Of Course You Know, This Means: War Z’s Back On Steam

By Nathan Grayson on February 28th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Oh boy, gaming’s favorite brain-dissolving apocalyptic disaster is back! And in the game, naturally. After a sojourn away from Steam due to excessively shady dealings and unforgivably poor quality, The War Z’s been re-listed on Valve’s ubiquitous storefront. So then, the natural question: what’s changed? Well, this probably warrants further investigation (yuck) inside the game, but for now, the answer appears to be “not a whole lot.” You will, however, notice the omission of some flat-out untrue promises from War Z’s last wibbly wobbly go-’round.

Previously, Valve declared Hammerpoint’s survival MMO “premature” and opted to “temporarily remove the sale offering of the title until we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build.” Flash forward to now: you’ll notice that the Steam page no longer touts between 100 and 400 kilometers of map space, 100 players per server, or other such questionable claims. Instead, it’s all, well, pretty purposefully vague.

PCGamesN, meanwhile, points out that patch notes don’t seem to indicate improvements in those areas, so odds are, it’s still roughly the same game – at least, in terms of scope. Whether or not the laundry list of abhorrent issues John uncovered – including obvious and very frequent cash grabs, very little to actually do, glitches, and a horrible respawn mechanic – has been cleaned up remains to be seen.

Obviously, you should approach this one with tremendous caution for now. Or perhaps don’t even approach it at all. It seems highly unlikely that Hammerpoint could stitch up so many gaping, pus-encrusted holes over the course of a couple months, so War Z probably still needs lots of work. Maybe play another game instead? Or go outside? Or see how many live fire ants you can stuff in your mouth before the resulting hospital bill is outside your budget? See? There are so many preferable options in this world.

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139 Comments »

  1. Stellar Duck says:

    And yet, actual great games have to go through fucking Greenlight.

    • GSGregory says:

      Maybe we could ask for red light to vote off games. lol.

    • olemars says:

      Even Dreamfall Chapters has to go through greenlight according to the latest update from Red Thread.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        God damn it.

        Sometimes I just loathe Valve.

        • cunningmunki says:

          That’s a low loathe threshold you have right there. Yes, Greenlight may seem like a dichotomy of principles sometimes, but surely it’s better than nothing? It doesn’t stop people developing games, it just helps them find a larger audience. Unfortunately, since a free-for-all approach would be a nightmare to manage, there is a process to follow, and that process sometimes means that bad games don’t need to be Greenlit and good games do.
          It’s Valve’s platform and it’s up to them how they manage it, but come on, it’s not like they don’t listen to their community or give them loads of great tools to develop their own stuff. They know it’s not perfect, but at least it’s SOMETHING. And it sure as hell beats trying to get a game through Apple, Microsoft or Sony.

      • Kitsunin says:

        What is UP with that? Like seriously, how could that, of all things, be finished, and not make it onto Steam? That would be straight up ridiculous, that isn’t the type of game that should need to prove itself.

        • Suits says:

          They are probably filing it under a different name, so they don’t even acknowledge the previous titles on there I guess

          • Baines says:

            It is presumably the different publisher/developer name.

            Dreamfall and Longest Journey are on Steam through Funcom.

            Dreamfall Chapters is Red Thread Games. Though it consists of the core developers, the name has no history, having been formed last year to make Dreamfall Chapters.

        • maximiZe says:

          It’s not like publishers/developers have to use Greenlight for certification. If they opt for that way though then yes, any game has to prove itself.

          • Llewyn says:

            Yes, it is. There is now no other way on to Steam for new self-publishing developers.

          • mouton says:

            It’s not like Dreamfall Chapters has any chance of failing, though. Greenlight is simply added publicity for them. “oh look we are so grassroots”.

    • Ajsman says:

      Well even Newell said Greenlight didn’t work as they have planed. With introduction of Greenlight they tried to stop Valve from bottlenecking the release of new games by giving the power of that decision to the users. Nice idea, but we can all see how that turned out…

      That is why Newell recently also said he would like for Steam to become just a bunch of servers where anyone can set up their own store. I guess you could look at it as Steam being a giant shopping mall with bunch of small shops in it. And having a store curated by people and game reviewers I trust sounds like a thing I wouldn’t mind using.

