Sony Offers Refunds To Fans Angry About Zombie Game Microtransactions

Sony Offers Refunds To Fans Angry About Zombie Game Microtransactions

SOE’s DayZ-ish zombie MMO, H1Z1, just launched on Steam Early Access. That means it is, on no uncertain terms, unfinished. However, even fans with that knowledge were surprised to discover a microtransaction airdrop that affects gameplay. They felt like they’d been misled.

The real money microtransaction, an airdrop players can buy and call in, has many players upset and worried. In a survival wasteland where resources — discarded scraps, precious bullets, makeshift weapons — are everything, there’s a lot to be said for magical rain from the zombie-free heavens that can sometimes contain guns, ammo, and other equipment. At this point, very few of those words are positive. SOE is offering full, no-questions-asked refunds through Steam to make up for the fact that many players feel this is not what they signed up for.

Back when H1Z1 was first announced, SOE agreed that gameplay-changing microtransactions had no place in this sort of game. In a Reddit post explaining monetisation plans to players eight months ago, SOE president John Smedley was adamant that H1Z1 would only reward the Richie Riches of the world with appearance options:

“We will NOT be selling Guns, Ammo, Food, Water… i.e. That’s kind of the whole game and it would suck in our opinion if we did that.”

In fairness, things do change over the course of a game’s development. They tend to change a lot. However, the “no buying guns ‘n’ stuff” refrain was repeated elsewhere in the lead up to release, most recently during an official stream, er, a few days ago.

Players, understandably, went ballistic when they saw streamers calling in airdrops a few short days later. In their eyes, it was basically the same thing as purchasing weapons and gear from a store, even if the process was more randomised and open to sabotage by other players.

SOE’s Smedley, however, believes players were given adequate warning, that they weren’t lured into purchasing H1Z1 under false pretences. He once again took to Reddit to offer up his side of the story:

“I’m going to weigh in here on this subject. We’ve been showing it clearly in all of the streams we have been doing. I made a point of personally doing it during last Friday’s streams. We want them to be server events… so we make sure the whole server knows they’re coming and I’ve personally been killed many times after I paid for them myself. So I fundamentally disagree with the argument. In terms of us not being honest about it — untrue to an extreme.”

And in fairness, airdrops were floated around as an idea months ago, to mixed responses. They also appeared in videos like this one, released in August of last year.

The bigger issue appears to be that SOE wasn’t entirely clear on the feature’s real money component. Concise, straightforward explanation is tough to find outside H1Z1‘s “What You Can Expect from Early Access” page, which was published yesterday.

Smedley also noted that airdrops aren’t even an option until a server is at least one-fourth full, and their crisp, gunmetal-accented flavour brings the slavering undead your way in droves. Moreover, the plane moves slowly and loudly, so as to attract other players. In other words, if you want your reward, you’ve got to take a mighty big risk.

However, Smedley and co understand that their vision of a perfect paradise where paying players and non-paying players frolic through the zombie gardens together still needs some work. Here are their plans for the immediate future:

“We’re going to be making some big changes to [airdrops] in the next day or so. 1) Dramatically widening the radius they come in — it’s too small from what we’re observing. 2) Making sure the chance for guns is a much lower chance so they are much more rare. 3) Upping the minimum number of people on a server to even allow air drops. It’s set at 50 right now and we’re going to at least double it. We are serious about these being server events and contested. 4) Making the plane fly even slower.”

So significant changes are on the way, though some players are still fuming. On the upside, at least they can get a refund, as can players miffed by shaky servers and other launch issues. A word of warning, though: the refund offer is only good until Monday, so act fast.

It will be interesting to see where SOE takes this feature after the initial eruption of outrage. It’s not exactly an auspicious start to a multiplayer sandbox’s life (or un-life, as it were), but Early Access exists so developers can work out kinks before primetime. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. We’ll see.


  • It sounds like they’re painting themselves into a corner. Their justifications for it being not-technically-pay-to-win are also reasons why they shouldn’t be charging money for it (or at least should be reducing the price). I mean the harder it is to actually retrieve the item you’ve paid for the more it becomes a rip-off to anyone buying. Pay $1 and get to call in a supply drop that you might get some items, but odds are it’ll result in your death and the items going to the person who killed you. I don’t think they’ll ever be able to get it right.

    • It sounds like it’d be a pretty cool feature if it was something the server population could work to trigger, rather than someone coughing up cash.

      • Yeah. They keep calling it a server event which is a cool idea, but it makes it sound like it’s just paying to spawn something that would normally be rare RNG. I can’t help but feel ultimately it’s just paying money for someone like me who is really good at rare spawn camping and flag capping to swoop in and get it.

        • It’s a pretty lazy Rust rip off, really. They’re free in that at least, as they are a regular occurrence. Usually every 24 in game hours.

    • I vaguely recall reading somewhere that you can get them via some in-game system too, not just mircrotransactions…for what it’s worth.

  • I came across this highlighted on Steam last night, the positive reviews especially are hilarious.

    In essence it’s almost like seeing the whole WarZ fiasco all over again.

  • I think it sucks but this is nowhere near being a big deal. Why people who have no experience in development cannot see the plethora of anecdotal assumptions they make on it is beyond me. I mean, once you get to stupid assumption #1000 that never gets proven, wouldn’t you take the hint?

    You don’t need experience in development to comment on a game but it makes sense to actually know something for sure, right?

  • So, you can pay-to-win, but possibly not get the thing you paid for?
    ….Yeah, That’s shit no matter how you rephrase it. Whether you are okay with pay-to-win or not, if you pay for a micro transaction, after buying the game, and another player can TAKE that from you. Well why call anything in? Just wait for other players to do it and grief them.

  • If they were really smart they’d have an early access (unfinished) trailer to the pre-alpha.

    Then tell people “Hey, we showed you what was in the game in the early access trailer.”

    Stop complaining!

  • When they describe it as P2W (Pay to Win) in their tweets about refunds you just know they are hoping a bunch of noobs turn up and blow through some cash desperately trying to buy some drops.

    I don’t like Microtransactions, in some games I can understand them, most of these games don’t cost money and the Microtransactions pay the developers. In full price games I find them utterly abhorrent. I find it harder to pay the $20 for this game knowing that they put microtransactions in it. I realise development costs are increasing and the pressure to make money is intensifying I just don’t like the “Pay some now and keep paying Microtransactions” method.

    I come from the original era of Microtransaction games when almost every game on the planet was a Microtransaction. I am of course talking about Arcades Machines, but once you purchased a game for your home console it was done no more to pay.

  • Wow, I didn’t know there was a The War Z recreation society! And almost 3 years to the week, too!

  • It will be releasing as F2P, if you honestly didn’t expect stuff like this you are kidding yourself

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