The War Z Mess: Every Crazy Detail We Know So Far

This week's wildest story is the story of The War Z, a new Steam game that has caused a great deal of controversy for numerous reasons.

Update: The War Z has today been pulled off Steam.

Fans have come out criticising the zombie survival game for misleading advertising, suspicious microtransactions and forum censorship. Meanwhile, The War Z's developers have defended themselves, telling us that "93 per cent of [their] customers like the game".

It's a bizarre mess that we've been following closely and will continue to follow as this week goes on. Here's everything we know so about The War Z so far.

Controversy led the developers to change the game's Steam description.

Following yesterday's controversy — during which a giant thread on Reddit alleged that The War Z's Steam description was full of lies — the people at The War Z developer Hammerpoint Interactive have changed the game's Steam description to be more accurate. Hammerpoint no longer claims that the game has player skills, maps sized up to 400km or private servers. (Private servers, the description now says, will be available "soon".)

Hammerpoint boss Sergey Titov also issued something of an apology to fans, saying that he was sorry they misread the description.

War Z looks a hell of a lot like Day Z.

The comparisons are impossible to avoid: from the name to the subject matter, it's easy to see The War Z as a ripoff that sets out to cash in on Day Z's popularity. But while Day Z, a massively successful zombie survival mod for Arma II, is completely free, War Z costs $US15 on Steam — and thanks to some newly installed microtransactions, it could cost you even more.

In an email to me, Titov addressed this controversy. (Spelling and grammar have not been altered.)

"As soon as we've announced game –- we've received our share of hate from some of the DayZ fans accusing us of just ripping off DayZ concept to make a quick money," Titov wrote. "While over time, especially after game have been launched publicly players been able to see that those two designs are pretty different, there're still DayZ fanboys out there who just can't accept fact that similar concept doesn't mean being copycat... Interesting fact – only around 30% of our player base we have right now actually played DayZ. And 15% of our players never heard of DayZ before they started playing The War Z. This confirms that we've been able to attract new players to the survival/zombie war genre of the game."

Lots of people have been banned from War Z, both during the beta and the current release.

"Not too long ago, Hammerpoint banned roughly 3000 players, without providing any proof whatsoever, and blatantly lying about their anti-cheat system being flawless," one Kotaku reader told me in an email yesterday. "Today, they went back on their word, saying that a small amount of the bans were not legit, but still leaving a ton of people [banned], and almost 96 hours in queue from their support without any answers at all."

Several other War Z players have also emailed me over the past few days to complain about bans. A different player said he was banned a few days ago, then unbanned last night along with hundreds of others. "I've never hacked, or purposely used exploits that were in the game," he said. "They unbanned hundreds of players three days after the fact without saying a word between the events. They have been lying to the public non-stop."

Titov also addressed this during our conversation, telling me via e-mail that he thinks a lot of War Z players are lying. (Again, spelling/grammar are unaltered.)

"We also are pretty aggressive banning people who use cheats and hacks in a game," Titov wrote. "Those guys normally have paid $10-20 to purchase hacks that offered them'no hack detection guarantee' – naturally they're being extremely pissed off when we've detected their hacking activities and banned their accounts. Those guys are very active in spreading false information and lies about game."

You're not allowed to make posts on War Z's Steam message board about why you quit.

The rules, as laid out by a moderator who goes by the handle Kewk, are a little intense:

Some crafty players have found ways to circumvent this.

Check out this message, screencapped by a NeoGAFfer.

(Stumped? Try reading it vertically.)

A Valve moderator is investigating claims that people have been wrongly banned from The War Z's message board.

As the moderator writes:

Several users have raised concerns about censorship or other posters being banned unfairly. We take these complaints seriously and are investigating the issue.

If you have specific examples of what you feel was unfair or incorrect moderation on this forum, please post them in this thread (or on my profile) and we'll have a look. There has been a lot of traffic in this forum — a new topic every minute for the last day and a half, with thousands of replies. All that makes moderation a very difficult task.

Thousands of people are signing petitions to protest The War Z.

