DayZ Bounty Creators On Shutdown Threats, Future Plans

DayZ Bounty‘s made a positively deafening amount of noise over the past couple days – and with good reason. In short, it’s a private server that players will eventually buy into using real money. Then they’ll get the chance to win it all back – and more – by killing zombies, survivors, and bandits. And while DayZ exists to encourage crazy emergent behavior, creator Dean “Rocket” Hall and the DayZ team think this is taking it a few steps (and dollars) too far. As such, the brains behind the wildly popular zombie mod have publicly stated that they plan to “ask that [DayZ Bounty] cease their activities in their current form.” However, speaking with RPS, Bounty’s creators were quick to point out a few key arguments in their favor: 1) no one from Bohemia/DayZ’s reached out to them, even though they’ve hollered in the DayZ team’s direction multiple times, 2) they’re not charging real money yet, and 3) their goal is to mod DayZ into an entirely different, more PVP-focused form. Apparently, this is only just the beginning.

“Right now, we’re not doing anything,” DayZ Bounty’s Jake Stewart replies when I ask how he and his partners in alleged crime are reacting to Rocket and co’s disapproval. “It’s free right now. We’re not charging any money. People are checking it out. People are giving their opinions on what they think of it. So far, we have 500-plus members – all of whom are very satisfied with the changes we’ve made to the map. They like the idea that someone’s on there 24/7 [monitoring for hackers and giving customer support]. They enjoy the honesty we share with them. We’ve told them about the issues. We’ve told them about the articles going around. When Bohemia Interactive does get ahold of us, we’ll post those emails and articles too.”

“In all honesty, we probably could’ve worded it better when we were explaining it,” adds fellow modder Andrew Defee. “It’s completely skill-based. There’s no chance in it whatsoever, so the idea that we’re trying to set up gambling isn’t really a valid point.”

Once it starts charging, DayZ Bounty will require an upfront fee of $5 for 20 lives or possibly a monthly membership. Beyond that, however, players’ fates are in their own, hopefully steady hands. The hope, though, is that players will  slowly but surely break even before their hourglass hits empty. This, explains the Bounty team, is why the monetary rewards (currently a tenth of a penny per zombie, five cents per survivor, 25 cents per bandit, and $5.00 for bagging the lone Outlaw with the highest kill count) are so small. On top of that, they plan to reveal any and all money received on Bounty’s website, where they will also mention specifically what it’s being used for – whether that’s server upkeep or paying particularly skilled/lucky players.

But honestly, why even take that route in the first place? Why charge for a mod – a holy grail of all that’s good, free, and oh yeah, based on someone else’s wholly owned intellectual property? Well, whether it’s presumptuous or not, Bounty’s purveyors think they have something special on their hands, and they’re determined to keep it that way.

“The only reason money has been brought into this is to limit the players that can join the server, screw around, and ruin the gameplay for everyone else,” explains Stewart. “We don’t want to charge people to have to play on a good server. So, by implementing this bounty thing – and we’re still working on the math to get it right – we want people to be able to take the game seriously. But, we want to give them the ability, during their 30 days, to get their $5 back. It’s trying to get realistic, hardcore players into a game where we don’t have to worry about people coming in and doing things stupidly. We’re trying to enable the ability to somehow give that money back [without just letting everybody join willy-nilly].”

“Everybody understands the concept of money,” Defee elaborates. “It’s tangible. It’s got value. So if you throw that in there, you’re trying to earn your money back. It gives you something to fight for. A purpose. You’re gonna play smarter, be more competitive, and just be better. Why do people play tournaments? Why are they so big? Because there’s money and reputation involved. Look at League of Legends. They just gave a million dollars to their winners. That’s why you have pros there – because there’s money and reputation on the line. That’s what we want to integrate into DayZ, I think, in part.”

But that, they go on to explain, certainly isn’t their unholy pony of the damned’s sole trick. It’s only the gate that keeps out the riff-raff, and on the inside is a shiny new style of DayZ that’s tailored to very specific tastes. In addition to adding a story and drastically revamping Chernarus, the idea is to inject a bit of ArmA II’s camo-green military lifeblood back into DayZ’s zombified corpse, and to give a tangible goal to what they consider fun but ultimately pointless proceedings.