      • Bishop says:

        The danger there is that the new store fronts would change lots of money to developers for marketing. Steam at least give you a front page slot when the game is released regardless of your size.

      • YeOldeSnake says:

        I don’t think opening up the market to everyone is the solution for this. It might sound cruel, but Steam is widely known as a platform with mostly quality releases. Opening the platform to everyone will not only flood the market with 1-month college projects and sub-par games in general, but subsequently it will also make Steam a platform with less of a “discovery” value. (Which is a horrible way of saying that there would be too many games and it would be difficult to distinguish new and unknown games to one’s liking from the sub-par ones, due to the huge amount of available titles. Greenlight is a more recent example; not many people like going through a big list of 5000 titles to pick out what they would want to purchase, so everything turns into a popularity contest instead of a quality contest.) What i would suggest would be to have a dedicated team go through greenlight, not just the top-100, and decide which games are good enough to be on the service. That would also probably help avoid getting games like Surgeon Simulator on the service, games with little redeeming qualities that were voted by people just because their favourite youtubers said that they are fun for 30 minutes.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Dear God, that would be a disaster in the making.

    • Tacroy says:

      Thing is, even now The War Z has enough rabid fanboys to sail through Greenlight.

  2. BrianOConnell says:

    Next up for consistency is steam withdrawing Colonial Marines so as to “work with the developer and have confidence in a new build”?

  3. John Connor says:

    Fuck this scam and fuck anyone who defends it.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Its dirty, Valve are just profiteering here, they know it will sell even though its bad.

      • phlebas says:

        Would you really like Valve to go through the entire Steam catalogue removing games that are deemed by some standard ‘bad’? I don’t doubt this is a terrible game and nobody should buy it, but provided the information provided on the store page isn’t actually misleading and fraudulent I’d have thought the hands-off approach was far preferable.
        What that says about Greenlight is another question, of course.

        • Phantoon says:

          I’d like it if Dead Island were removed, yes.

        • Baines says:

          1) War Z didn’t going through Greenlight, did it? Steam already knew its developer, and offered War Inc as a free-to-play.

          2) Getting voted through Greenlight wasn’t supposed to be an automatic pass. You still had to pass the same Steam review process that you would have to pass before Greenlight. Greenlight just meant that Steam only reviewed games that had proven popular.

          3) Steam did pull War Z. Amidst much publicity, plenty of user complaints, plenty of allegations of shady business, and a fraudulent game description on Steam. Now the publicity has died out, and the game is for sale on Steam again, now with re-written description.

      • dmoe says:

        Oh god, this tinfoil hat is on too tight.

  4. RedViv says:

    I’ll just stick to pronouncing it WarTsed and leave it at that, thanks.

  5. SkittleDiddler says:

    Not only has Steam allowed this travesty of a game back into the library, the mods are now actively closing threads and deleting posts that criticize Valve for their part in the controversy.

    They just don’t give a shit anymore how their customers perceive them.

    • Fredrik Sellevold says:

      What, really? That’s … disappointing.

      And that goes for both Valve and the people who buy this thing.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        What’s really sad about it is that BurtonJ, a lead moderator highly respected by the community, is apparently heading the “clean-up crusade”. He’s certainly not wielding any of the restraint he normally shows. I have a feeling he’s been told by the higher-ups to exert some control over the situation.

        • Valvarexart says:

          What is there to criticize that should not warrant a thread lock/removal in your opinion?

          Valve had a contract, they suspended it because of issues with a fraudulent description, they bought it back! I really fail to see why Valve should act differently, even if they could (remember, they are bound by a contract).

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            If Valve draw up contracts which bind them even if the opposite party shamelessly seeks to deceive customers (or them) then they could do with a reassesment of those. I’m not a lawyer, so I am not at all aware of what their options are. But the least they could do is research what the other party is offering before getting into an agreement with them.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            “What is there to criticize that should not warrant a thread lock/removal in your opinion?”

            Valve’s vetting process, for one. It’s ridiculous that publishers who have had previous success selling their games on Steam are allowed to submit whatever they want without any kind of oversight on Valve’s part.

