H1Z1 had a rough debut on Steam Early Access. SOE's sandbox zombie survival game is currently sitting on a 6/10, according to Steam's user review system, with 47 per cent of reports citing a negative experience with the game. To add to the publisher's troubles, the undisclosed ability for players to purchase gear "airdrops" was met with some unhappiness and forced a detailed apology from the title's senior designer.
A post by SOE's Adam Clegg on Reddit attempts to explain the source of the misunderstanding as well as outline upcoming changes to the controversial "airdrop" system. According to Clegg, his statement about microtransactions was "said without completely thinking" and that he had "disregarded the possibility of airdrops" when questioned on the topic.
Despite his mistake, Clegg understands how "what [he] said was at the time lying":
But please understand that's not what I was trying to do. For those of you that don't know me or understand me, know that I'm not trying to be this monster that is conniving and lying in hopes that you get tricked into buying the game. I am very passionate about making video games and I want more than anything in the world for people to love the games that I am a part of making.
It's silly to think anyone was being evil here (in Clegg's position, I wouldn't have paid much attention to anyone suggesting otherwise) and from the sounds of it, is a simple case of Hanlon's razor. It remains a major oversight by SOE however to not be clear about how microtransactions worked, given the ruthless audience most post-apocalyptic zombie games cater to.
The issue has sparked some changes to the system, which Clegg detailed in the post:
We are going to be tuning them throughout early access until we can get them to work that way, here are the first pass initial changes.
1) Make the plane move slowly (53% of current) This increases the ability for other players to react to the plane coming in. 2) Make the drop fall more slowly (80% of current) This increases the ability for other players to react to the plane coming in. 3) Less accurate maximum drop radius (was 250m now 700m, so with these settings it would drop up to 700m from the calling player) 4) New minimum distance of 250m for airdrops to appear from a player. This is a little less than ½ the player density of 700m distance with 120 players on a server. Therefore more players are likely to be near the airdrop when deployed. 5) Increase the minimum number of required players to 120 (a little higher after more discussion about player density being important to keeping airdrops contested)
It remains to be seen if H1Z1 will recover from this initial spurt of bitterness; heck, who knows what bad publicity does for games these days?