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How not to launch a video game, starring The War Z

How not to launch a video game, starring  The War Z
December 20, 2012 | By Mike Rose

Over the course of 48 hours, zombie survival game the War Z appeared on Steam for purchase, was brutally panned by critics and gamers, and rather quickly pulled down from the store by Valve -- a warning that, if you choose to mislead your players, it can come back to bite you on the ass.

The game launched earlier this week, described as a "survival horror MMO", in which players attempt to survive for as long as possible in a zombie-infested world, with other players occupying the same world online. The title is very similar to popular Arma II mod DayZ, which is currently in the midst of getting its own standalone release.

However, shortly after the launch, players began to notice that certain elements of the game's description were not strictly true. For example, there was no mention of the game being an alpha build, even though development studio Hammerpoint Interactive had said elsewhere that this was the case.

Meanwhile, the Steam page added that there were private servers available to play in, while up to 100 players could be in the same server at once. As it turned out, neither of these claims were true -- at least not for the available build.

Hammerpoint changed the game's description later in the day to fit the actual features of the game, but by then the damage was already done with players. Eventually the game was pulled, and Valve issued a statement to Kotaku, noting, "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."

Valve also says that those people who had already purchased the game are able to claim a refund if they choose to do so. Meanwhile, Hammerpoint's Sergey Titov says that his company is currently assessing the situation, in a bid "to have satisfied and not angry customers."

It's notable that Valve rarely steps in to remove recently published games from Steam -- a real sign of just how messy this entire situation is, not just for Valve and the War Z team, but also for Dean "Rocket" Hall, the creator behind DayZ. War Z is heavily inspired by Hall's game, and as you'd expect, he was watching yesterday's goings-on with a close eye.

"I've been pretty depressed about the whole situation," he noted on Reddit. "From a personal standpoint, this whole 'saga' of the development made me seriously question if I wanted to be involved in the industry and I gave serious thought to cutting my losses and not being involved in the [DayZ] project."

He added, "At my Army Discharge medical this week, they noted I now have high blood pressure. Some things in life just aren't worth worrying about."

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