SOE’s H1Z1 Will Be F2P, Won’t Sell Weapons, Ammo, Food

By Nathan Grayson on April 24th, 2014 at 11:00 am.

So maybe you weren’t expecting SOE’s vaunted Star Wars Galaxies spiritual successor to be an overtly DayZ-inspired zombie MMO called H1Z1. And maybe you’re not exactly shaking the sand out of your old Tatooine-scouring boots in excitement. That’s fair. But as far as these things go, SOE does seem to be kind of on the right track. CEO John Smedley isn’t shamefully shambling (shamebling) away from DayZ comparisons, and he’s tackling community complaints head-on. Case in point: the survival-obsessed masses are easily spooked by the notion of rampant nickel-and-diming, but Smedley assured Reddit’s assembled hordes that SOE won’t charge for anything that affects gameplay. Smedley gave a rundown of a how H1Z1 will function as an F2P offering, outlining six core pillars:

  1. We will be selling wearables. We felt like this will be a good, fair revenue generator. However – we recognize how important finding wearables in the world is so you’ll be able to find and craft a lot of stuff. We agree that’s something important. We’ve also come up with a pretty awesome idea to let players who kill other players loot stuff. So if a player has a black ski mask and gets killed by another player, that player can wear the ski mask for a few deaths (we have durability in the game. Station Cash wearables won’t degrade at all but when you loot something, it will degrade. Please note the original player always keeps their SC purchased wearables.) This gives the great feeling of whacking some unsuspecting fool who decided to bring a knife to a gun fight.
  2. We will NOT be selling Guns, Ammo, Food, Water… i.e. That’s kind of the whole game and it would suck in our opinion if we did that.
  3. Nor will we sell boosts that will impact #2.
  4. Emote Pack – of course we’ll have the basics for free. But we felt like this is another good and fair revenue generator.
  5. Character slots – feels reasonable.
  6. Crates – You can find crates sometimes in game. They’re filled with random cool stuff from the store. We’re considering letting you see what’s in them before you buy a key (ala Dota 2.). This idea isn’t fully locked yet.

So basically, SOE’s going all-in on the “no pay-to-win” thing, which is nice given that some F2P games claim as much only to muddy the water with the odd balance busting weapon or boost that turns the level curve from agonizing uphill climb to reasonably breezy stroll.

I’m still not sure if the world needs another post-apocalyptic survival sim, but SOE could be doing a whole lot worse here. Between this, an intriguing fire system, and servers that support thousands of players (instead of the 40-125-ish of DayZ and/or Rust), I’m certainly not ready to write H1Z1 off as a symptom of the epidemic that is rampant copycatting. Now if they’ll just let me purchase the option to turn all zombies into anything else (but preferably something original like military men or palette-swapped ninja pirate zombies) then we might be onto something.

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61 Comments »

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  1. Sacarathe says:

    “Turns all zombies into Hormagaunts” – I could get behind that.

  2. IonTichy says:

    “shamebling”

    why do I giggle at this painful painful pun?!

    • Ross Angus says:

      Because you have found your true home. RPS: where the puns run free.

  3. Metalfish says:

    I think I’ve said this elsewhere, but: isn’t calling your game H1Z1 only a tier or so lower than calling it “HIZ” or “AIDZ”? Also, I’m trying really hard to ignore that if this virus isn’t airborne, the haemaglutinin bit that the H stands for is going to especially stupid.

    • Geebs says:

      Yeah, let’s name our game after a virus which is particularly lethal in pregnant women! Marketing gold

      • Stupoider says:

        I assumed swine flu was lethal to everyone. Doesn’t pregnancy increase the danger of everything?

    • roryok says:

      I’m guessing you do something with science

    • EveryoneIsWrong says:

      How do you know it stands for the same thing that the H in H1N1 stands for? Are you trying to argue that a zombie virus is trivial compared to H1N1?

    • Syphus says:

      Not really sure how you’re making the flu connection and then connecting that to AIDS.

      • P.Funk says:

        The flu connection is obvious, while the aids connection is more of a leap.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Ha, and here I logged on to express my appreciation for what I thought to be a clever title, haemaglutin notwithstanding.

      I really don’t think H1N1 is quite on the same level as AIDS in terms of having a bunch of sensitive connotations one must worry about dancing around.

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    Thurgret says:

    Without seeing a thing related to actual gameplay, I’m still cautiously optimistic about this – Planetside 2 has made me kind of like SOE.