            Questions of profiteering, for another. Allowing such a universally maligned product back into the Steam Store reeks of greed, and posts questioning Valve’s motives in the War Z re-approval process have been deleted.

            It seems that BurtonJ is even making up Community guidelines as he goes along- http://steamcommunity.com/app/226700/discussions/0/828925849078277433/#c846946588496308228. Regardless of how you feel about Valve’s right to monitor and censor the Community Forums, making shit up on the fly is inappropriate behavior on their part.

            Regarding the contract issue: do we even have proof that there was a written agreement that laid down specific legal guidelines for what each side could and couldn’t do? Given Valve’s “Trusted Developer” policy, I wouldn’t be surprised if any contract agreed to between Valve and Hammerpoint consists of nothing but one line that states “Valve will sell game and run updates, Hammerpoint will provide keys and update packets as necessary”. Outside of basics like that, it’s pure speculation as to what the details actually consist of.

    • Prime says:

      Did they ever, apart from expressing shock/irritation whenever they’ve been criticised in the past? I miss the Valve who used to code games that people enjoyed because they loved coding games, not this corporate monster they’ve become, chasing after market shares in everything game related. It’s like watching George Lucas’ career-long decline into money obsession all over again. Very sad.

      • Alfius says:

        No, you’re right, companies should apologise for becoming successful and diversifying their operations.

        • YeOldeSnake says:

          But not at the expense of their fanbase’s freedom of speech, that’s just bad community management.

        • spedcor666 says:

          Why do some people seem to think that any kind of bad behaviour by a company can be justified on the grounds that they’re a business and they’re just trying to make a profit?

          Becoming successful and diversifying operations does not justify treating customers badly. If customers have an issue, whether it’s legitimate or not, just censoring any mention of it, is bad customer service.

          • The Random One says:

            That is correct. Everyone knows the only thing a company wants is to make a profit, but being nice to their costumers so that they’ll be more willing to spend money on their products is a perfectly fine way to go around doing it.

        • Shooop says:

          Censoring users when they ask why a previously removed scam is being advertised again is not a sign of being successful and diversifying. Not unless you’re running a country.

  6. Zarunil says:

    This tripe is currently placed at #17 at Steam’s top sellers list, above titles such as Bordlerlands 2 and XCOM.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      It’s probably down to confusion between Day Z and this. Pretty much everyone in my office thought they were the same game.

      • Teovald says:

        As someone that has heard of Day Z but has not played it yet. This news was indeed very confusing until I realized that the good zombie game is Day Z, not War Z…

    • jmexio says:

      True, but at least it is not listed in the new releases section of the homepage, and this time gap means when you enter the store page for the game you can clearly see its Metacritic score of 23 now.

      I mean, you can think what you want of scores, but seeing a 23 right there is hopefully a sign to at least investigate, right?

      • Teovald says:

        Average scores are shit because a small gem can get an average of 70 because it is a niche game, or it is a hard game to get into (I wonder what score Dwarf Fortress would get), or that the publisher is not rich enough to buy reviews.
        However, an average score of 23 means that according to all probabilities, this is shit.

      • ZephaniahGrey says:

        I actually avidly use, and like Metacritic. I’d still buy a game at 70 or over. In the US that’s a C, or “average”. Also, it could be a niche game as you said, so I usually go see what the various critics said about it. (a lot of people will rate in the 70s, and still say it’s a good game) Once it drops below that red flags go up for me. …though I still go look at the reviews, but mostly out of schadenfreude.

  7. Ansob says:

    It got taken off Steam for lying on its store page, essentially. Valve have no interest in policing the quality of games on Steam.

    Now that the store description no longer lies, it’s been allowed back on.

  8. choad100 says:

    Its really not that bad, Been playing it the last 2 weeks and having a lot of fun. Still waiting for DAYZ standalone as the mod is full of hackers and horrible lag at the moment. The laundry list of issues linked has almost been fixed (or at least it seems) Day night cycles are long 1 min in game time is 10 seconds our time, but not like being in Chernarus for an actual 12 hours. This game is very pvp focused which is what me and my friend have been having fun doing.