Some of them want full refunds for the game.

Others demand that Valve take the game off Steam.

(I've reached out to Valve to ask if they plan on doing anything about The War Z, and will update should they respond.)

The man behind The War Z helped make one of the worst games of all time.

It's called Big Rigs, and it was immortalised by GameSpot's Alex Navarro in this entertaining video review. Sergey Titov was the lead programmer on Big Rigs, according to a number of write-ups on the game.

Titov most recently worked on League of Legends at Riot Games, which makes it interesting that...

At one point, The War Z's terms of service linked to League of Legends.

Although the TOS has since been changed, several months ago, it linked out to League of Legends, which seems to imply that at one point, parts of War Z's terms of service were ripped from Riot's online game.

One Kotaku reader sent in this screengrab:

The Terms of Service come with one rather interesting line.

ONCE YOU AGREE TO THIS TERMS OF SERVICE AND THE END USER licence AGREEMENT FOR THE GAME (THE "EULA") AND SERVICE FOR THE GAME COMMENCES, YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ELIGIBLE FOR A REFUND FOR ANY AMOUNTS OR OTHER CONSIDERATION PAID BY YOU FOR THE USE (OR FUTURE USE) OF THE GAME CLIENT OR THE SERVICE.

Expect to see more and more strange things as time goes on.

The War Z mess has been rather crazy. Quite a few people seem to be unhappy with the game, and a number of readers have contacted us with strange details and stories about their experiences with it. We will of course continue to follow this story and keep you updated as more details come out about this strange situation.

Update: More craziness!

Here's a post on The War Z's forums from Titov asking people to vote for the game on Metacritic, where it currently has a user score of 1.5/10.

And here's an article from PCGamesN, who measured The War Z's first map, Colorado. On the Steam description for The War Z, the developers say that Colorado is 100 square kilometres. PCGamesN's Steve Hogarty determined that the map is actually... 9.7417 square kilometres.


Comments

    *shakes head* sorry but when there's such insurmountable evidence against your product and yourself, sometimes it's best to own up to the scam...

    HAHAHAHA Big Rigs I mean War Z has been pulled from steam.

    Oh boy.

    The DayZ Standalone can really take its time now, they don't have to rush to compete with them anymore.

    A quickly thrown together title made purely to cash in on the success of Day Z, ripping the games concepts, stealing artwork from others, and even naming it so it cashes in on peoples recollection of World War Z (Day Z + World War Z = The War Z!). And THEN they go and add last minute microtransactions in a patch, limiting how players play the game unless they pay up.

    These guys should work for Zynga!

    Last edited 20/12/12 9:20 am

      This reminds me the Hollywood Mockbusters that have been coming out recently to cash in on the success of other movies. This one; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1758570/ in particular is hilarious because it attempts to cash in on a movie that itself borrowed on and ruined a great story.

    i dont know what you mean at the just my thoughts on the game part

      The first letter of every first word spells out HELP ME ITS AWFUL
      "Just my thoughts on the game.. HELP ME ITS AWFUL"

    The bigger issue in my opinion needs to be looked at. Why was this allowed by valve to appear on their system? Valve in all of this needs to be held accountable for game that is nothing more than a cash grab and Valve (steam) itself is complicit in this. They need to be held accountable, something they have not done yet. They haven't removed this game from their service, just delayed it so that the money hungry developers can rip people off even more. The other game by the developer "Sergey Titov" is called "Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing" which has been described as the worst game ever.

    Don't forgot about how they've plagiarized off other peoples artwork!

    http://s16.postimage.org/atacxy4et/Zombies.jpg

    GIVE ME DAY Z STAND ALONE NOW PLEEEEEEEEEASE..... That is all.

      Early 2013 now. Rockets taking his time to make it quality... Something these wankers never tried...

    Interesting to see that since Titov asked people to rate the game on Metacritic, the average score has gone from 1.5 to 1.1 (as of typing).

    Saying that DayZ is a free mod for Arma II and comparing it to WarZ's $15 price tag is somewhat misleading.