“This is another thing not a lot of people talk about: the ArmA players don’t like DayZ players that much,” says Bounty’s James Ortiz. “So we’re bringing in these new vehicles – like tanks – and these military weapons to try and combine the two together. DayZ’s more of a survival sim without the military. So ours is more like what would happen if the military was involved. Those weapons would be in there. Tanks would be in there. Turrets. Searchlights.”

“I’ve been in the military,” adds Stewart. “I’m a retired veteran. I know what checkpoints are supposed to look like. There’s no telling what those zombies came from, so we’ve set up medical facilities and military camps. We’ve tried to gear people to spread out from the same exact path. Even watching it now, people are still attuned to the same path they follow in DayZ. That never changes, and there are so many things I’ve added outside that. Some of the small changes I’ve made to this alpha is setting up checkpoints at gas stations. That would definitely be done. Gas would be limited and on hold. And there’d be military posts everywhere. Yes, it gives people access to a lot of medical supplies, but how much can you carry? Having access to those things may un-balance it in certain ways, but we want people to be able to get into the game, get geared up, move where they’re going, and get their plans together.”

That’s another key tenet of Bounty’s formula: speed. Instead of slow, uncertain survival, the team wants people to be able to quickly find what they need to be competitive. Because that, at the end of the day, is Bounty’s central purpose: to tip the DayZ balance from flight to fight. Naturally, this makes me wonder why they’ve even picked DayZ in the first place when you can get a competitive experience from hundreds of other modern shooters – including vanilla ArmA. But Stewart and co point out that DayZ-style dynamics still exist in their mod, and that’s what makes things interesting. For instance, what happens if you’ve formed a fragile alliance with somebody, and they suddenly achieve Outlaw status? Do you take them down and claim $5, or is a burgeoning friendship worth more than that?

And so, in spite of all the recent animosity from Bohemia, Bounty’s creators actually think they see eye-to-eye with Rocket and co in regard to the big picture. They love DayZ as much as anybody, and they want its community to thrive. However, that’s not happening right now, they argue, so they decided to intervene with their own ideas and – in the case of infamously rampant hacking – preventive measures.

“I mean, that’s the biggest complaint we hear about DayZ: that hackers have taken it over,” explains Ortiz. “We have a build right now where, yeah, maybe they can get away with it for 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or hell, I’ll give them two minutes. But that’s about it. That’s one of the big things we’re trying to build, too. The verbal communication [from players]. ‘Hey, we saw this, or hey, we saw that.’ And then we also have 24/7 admins in spectator mode, so if we get a tip that someone’s hacking, we watch them. First move he makes, he’s gone forever. But we want people to exploit the hell out of our system so we can make it better. I want hackers. I hope to see them soon.”

For now, though, the Bounty team’s taking things one step at a time. They are, after all, still in alpha, so everything’s subject to changes both large and small. Nothing’s set in stone. Not tanks. Not guns. Not even the concept of paying to play. And who knows? Maybe it was unwise to go forward with the idea in the first place, given that it’s now attracted all sorts of negative attention and, of course, the potentially project-halting ire of the DayZ team itself. But Stewart, Ortiz, and Defee insist that they couldn’t just sit around and wait for approval. They had to do something.

“We’ve been doing our best to let [the DayZ team] know what’s going on – to get them involved,” says Defee, claiming that he and the Bounty team sent multiple emails to DayZ’s developers long before ever going live. “But we can only wait so long. If we send them an email, we can’t wait six months for a reply. We have the means to get this done. Why should we wait? We’ve got the means and the ability, so we just decided to go ahead and do it ourselves.”

As of writing, Rocket and co still hadn’t directly contacted DayZ Bounty. We will, however, keep you posted if that changes. Further, in light of Bounty’s arguments, we’re also seeking further comment from the DayZ team.