    • Phier says:

      PS2 is why I just stay away from F2P games. Overpowering, overnerfing, put on sale the week before the nerf, nonsense. Add in they listened to whoever whined the loudest, ignored their own “roadmap”, and tended to nerf anything that allowed skill to overcome zergging, I won’t be playing an SOE MMO for a long time.

  5. SkittleDiddler says:

    Funny how DayZ fanboys are frothing in such a rage to dismiss this game. It’s already looking more competent than DayZ Standalone can ever hope to be.

    • Donjo says:

      I’m enjoying Dayz and looking forward to this. MAD, I know!

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        HighlordKiwi says:

        I’m afraid you’re not allowed to like both, either pick a side and start screaming or resign from the internet. IANAL but that’s how I understand it works now :P

    • derbefrier says:

      Hell at this point in the genres life cycle Just having a fully feature complete, relatively bug free, finished game will be something that’s never been accomplished before in this genre. My plan is to buy the first one that accomplished that and looks fun.

      • EveryoneIsWrong says:

        But if you just buy the first competent complete one then you might be buying the knockoff! that… is also the highest quality version. Don’t let capitalism and the free market win! boycott everything that isn’t based on the mod that is generally credited with creating this genre. We all know that there is only allowed to be one game per genre.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Yep, that’s my plan too. I’m so desperate for a good survival simulator (fug zombies, they’re secondary to the point) that I recently reinstalled STALKER CoP with a ton of mods in the hopes that it will temporarily scratch my itch.

        My life will be complete when we finally see a truly competent survival sim.

        • jonahcutter says:

          Project Zomboid does the zombie survival game as well as it’s been done. It makes DayZ look like… well… a janky, severely underdeveloped mod. Of course, PZ is isometric, so may be not as immersive for some.

          Same with Don’t Starve. Excellent survival gameplay. But not an fps. And story-book fantastical.

          • derbefrier says:

            I completely forgot about PZ. I tried their demo a long time ago and it was promising. Might have to check it out and see how its come along.

      • iseemonkeys says:

        Same with me. I love zombies, apocalypse and survival theme books, movies and games. I have yet to actual come across a game to really capture my interest in these themes. I did love playing the dayz mod and spend hours with it but cant bring myself to pay the retail version with the same engine and problems i could overlooked in the mod.

        Maybe a larger studio can help produce my dream game or least start the ball.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      I haven’t seen that at all, at least not above the background vitriol you find on the forums or r/dayz.

      In fact, I’ve seen a lot of players talking about this game like it’ll replace DayZ in the top spot for it’s genre, or at the very least, will provide serious competition. It’s pretty much the opposite of what you’re saying.

  6. Rao Dao Zao says:

    OMG SOE H1Z1 F2P TLA FTW

  7. PopeRatzo says:

    I’m all for more competent copycats to replace flawed games. But F2P is a stopper.

    Game developers: Please take my money! But not like this. Not like this.

    • Stupoider says:

      Sounds like they’re taking a page out of DOTA 2’s book, which is perhaps one of the least invasive F2P games I’ve ever played.

      Missing out on cosmetics (which I can loot from other players anyway) and mystery crates is a small price to pay for a decent game at no extra cost.

    • The Random One says:

      I agree with PopeRatzo. Again. WHAT’S WRONG WITH MEEEEEEEE

      OK, second things first. The specific mode they’re announcing is crap. If the items sold are cosmetic only, they must be only as good as your starting items. So you buy a cool leather jacket that’s functionally identical to your standard free player’s starting wife beater. And on your first search you find the game’s best jacket! Now you can choose to wear it and feel like a chump because you paid real Queen’s money for an item you’re not using, or you can not wear it and feel like a chump because you’re not wearing the excellent item you found. Congratulations: you and the devs collaborated to turn what should have been an auspicious beginning into a Hobson’s Choice of chumphood.

      The locked boxes are an awful move as well. Do you really want to copy the feature that brings TF2 and DOTA’s F2P models from “Platonic ideal of the perfect F2P model all should strive to copy” to “sleazy manipulative wannabe gambling site”? OK, so they say they’ll allow users to see inside a box before they spring for a key. I suppose pretending to give players a gift then holding it for real money ransom is better than outright gambling, but only by a few microponzis.

      And first things last… Why go F2P? What do they get out of it? F2P is a good model if you need numerous players and your game has simple engagement. That’s why most big & successful F2P games are MMOs and online arena shooters. (Admittedly, neither is true of SAUSAGES, the other big F2P genre. I don’t like SAUSAGES so I’ll just assume I’m super right and would figure it out if I just played them.) But this, an S&MMMMO game? The engagement is very very slow, and you are certain to enjoy the game more on a server with ten highly engaged players (who will roleplay, create factions and defend territory) than in one with fifty shallowly engaged players (who’ll run around throwing rocks and shouting PewDiePie references). If your ultimate goal is to make money, just charge for it!