    • elderman says:

      Welcome to RPS choad100. The only defenders of WarZ on this site are first time posters who never show up again. Funny, that.

      Well, not that funny.

      • Valvarexart says:

        And 90% of the people criticizing it have not played it at all, while the remaining 10% haven’t played it recently after supposed patches. That’s also kind-of not hilarious at all if you ask me.

        • Chris D says:

          This isn’t just a bad game though. The developers have actively lied about what people were getting when they paid for it. They’ve more than exhausted any good will or benefit of the doubt they might otherwise have had.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            They also had their US Trademark suspended for being too similar to World War Z. I still wonder if they will ever change the name to something they can trademark.

        • maheusz says:

          @Valvarexart
          but then we have something like YouTube, right? And few Let’s Players already took it for a spin. So… yeah.

          • choad100 says:

            Hurr Durr, Circle jerk all up in here. Give it a try chaps and chappettes you might actually like it.

          • maheusz says:

            @choad100
            Well you see I’m not a fan of wasting money. So I usually research games I would like to buy. I did so with War Z, checking ongoing YouTube games, some people streaming it and of course various forum threads including RPS.

            So while I can’t see ‘only hackers’ in these few games there are other things concerning me. Lack of vehicles, pretty much starting with flashlight (unless you pay for a weapon), rather ugly graphics with a lot of glitches (according to my standards), obscene amount of zombies (clustered around vital locations) and lack of firearms needed for clearing them out.

            This makes the game no buy for me. Maybe somebody else will enjoy it, who knows?

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            @ choad100: No.

            Why would I try a game that looks like utter shit, is rife with petty micro-transactions that seem like blatant cash grabs, and that I’ve seen enough playthrough footage to know that I do not like it?

            Yeah, I should totally buy it just to confirm that I really, truly, absolutely don’t like it and that all of my criticisms from numerous observations are valid. That makes a fuck-ton of sense.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Hurr Durr, that would involve giving money to a company that have already acted deeply unethically, for a product that was – just a couple of months ago – heavily criticized for being a) crap and b) money grabbing. Doesn’t seem like a particularly brilliant course of action to me…

        • Shuck says:

          The quality of the gameplay is actually somewhat irrelevant in this case. That they were grossly misleading in the description of the game isn’t even their biggest sin, as far as I’m concerned. That they have a retail game in which you need real-money transaction items in order to respawn in a timely manner is completely appalling. That they also increased the respawn wait after the game was released is completely inexcusable. Treating a retail game that’s already on sale like the beta of a free-to-play game and altering game mechanics to try to extract more money from people who bought the game is so completely beyond the pale that these people don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt in any way. They’ve proven themselves and their game to be utter shits without having to (further) evaluate the mechanics of the game itself.

      • choad100 says:

        Here’s my second post and as someone has said below most of the people who trash talk the game have never played it so you cant pass judgement on it. I don’t like the Call of Duty series of games but you wont find me saying that CODBLOPS2 is trash, I have never played it but from what I hear its the same game as last years with more guns and new zombie modes. All the WarZ hate just seems like a giant reddit circle jerk to be honest. Play the game then form an opinion.

        • dE says:

          Shill Z: Shill harder.

        • Durkonkell says:

          Nope, because to play the game I would first have to buy it and that is never going to happen. The quality of the game is immaterial to my decision.

          This is the company that knowingly and wilfully mislead customers, refused to issue them refunds when caught and then threatened to place customers on a ‘global blacklist’ for fraudulent transactions when they attemped to obtain refunds through their providers. I won’t support that behaviour, no matter how decent the game may be. Neither should you.

        • Synesthesia says:

          ha! ha, hahahah!

          No.

        • elderman says:

          It’s all about credibility, relationships, and about how the internet works. This game and its developers have a terrible track record. They betrayed their trust with gamers first of all by trying to trick us into buying based on the similarity between the name and world of this game and those of DayZ; then by lying about its features; then by selling a buggy, unfinished, piece of software; then possibly by mistreating people who tried to get a refund. Therefore I don’t trust them to give me a good game for my money. Therefore I wont buy their game.