  1. SocraticIrony says:

    It doesn’t seem worse than any other pay-to-play system, at least this way there’s a chance of recuperating your investment. Although I’m not sure mounting this on top of someone else’s work is ethically sound, regardless if it was open source or not. I guess the proof in the pudding will be how any profits (if any) are spent.

    • Pindie says:

      Makes me wonder why they did not contact WarZ team instead, as their game seems more fit for PvP.

      I am pretty sure DayZ is neither secure enough nor polished enough for this sort of online tournament and I am also pretty sure Bohemia would want to stay away from potential bomb that this seems to be.

      I do not think there is anything in ArmA EULA to stop this. Some countries might outlaw it as a form of gambling though.

    • dontnormally says:

      This seems like a server-side service.

      There’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to do this with whatever game (that supports dedicated, login/password-based servers) they feel like.

      I hope it works out, they perfect the formula, and they do it for other games.

      [edit]: Rocket and co. should cool their jets.

      • Emeraude says:

        Still trying to see if there’s any ramification to this I may have missed (I’m slow), but yes, that is the opinion I tend to gravitate toward right now.

      • skittles says:

        The legality is a tad bit hazy. I imagine DayZ like many things would be considered licencing rather than owning, so the legality is grey.

        Then again either way I don’t see this being successful. It sounds like some teenagers with a pie in the sky awezome idea, which they haven’t thought through. And they will also have to be very careful about gambling laws or they are in for a world of hurt.

        • Domino says:

          BI and Rocket will shut them down eventually, they will be essentially profiting from someone elses work from both Arma engine (VR) and work that’s already been done on DayZ with it going to a paid model.

          No matter what they claim for it to be paid for, there is absolutely no reason to be charging as it doesn’t sound like it will be all that different from all the other current private hives/already made modifications like SurvivingDayz they are simply in it for the money, there are plenty of other mod-of-a-mod versions of DayZ out there that do fine without the cost.

          They don’t have a leg to stand on, especially when they don’t know what has been changed with the standalone version.

          • JarLoz says:


            What they are basically doing is offering a private, moderated server to play on for a monthly fee. That’s not illegal, nor is it even shady.

            It’s not like they are running off and selling DayZ as their own creation.

      • S Jay says:

        They are just addressing something that the DayZ community has been shouting since DayZ became mainstream: stop implementing all those new bugs, fix the previous ones, fix the hackers, bla bla bla.

        If they will succeed, that is another story, but I think they have the right to try.

  2. Kilometrik says:

    So they plan to take ALL i like away from Day Z and put in ALL i don’t (mostly) like about ARMA…. yaaah, i don’t care about them

  3. unangbangkay says:

    I admire the idea, as my primary issue with DayZ (and now War Z, by the looks of it) was always that the deathmatch atmosphere that’s prevailed has pretty much devalued the experience. Whenever a sniper’s bullet whizzes through my head seven seconds after I spawn in I can’t help but ask what the point is. I could survive quite a long time by lying down in the forest, but that’s not much fun either.

    I see the bounty system, even without the real money aspect, as a cool meta way of giving players incentive to take risks, and mitigates the frustration of being killed. When money or more real value’s on the line, it’s easier to tolerate when players shoot you on sight. They’re protecting what they’ve earned, or fighting to earn more. Context is invaluable for making competition feel worthwhile. You’ve got to know that the cutthroat stress you’re enduring will pay off, and sometimes the knowledge that you’ll make it another ten minutes isn’t enough.

    • Veedash says:

      If you devalue the penalty for dying, its going only to turn more into a deathmatch, rather than the immersion sim people seem to look for in this game…

    • The Random One says:

      If you don’t like the deathmatch mentality, I doubt giving rewards for kills will help.

    • MultiVaC says:

      Wait, you’re arguing that the payment system would make it less frustrating to be shot on sight? When you’re paying for lives, a person who shoots you on sight is essentially killing your money. Losing a 25 cent real money life to some douchebag who snipes you 10 minutes after you spawn is a recipe for rage on a whole new level.

  4. yurusei says:

    1) no one from Bohemia/DayZ’s reached out to them YET.

