Outrage Over “Foundation” Release Features & Promises
UPDATE: It appears Valve have been listening to the outcry from its community, as The War Z has been temporarily pulled from sale. In an statement issued to Polygon, vice president of marketing Doug Lombardi apologised for the situation, stating "mistakes can be made," and that Valve have "temporarily removed the sale offering of the title until we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build," although anyone who has already bought the game can still play it via Steam if they wish to.
ORIGINAL STORY: Nothing like a bit of controversy to end the year with, eh? The War Z, the persistent online zombie survival FPS that emerged shortly after the initial success of DayZ, is currently facing a wave of consumer wrath after its launch on Steam earlier this week. A misleading product description prompted calls from gamers of being falsely sold an incomplete game and, in some cases, out-right fraud and with the past few days seeing responses from all sides of the issue, the latest chapter in the saga has seen the product description being changed to better reflect the current state of the game and a rather bizarre interview with the Executive Producer.
While there has been rumblings about the quality of the alpha / beta versions of War Z for some time, this week’s release on Steam for the so-called “Foundation Release” caught the media’s eye when Reddit users called out the inaccuracies on the product description page, including the publicising of multiple game areas when only one is currently playable, how there are numerous skills yet none are currently usable, and how servers could take “up to 100 players” when a cap of 50 is currently set in-game. While this product listing has since been amended to better reflect the games’ current state, buyer’s remorse has stuck many a poster on the Steam forums in an outcry for refunds, leading to allegations of censorship by forums mods. Valve’s Al Farnsworth has since responded by saying the company “are investigating the issue,” although he does admit that moderation has become a difficult task for the War Z forum due to the high level of traffic. There are reports of Valve wilfully giving users refunds – a rarity on Steam, and a suggestion that the situation could be far worse than they thought.
Of course, the developers at Hamerpoint Interactive have not taken the allegations lying down, responding to both the community outcry and the wording of the game features on the Steam Store. Executive Producer Sergey Titov initially responded on the War Z forums apologising to the players who “misread information about game features,” something which could have been excused as a case of poor translation, but has exacerbated the situation by suggesting the community was in the wrong for not paying attention. This is a feeling that would later be reinforced thanks to a rather damning interview with Gamespy, where Titov accused customers of “[imagining] something to themselves without checking the details first.” The interview also sees Titov argue with the notion that “up to 100 players” covers the fact there is a cap of 50, but the most interesting portion of the interview talks about the definition of the rather vague “Foundation Release,” stating that the game as it is can be considered a full release, but that because it is an online title it would never be truly finished.
“This is what we call it. There's no such thing as "Release" for an online game. More important - you can't just add "foundation release" or any other words to the title of the game on Steam. It's like -- The War Z is a title of the game. We can of course add VERSION in ABOUT GAME section....”
….there's no such thing as "fully released" for online game. As far as I'm concerned The War Z is in stage when we're ready to stop call it Beta. This is basic version - bones that we're going to add more and more "meat" - features and content in a coming months and hopefully years.”
Early reports on the game itself have been less than favourable, and while we here at Dealspwn cannot give an honest opinion on the current state of the game, we strongly urge our readership to approach the game with a strong sense of caution at this stage.