fact. Just today, their zombie MMO was pulled from Steam, following several days of user complaints over false advertising, unjustified banning, and other questionable practices.
Most of this started on reddit (as so many things do these days), where War Z players kicked off a massive thread calling out the game's inaccurate Steam product description. Following that, Hammerpoint tried changing the information to be more accurate.
For one thing, Hammerpoint never mentioned War Z was still early in development, not even out of beta. Further claims over included features were also incredibly exaggerated, listing features that Hammerpoint perhaps hoped to include but didn't actually implement yet. The original descriptions, for instance, stated:
- Each world "has areas between 100 to 400 square kilometers," when in reality War Z has just one map stretching 72 square kilometers.
- Hammerpoint boasted the option to create public or private servers, but the game actually didn't have the latter.
- Players could supposedly earn experience points to put toward "dozen (sic) of available skills," when there are in fact no skills found in War Z at the moment.
The "key features" certainly weren't much better. Out of the following bullet points, three are false. War Z, when it was still available, had no Hardcore mode at all, capped the player count per server at 50 (not 100), and offered no private servers to the community.
Let's play a game of "Spot the Discrepancies".
Hammerpoint has made some attempt to address community concern over all this, even if their attempts have been rather poor. Executive producer Sergey Titov made a post on the official War Z forums apologizing and pointing out that users probably "misread" the game's description.
As you all know we launched the game on Steam yesterday. Okay - we're number one top grossing game on Steam right now - thank you guys for your support.
At the same time 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 infromation about game features.
More frustrating is Titov's recent interview with GameSpy, during which the interviewer tried prying a little more information over the whole fiasco. Here's what the man said regarding some of the false claims made on the War Z Steam page:
Our Steam store description contained information about what game features [were] planned for 2012-early 2013 content updates. Some of the features have been in game for a while, so -- actually two major things -- server rentals and Skill Trees, didn't make [it] into the game yet. This being said we've realized that layout and presentation of this information needs to be changed on the Steam page, which we did today in the morning. After we did it, we [are] still enjoying being [the] Number One top-grossing game on Steam at the moment. So my point is, yes, I'm sure that few players maybe be upset, but I can assure you that based on what we're seeing number of people who post bad comments are [a] small percentage of people who actually bought [the] game.
When the interviewer points out that Hammerpoint advertised the many nonexistent features as currently available (instead of coming soon), Titov replied:
I'm sure there'll be people who will look into small details and will say "no I was mislead," where in fact they imagined something to themselves without checking details first. I'm sure that Steam have it's refund policies that should handle those situations.
The most recent development comes from Valve themselves. After the game was pulled from Steam, Valve began investigating claims against Hammerpoint of unfairly banning users for criticizing War Z. Ouch.
Valve's Al Farnsworth posted a message explaining, "We take these complaints seriously and are investigating the issue."
He has also called for the community's patience, noting that the forum has seen a ton of traffic, and its "thousands of replies" makes moderation a somewhat daunting task. In the meantime, he's noted that users can continue posting their complaints on Steam's War Z forums, so long as they remain on-topic.