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Steam users enraged over Intel-exclusive content in game, inspiring quick reversal

Arizona Sunshine the latest cautionary tale about exclusivity in VR

The developers of Arizona Sunshine have not had a great day, and it was due to fan anger over previously undisclosed Intel i7-exclusive content in the game.

The controversy over two pieces of content in the game began with a post on the game’s Steam page, asking why one machine the player owned could play the horde mode in single-player and the other could not.

The developer responded to explain that two aspects of the game, the single-player Horde setting and Apocalyptic Mode, which is the game’s highest difficulty, were locked to machines running Intel’s i7 chip until March of next year.

“Working with Intel allowed us to create even more content than we originally planned, including these modes and the physics systems in the game, making Arizona Sunshine one of the richest VR experiences possible,” Vertigo Games wrote. “We want to give 5th, 6th and 7th gen Intel Core i7 owners first glimpse into these additional modes, but they’ll be available March 6, 2017 to everyone who owns the game.”

The fans revolted, with many demanding refunds and some replying with disgust at the previously unannounced exclusivity of seemingly large portions of the game.

“Thanks for responding, but why wasn't this information released prior to launch?” one of the tamer responses asked. “I would have not purchased the game in its current state if I knew about this artificial timed limitation. I have no recourse now that I'm past the two-hour limit for Steam refunds. This is absolutely ridiculous.”

Vertigo Games has since made an official statement on the matter. “It’s clear from your feedback many of you are not happy with the previously undisclosed modes being available only on certain higher end PCs,” they wrote on Steam. “You are most important to us, and we hear your comments. We are unlocking these modes immediately to all players, and we hope you enjoy them.” The patch has already been released to the public.

So what the hell happened here?

It was meant to be a bonus, but that went wrong

“It was an interesting night,” Vertigo Games’ Richard Stitselaar told Polygon during a phone call this morning.

“Initially the development of the game was like the co-op, multiplayer, single-player and Horde mode, multiplayer,” he continued. “That was sort of our intentions for Arizona Sunshine. When we signed a deal with Intel we asked what can we do with the i7 CPU and do the extra stuff. Two things came out of that, the Apocalyptic Mode and the single-player Horde mode. Those two elements were always meant as a bonus feature, it was never meant to be part of the deal we were presenting, you can’t even find it on any of the marketing or promotional pages we pushed out.”

arizona sunshine Vertigo Games

The game would even call this out during the first configuration screen: it would call out if you had an i7 and make it clear you would be getting some bonus content.

“It’s even like presented as a golden cartridge, like the original Zelda on the NES, that’s in the menu if you have the i7, but now it’s for everyone of course, but that was the intention,” Stitselaar said.

The CPU company would help promote the game and gave the developer “staff help” during the development process to make sure they were taking advantage of everything the i7 chip could do. So the Intel partnership was promotional?

“Primarily, yes,” Vertigo Games’ John Coleman responded. I had to boil it down to a yes or no question to get to the heart of the matter: Did Intel provide funding for Arizona Sunshine?

There was a long pause on the other end of the line.

“Yes, there was funding related to the game,” Coleman said. “That was part of the whole process for us to be able to make this game, as well as their staff time.”

Once the decision was made to release the the two game modes to everyone, Vertigo Games called Intel and let them know it was happening. “That was really it,” Coleman said.

And now it’s really up to the community to decide how much this should matter, if at all. The funding means that the game was created and, according to the developers, the game was able to increase in scope because of it.

The game continues to receive some negative reviews on Steam due to this situation, although the comments on those reviews are often negative themselves; some players seem to think that since the issue was resolved so quickly, the negative reviews should be updated as well. Others see this as a way to send a message to other developers.

The Steam reviews are kind of a mess right now
Steam via Polygon

As of this writing, the game is listed as having “mostly positive” reviews on Steam, with 393 reviews posted in total. It’s listed as one of the top-selling games on the Oculus store. It’s currently the 9th best-selling game on Steam.