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Old 12-19-2012, 09:15 PM   #1
Drunken Savior
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Forbes: Allegations Of False Advertising Hound 'The War Z' Release On Steam

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Originally Posted by http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/12/19/allegations-of-false-advertising-hound-the-war-z-release-on-steam/

Allegations Of False Advertising Hound 'The War Z' Release On Steam [Update: Valve Pulls Game From Steam]
Erik Kain, Contributor

When I first heard of The War Z I assumed it was a standalone sequel to the popular mod Day Z. I was wrong. The game is a new IP from Hammerpoint Interactive that appears to be little more than a rip-off of the Day Z mod (and sounded eerily familiar to the book World War Z and its upcoming film adaptation.)

The zombie genre has lots of games, of course, but the premise of the two games is simply far too similar to be a coincidence, though Hammerpoint claims the game went into development prior to Day Z’s sudden rise to fame and popularity.

Cash Grab

Since War Z went into beta, it’s been confronted with plenty of rounds of controversy.

A video producer at the website Just Press Start bought into the beta and was promptly banned the next day. There was no reason for the ban, and when he attempted to contact the company he was greeted with a cookie-cutter response—from a company that was not Hammerpoint but instead “Xsolla Support, a company known for payment transaction services.”

Apparently hundreds of other beta players were hit with the same ban at the same time and received the same cookie-cutter response, leading to outright revolt on the game’s official forums which apparently have no paid community manager.

Making matters worse, screenshots on the official game’s website were confirmed to be staged rather actual in-game footage.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, the entire project appears to be ripped from another game that War Z executive producer, Sergey Titov, was also involved with, War Inc.

Here’s a screenshot comparison that’s found its way online showing just how disturbingly similar the two games are:

Click to see more comparison screens of the two games. Obviously a great deal of War Inc was recycled for War Z.


Titov is the former managing technical director at Riot Games, the company behind League of Legends. He’s also the founder of Arktos Entertainment Group which acquired Hammerpoint in the very early days of War Z development, though no information about that acquisition or involvement in the game exists on the company’s website.

As is the case with stories such as these, things only get worse from here.

False Advertising

The game released on Steam earlier this week and quickly became the store’s best seller. But gamers quickly realized that something was wrong.

Now Hammerpoint is being accused of false advertising and defrauding customers; and while these allegations are often leveled at games for the pithiest of reasons, this appears to be a case where the complaints are well founded.

The original store page for the game on Steam listed a number of features that were not included in the game, including multiple maps of massive scale, ranging from 100 to 400 square kilometers. It listed servers with “up to 100 players.”

Here’s a screengrab, via GameSpy, of the original text:


It turns out that many of these promised features do not exist and are merely planned additions set for a vague future date.

There is only one map which measures 72 square kilometers [Titov disputes this number.] There are also no available skills, a feature Titov says are coming soon. And game servers were, at least originally, capped at 50 players rather than the promised 100.

The game, which beta players forked over as much as $25 for, was priced at $14.99 on Steam, and includes micro-transactions. You wouldn’t know this if you read the game’s description on its official website, however, which reads:

Forget subscriptions, forget paid DLC and expansion packs.

The War Z is as simple as this – once you install the game to your computer, you will be able to get into the game quickly and play without worrying about subscription fees, no hidden fees, and no paid updates. All updates will be seamlessly delivered to you free of charge when they’re released.

Add AAA graphics and effects mixed with the ability to run even on integrated video cards or low end laptops and you have a unique, fun, experience that is available to everyone.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is….

GameSpy’s Dan Stapleton chatted with the aforementioned Sergey Titov to ask him about allegations of false advertising, asking some very straightforward questions about the blatant falsehoods presented on the Steam page.

Titov beats around the bush mostly, claiming that “up to 100″ players can mean anything between zero and 100, and writing that “I’m sure there’ll be people who will look into small details and will say “no I was mislead,” where in fact they imagined something to themselves without checking details first.”

Titov also claims that the first map, which he says is over 100 square km, falls into the “100 to 400″ kilometer category, and that online games are always getting new content so the claim that there are multiple areas is not false, even though there is only one map available at this time.

Read the whole interview—it’s well worth your time.

Blame Somebody

In an apology Titov posted following the interview he continued to blame customers for misreading the Steam page rather than admitting and owning up to the misleading language and false promises.

War Z appears to be the congregation of all the worst aspects of gaming: players say it’s boring and isn’t the game that it was advertised as; the textures are low-quality and the graphics are largely ripped from another previously released game; and while you pay to purchase the game, it utilizes a freemium model of micro-transactions, including items that disappear when you die (never mind the inherent problems with applying this model to a survival horror game.)

Many people are criticizing Valve for what is obviously an unfinished product showing up in their store. The problem appears to be a simple one. Because the game’s publisher had a game on Steam previously, their new titles can skip the review process, giving The War Z a free pass through the back door.

Valve may need to reconsider this policy in light of War Z‘s numerous problems, especially since many gamers will certainly demand a refund.

As Titov points out, the refund process is going to fall on Valve’s lap, noting that “it’s up to Steam to decide if they provide or not refunds.”

More to come as this unfolds. I’ve reached out to Valve for comment.

Valve’s Doug Lombardi responded to my request for comment in an email, writing:

From time to time a mistake can be made and one was made by prematurely issuing a copy of War Z for sale via Steam. We apologize for this and have temporary removed the sale offering of the title until we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build. Those who purchase the game and wish to continue playing it via Steam may do so. Those who purchased the title via Steam and are unhappy with what they received may seek a refund by creating a ticket at our support site here: https://support.steampowered.com/newticket.php

Again, we apologize any inconvenience.
Seriously, as someone who bought this 'game.' Save your money. I've been following this game for awhile and it's going downhill. Why spend your money on an online game that's likely to lose support in the coming months? But if you HAVE to try....try to find a few 48 hour guest pass. They are abundant and there's even a Subreddit to ask for one. Trust me...even $15 is not worth this game. Buy a pizza instead, you'll enjoy it more.

As someone who thinks people who support kickstarters are asking to be robbed, I find it pretty dumb of me to buy this pre-order in the first place. Lesson learned, I guess.
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:12 AM   #2
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Thank goodness I'm a video game snob only willing to play AAA titles by established developers But yeah, it's very unfortunate to hear that. I can't help but feel that people only have themselves to blame though. It's like that kid in high school who wants to fit in or whatever, getting peer pressured and hyped into doing something because their 'friends' are doing it.. so that kid doesn't do his own research and ends up regretting it later.
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:07 AM   #3
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Remember when Brad Pitt was filming WWZ in my city. Was such a pain, traffic backed up everywhere, American street signs all over the place. Was crazy.
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:27 AM   #4
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Wow, they really were just looking to make a quick few bucks. Pretty dreadful story all around but I'm glad Valve stepped in. I'm not one of the type who blame Valve for putting it up since the game worked, it worked fine, but with how shady the studio's head sounds I bet Valve was lied to about the features, just like consumers were. The guy sounds like a con-man.

No plans on touching this game. Let's all just wait for the Day Z standalone, eh?
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