    Arma II: Combined Operations will still set you back $30 on Steam when it's not for sale.

      Theres nothing misleading about it. Arma 2 is a fully fledged game. You can plah it. Love it. Dayz itself is free. Arma will cost you.

        It's misleading because it doesn't mention that Arma II still costs money to buy. It's all good and well downloading a free mod, but unless you also own Arma II, you can't play it.

          It very clearly states on the dayz website, arma 2 website as well, dayz information on steam etc that arma 2 is indeed required to play the free MOD of arma 2 : DAY Z. However. It does not claim that you can purchase dayz. Ever. It tells you clearly you need to purchase arma 2 first as it is a mod. A free mod of an existing game.

          You obviously like (or work on... Sergey is that you?) the war z. Which is a scam. The day z mod is not. You need to learn the difference.

            No, I understand where he's coming from. To say "DayZ is free" makes it sound like I can head over and grab it straight away for no cost, but it's actually going to set me back 30 bucks to buy Arma II first. If you want to compare the price tag of the games, it'd be fairer to say WarZ will cost you $15, DayZ is a mod for Arma 2, which is $30 on steam".

    Also, this game COULD have taken a slice of the DayZ pie if they'd played their cards right and not rushed an unfinished product out the door with an unfinished description along-side. Problem is, all this negative press has kind of doomed the product from the start. Once the ball starts rolling on something like this, it'll be difficult for them to turn it around.

      I think the problem (let's just ignore the rest of them) was that there is a Day Z standalone game coming that is actually by the Arma developers (I believe)

      They had to get theirs out before that is released to cash in otherwise people will stick with day Z over an imitator released afterwards

      I think you two have got your wires crossed... Kritter5x is your usual friendly 'PR-Guest-Representative' found on messageboards & comments sections on the entire interweb. As we say in Australia - Sticks Out Like Dogs Balls!

    Wow...and I thought Molyneux was bad.

      Nah, Molyneux is just an excitable chap who like his teas, and sometimes can be found, naked, in his garden at night telling wonderfull stories of adventure & heroic destiny, to an Pumpkin. As he holds up to the moon, and yells, "YOU HAVE NO PLACE IN MY GARDEN OF MAGICAL DELIGHTS." And that's how videogames are made.

    This is almost comedic.
    It's almost as if they knew it was going to be terrible, so instead of fixing the game, they got their legal team to fix the EULA.

    Oh well, here's the blueprint for how not to make a video game.

    Question is, worst game ever? *Feels a kotaku top 10 worst games ever is in order*

    "It is forbidden to steal someone else's work, and present it as your own"... I hope that they don't have any of their promo art on the forum then.

      I was thinking that too! lol!

      "forbidden to steal someone else's work, and present it as your own."

      *Cough* *cough* Day Z *cough*

      Ooh... Bit awkward... :S

    A few more things:
    1: If you die you have to wait 4 hours or pay REAL money to respawn again. Or you can erase your character and start again (Which means you lose your money you brought the game with, and brought ammo and stuff with)
    2: Stuff like ammo and stuff HAVE to be brought with REAL money
    3: The game is boring and VERY unfair.
    4: The game is a total ripoff! (I think this is already mentioned)

    Its rather unfortunate that dayz has such nasty animations, but to correct you dayz isn't technically free you do have to buy arma 2 operation arrowhead and have either arma 2 or arma 2 free installed on the computer. The war z had such a nasty launch I been looking at stuff recently it looks like they are trying to better it but making it worse by doing so like taking out the ability to jump through windows. The dayz standalone hopefully won't be horrid they have a promising game so far but arma 2.5 engine instead of the sleek and gorgeous arma 3 engine that DZS A3 is currently using seems silly...

    all they did wrong is get caught , all they are doing is doing what all the MAJOR games companies are doing, lying about a product for marketing. lies lies lies but they got caught unlike UBISOFT , BIOWARE etc. they need a better marketing team so they can lie about the game and then release a very bad game that is nothing like the marketing. just like UBISOFT did with watchdogs

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