Hammerpoint Interactive's zombie survival MMO The War Z is now live on Steam in its alpha build, and executive producer Sergey Titov has gone up against the game's negative criticism, claiming there is "no such thing as a 'release'" for online games and acknowledging that the title has gone live unfinished.
The discussion board is full of claims that Hammerpoint is advertising certain key features that are not in the game. One user posted screenshots of what the The War Z's store page looked like this morning and this afternoon, noting several difference. The size of the in-game area was changed from being listed as "between 100 to 400 square kilometers" to "over 100 sq. km in size." Information on dedicated public and private servers and the ability to play the full game without microtransactions was also removed, along with a list of upcoming features.
This morning, Reddit user "IAmFluffey" posted a thread declaring that a game patch released last night by Hammerpoint Interactive increased the respawn timer from one to four hours, with players able to revive instantly only through spending real money. Hammerpoint also now requires all players to sign their Terms of Service contract to play, which explicitly denies all refunds. The user was banned from the Steam page's forums shortly after posting news of the patch.
Executive producer Sergey Titov took to the game's forums to assure players that Hammerpoint's goal is to "serve [their] players as best as we can," and that steps have been taken to "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."
In an interview this morning with GameSpy, Titov stated that the features originally listed on the Steam page were planned for release late this year or early next, acknowledged that some are not in the game's current build. Titov called negative commenters a "small percentage of people who actually bought the game," insinuating much of this feedback is from people who haven't played The War Z.
On the subject of world areas,Titov defended the wording on the Steam page, saying that "over 100 sq km" falls in line with the "100 to 400" square kilometer area promise.
"Online games are [a] living breathing games service," he said. "This is not a boxed product that you buy one time. It's evolving product that will have more and more features and content coming it. This is what The War Z is."
Titov also said Hammerpoint has been issuing refunds to players who ask for them depending on their play time.
"If we went and see that he played like 20 minutes, we've refunded him," he said. "Yet if somebody have played like five-ten hours and decided he doesn't like game — we clearly didn't provided refunds to them. In [the] case of Steam i it's up to Steam to decide if they provide or not refunds. I mean — we do not have access to that part of the Steam ecosystem."
When asked why the Steam page doesn't clarify the game is still in its alpha build, Titov responded that he thinks online games do not receive traditional releases. He does not feel The War Z is "fully released," adding that Hammerpoint will say the game is in beta when they think it's ready.
"What's difference ?" he said."This is The War Z game. It's not like there'll be 'final release' or anything like this.
"There's no such thing as 'Release' for an online game," he added.
Polygon has reached out to Hammerpoint Interactive for comment and will update this story for more information as we have it.
Update: The War Z is no longer available to purchase on Steam, and Valve has apologized for "prematurely" issuing the game a spot on the Steam store.