  8. killmachine says:

    yea, why always zombies? i think people merely want a survival experience. zombies aren’t really a factor and quite honestly, zombies have been done to death. why not aliens or mutations? you would have more creative freedom with such things, as well as more believable behavior if your AI system isn’t that good. you expect certain behaviors from humanoid zombies but from mutated animals or aliens? these are much more chaotic and random.

    you could have, like, huge monsters and stuff, lot more behaviors like poison spitters or whatever. zombies are just boring, except SOE somehow tries to copy what left4dead did with zombies. but still, other monsters would allow you to do a lot more stuff. here’s hoping they actually remove the zombies like garry did in rust.

    • EveryoneIsWrong says:

      I’m not a fan of how Rust managed to bait-n-switch and pander to two audiences at once. Aliens have been done to death and I have never once found them specifically interesting in any game.

    • Shuck says:

      “why not aliens or mutations?”
      Those haven’t been done to death (and for far longer in far more games)? Let’s face it, it’s going to be one over-used cliché or another. It’s the nature of the industry.

      Also, simple zombies may be fine, depending on what sort of dynamics they’re hoping to get from them. They work in DayZ, for example, because it’s not really about the zombies. There are also plenty of dynamics you could get from simple zombies that I haven’t yet seen in any games, so there’s still room for exploration.

      • P.Funk says:

        Have aliens really been done to death in a sandbox MMO survival game? I’m sorry, did I miss the MMO that puts you outside City 17 and asks you to craft your way to survival while trying to avoid Combine patrols?

      • Universal Quitter says:

        As pointed out already, I haven’t seen a survival game set in a world being invaded by extraterrestrials, and even if such a game had already been made, the CURRENT RUT is zombies. The Battle of Hoth would be original and refreshing at this point.

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    DrollRemark says:

    It’s kind of fascinating how we’ve reached a state in modern gaming where demos are a very bad thing, and yet F2P is totally cool, despite being a generally really poor version of the former.

    Thanks whales. Thales!

    • The Random One says:

      That’s because if a million people play your demo and 20% buy it, you have 200 thousand users and a pitiful 20% demo conversion rate, whereas if a million people play your F2P game and 20% buy hats, you have a million users and an excellent paying player ratio of 20%.

  10. Rymdkejsaren says:

    “We’ve also come up with a pretty awesome idea to let players who kill other players loot stuff.”

    This sentence alone makes me want to punch someone.

    • Rymdkejsaren says:

      Not only does the game that SOE is ripping off do this, Ultima Online did it. In ’97.

      • Stupoider says:

        I think the point was that you can loot stuff that other players have bought. So that amazing cosmetic the other guy is wearing can be worn (albeit it will degrade after numerous deaths). I don’t know any other game that lets you do that. But by all means, continue being pedantic.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          I feel like that’s only marginally better than OPs misinterpretation. It’s still talking about it like it’s a generous, revolutionary new idea, when it isn’t.

          It’s like a doctor saying, “No you don’t have Lupus, just Malaria.”

          You’d be glad to not have Lupus, but Malaria isn’t something to celebrate.

    • EveryoneIsWrong says:

      I believe that is because you are reading it wrong. The “idea” in this sentence isn’t the “you can loot players” part. The “idea” is how they plan to handle looting buyable items and how buyable items will work when you are killed.

    • Terragot says:

      It’s a bizarre ‘off the cuff’ design decision anyway. I present the H1Z1 scenario :

      “Cool, let’s try H1Z1, hey look a cowboy hat, that’s cool I’ll buy it.”
      (Later, in-game)
      “Hey guys, can I team up with you, I’m friendly.”
      “sure dude, we’re hunting bandits… wait a second, is that cowboy hat? That’s $12.99 excluding VAT, get him boys.”

      – You have been killed –

      Why anyone would willingly pay to put a (almost literally) put a bounty on their own head is beyond my logic. That’s not even talking about a game that’s targeting streamers, yet is free to play so every viewer has access to stream sniping.

      • Koozer says:

        That sounds brilliant.

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          Rizlar says:

          Indeed! That mechanic is the coolest thing I have heard about this game so far.

      • Premium User Badge

        cpt_freakout says:

        And in the game.

        On a more serious note, considering death penalties in all MMOs have been turned into only losing time to a respawn, I don’t think it’s that much of a loss. Besides, if you do go and buy a 15 dollar hat you totally deserve that fate ;D

        • Arglebargle says:

          I recall a game dev talking about a survey they did on death penalties. The single most effective penalty was delay in getting back into the game/mission.