          RPS has earned our trust. Regular commentors too, and people with a complete online identity. On the other hand, there’s no reason to trust this out of the blue report of the game.

        • Shuck says:

          This is like saying, “You don’t know how good an investment the Ponzi scheme is until you invest your money into it.” Of course you do – it’s a f*cking Ponzi scheme! (Metaphorically speaking. The game is actually a completely different kind of scam. But it’s still clearly a scam.)

          • choad100 says:

            But its a game not a ponzi scheme, Google “reddit cirlce jerk” and that is what goes on all over the internet with this game. Stop all the hate, they dun goofed, get over it.

    • woodsey says:

      Get whitelisted for one of the private hives for DayZ.

  9. EpicusFuror says:

    Could we stop making free PR for these scumbags?

    Just stop talking about it, please.

    Thanks.

  10. Maxheadroom says:

    Speaking of shoddy-beyond-words launches, does anyone know what Sword of the Stars 2 is like these days?

    • Diziet Sma says:

      Much less buggy but fundamentally the same game. If you didn’t like it before you’re hardly going to love it now. It is however playable and personally I like it quite a lot. Frequency of patches has slowed somewhat and thankfully also no longer appear to be breaking save games. If you own it already go patch it up and check it out.

      ** Edit : Just checked, still very current – http://sots2.rorschach.net/Version **

      • maheusz says:

        It still crashes a lot for me. Also doesn’t work if not in windowed mode… I bought it year or maybe year and half later. Yet it’s still a mess.

        Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. When it works.

    • caddyB says:

      It works well. They are working on turn times and AI right now. While the devs have been patching it for little over a year, it shouldn’t have been released at the state it was in. Now the reputation of the developer and the franchise is ruined forever.

      I do like the game though. It’s a lot of fun having colorful space tactical battles even though I don’t agree with some of the design decisions on the strategic layer.

      On the good side, I’m never preordering anything without seeing it first, which is good.

      • Diziet Sma says:

        I concur, though the devs did ‘make right’ eventually it should never have been released. I picked it up from amazon some time after release for around a tenner and it was money very well spent. I don’t feel like I’ve played it lots but have clocked up well over 100 hours; mostly down to the glacial pace of the game. Hours drift by when playing it and it’s very relaxing (to me).

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Is there anything resembling a tutorial yet? I remember finding just ordering ships around hugely counter-intuitive when i first tried it

  11. MrBRAD! says:

    They should be forced to add to the start of the description “From the creator of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing…”

  12. bstard says:

    Stop spending time and effort on crap Valve, work harder on THE game that matters gdit.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      I doubt Valve spent any real time actually working with the devs. Most likely they just said, “we’re suspending this game for 2 months, and when you resubmit your info, make sure there isn’t anything misleading or else we’ll kick you off again.”

  13. Dudeist says:

    I dont know why game, where you must buy gold to do something is not free to play on steam?

  14. DarksDaemon says:

    So now War Z is back on steam the same time as Day Z we can have a battle as to “WHICH GAME IS MORE LIKE THE OTHER” as they are both essentially the same game but the war z having surprisingly less bugs than day z

  15. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I’m probably missing a point in my still sleepy head, but why doesn’t Steam have user ratings for games?

    • Filthius says:

      Well it kinda does. It has a meta-critic rating which is official reviews and punters ratings averaged out.

      • fish99 says:

        The score shown on steam is the critic score, not the user score. Also metacritic don’t average out user and critic scores into one single number, they have two separate scores. The only way to see user scores is to go to a games metacritic page. For instance if you do a search for ‘Crysis’ all the numbers on the search results page are critic scores.

    • fish99 says:

      …because they would sell less games?

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        That would be the point I missed.
        It doesn’t always work, but I find that generally user scores with thousands of votes can give you a good idea if something is attempting to be quality or not.

        • Shuck says:

          When it has a 23/100 critic score, that’s probably an even better indicator…

          • Shooop says:

            …That they couldn’t afford to buy better reviews.

            Not to say the game is actually good, but reviews aren’t what they used to be today.

  16. Shooop says:

    This is sure to end well.

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