      • EveryoneIsWrong says:

        pay to lose?

      • P.Funk says:

        I’m reminded of the scene in About a Boy where Hugh Grant buys the dorky kid a pair of trainers and next we see him shivering in the rain with soggy socks cause the boys stole his shoes.

    • Rymdkejsaren says:

      So if I understand it correctly this is a way for people who did not pay for cosmetic items to get their hands on them temporarily?

      The concept of full loot has been around for ages. F2P introduced paying for cosmetic items, and now SOE will let you loot those, as opposed to other games. I fail to see what is commendable about walking in a circle.

    • k0pkaas says:

      That was referring to letting players who find a dead body loot any of the cashshop items on it. However the items that are looted will only last for 4-5 lives for the person who looted it (no other items carry over to other lives). The person who it was looted off of will still retain that cosmetic item, because he bought it.

  11. MrUnimport says:

    Looting cosmetics is pretty neat. Now. If only SOE would let us loot guns in PS2.

    • P.Funk says:

      Looting cosmetics sounds like something one of my crazy exes used to do.

  12. Arglebargle says:

    Smedly talks up full loot, open PvP systems a little too much for my taste. He apparantly likes it, but I have no friends who will play that sort of thing.

  13. Phildo Bagginz says:

    I really wonder when game devs are gonna realize you can make your game as f2p as you want, but if there’s terrible game play mechanics, character animations etc, all the “cool premium gear” in the world won’t save your game. Originality and not making it completely obvious that SOE is just doin this for the cash would make me have a little respect for the idea of this game. Cosmetic items should never matter in a game or be considered a “fair” way to rob people of their money. I miss the days when the complete game came in the box. there wasn’t dlc or skin packs. skins used to be secret unlocks in games. nowadays, its just a way to make every last penny off a terrible game before it dies. same with dlc. they keep a few chapters out of the game and when it starts to die, the devs finally release what should have been in the game to start with.

    Hey SOE, here’s an original idea. spend time working on your game and less time worrying about your get rich quick cosmetic bs. then when you actually have something worth releasing, put out a bunch of trailers and all that good stuff. Put a price tag on the game. get rid of the premium gear and make it seem like an actual game, instead of being a bigger dev jumping on the survival sim train to make money. oh, wait, that’s how the video game industry used to work. I forget that its 2014 and the only devs that actually care about their games and improving upon their ideas are indie devs.

    Yet another genre that’s going to be ruined and exploited by a bigger gaming company. Please SOE, do the right thing and worry more about the game play and features, rather than cosmetics and crates. you don’t need cosmetics or crates if you just put a price tag on the game. you’ll probably just end up making fools out of yourselves with this one though. each article i read on this game makes me dread the day this actually comes out.

    Maybe i’ll come down with H1N1 before that happens ;)

    • Phildo Bagginz says:

      On a side note, look at the 6 CORE pillars and tell me how it even makes sense to make those 6 things the core of your game, f2p or not. I read the current 6 pillars and just see, we want to take your money! we want more money! give us money! you can make characters in our character slots!! oh, and you can loot players.. well make you look cool if you do! I would have rather read:

      6 core pillars:
      1. AI
      2. Balancing the game
      3. Map design
      4. Character customization
      5. Weapon customization, variation, and decent gun play/ melee combat
      6. Vehicles that are super buggy and won’t kill you because of how buggy they are
      BONUS! 7. Skill trees? Any RPG elements? The ability to be a crackhead? ANYTHING MORE ORIGINAL THAN BEING ABLE TO LOOT PLAYERS!!
      I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE F2P ASPECT! I’d rather know why the game would even be worth a download.

      They have nothing to really show of their game yet. probably because they are so focused on trying to make it f2p and still get way more money than they deserve. Sad to see the industry goin in this direction. If SOE gets away with this then every big dev will attempt it. Muddying up the genre even more and giving everyone more garbage to sift through.

  14. trinsic says:

    We’ve also come up with a pretty awesome idea to let players who kill other players loot stuff.
    Yeah wow that’s a pretty original idea. The only problem is that its been in circulation for awhile. It would be better for the CEO to cite the games he got this idea from instead of faking that they came up with it them selves which looks like being disingenuous.

    • k0pkaas says:

      That was referring to letting players who find a dead body loot any of the cashshop items on it. However the items that are looted will only last for 4-5 lives for the person who looted it (no other items carry over to other lives). The person who it was looted off of will still retain that cosmetic item, because he bought it.