    And one day, when a lawsuit bomb drops in the mail…

  5. Unaco says:

    “Why charge for a mod – a holy grail of all that’s good, free, and oh yeah, based on someone else’s wholly owned intellectual property?”

    This is the problem for me… it isn’t their game, or even their mod, and so they should not be monetising or commercialising it. Make their own engine, make their own game… then sure, go ahead, charge what you want. But not from someone else’s work.

    • Pindie says:

      I think one could make a parallel with “private” Starcraft tournaments where Blizzard did not get a penny and all the income went to the organizer.
      Blizzard could not do anything about it.
      I never bothered to read EULAs but if there is just one sentence there saying “not for commercial use” then they are boned.

      • aepervius says:

        Only in juridiction which gives a damn on EULA, as opposed to first sale doctrine and sane contract law. If they are NOT distributing assets from DAyZ/bohemia/Arma 2 but their own coyprighted file, there is pretty much *nothing* that DAyZ/bohemia can do.

        • HisMastersVoice says:

          They’re using the ARMA 2 engine. That’s enough for BI to have a case. DayZ could also be considered a protected IP item.

          • dontnormally says:

            It’s no different than paying $x for access to a private server.

          • aepervius says:

            Using the eingine is not enough. They have to DISTRIBUTE to have a case against copyright infringement. If the stuff they distribute is only the MOD without DAyZ/Arma 2 assets , then Bohemia has no leg to stand.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            If it’s their engine, then actually they do have a case no matter how heavily modded and stripped the assets are.

      • Reefpirate says:

        Blizzard and Starcraft is a misleading example of this… The Starcraft tournaments happen because Blizzard lets them happen. They could easily deny people the licensing if they wanted to. As far as I know they don’t collect any money on most Starcraft events, but it could just as easily go the other way. Capcom for example is somewhat famous for only letting certain people run Street Fighter tournaments and hence you don’t see as many big money tournaments for their games. (Capcom, in my opinion, is really silly in this regard, but they are within their rights under the current state of intellectual property rights).

        IMO, the DayZ guys are pulling a Capcom here, and should let people do what they want to generate commerce with their game. I can’t think of any negatives as it only increases the popularity of their game.

        • DarkFenix says:

          I don’t know, this isn’t like hosting tournaments. The impression this gives me is of some other third party practically selling DayZ, someone who has no right to. It strikes me as a particularly unscrupulous dick move that BI have every right to want stopped.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Isn’t that different in that people don’t pay money to pay the game, per sé? It could be for the rent of the venue, hardware, commentary, organisation and the like.

        Well, I’m not particularly knowledgeable on the subject so I could very well be wrong.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I think what they could do in this instance is license the game, kinda like how some tools are free if you’re only dicking about but cost $1000 or whatever if you’re charging people for your product that uses those tools. There are certainly smart ways where everyone could win here, and like you say Starcraft has done very well out of the competition scene.

    • HothMonster says:

      There are already all kinds of paid private servers. People are happy to pay for good speeds and admins that do something about hackers. They are not charging people for the game, they are charging them to access their server.

      This just adds a method to make your money back.

      Once you allow people to run private servers I don’t think you have any recourse if a group starts charging for access to theirs.

      Personally hackers drove me out of the game. If the stand-alone wasn’t (hopefully) coming along shortly I might consider a paid private server. If I was considering a private server this one would be appealing because A) I can win my money back and B) 24/7 admins.

      If you remove the chance to earn money back I don’t think anyone would be arguing to get this shut down.

    • HothMonster says:

      If it is available free elsewhere and they are not providing a valuable service no one will give them money. If they are providing a valuable service (a hacker free server with good speeds) then that is what they are charging for. They are not making money off of Rocket’s IP they are making money off of protecting the players on their privately owned and operated server.

  6. Miltrivd says:

    No matter the good intentions, new focus, or whatever, the fact that they will make money with someone else’s work is there, in plain sight.

    • rockman29 says:

      That’s all there is to it.

      Make your own mod.

    • BAshment says:

      i’m pretty sure they will be making money from there own work like running a server and having 24/7 mods and implementing the new systems to DayZ. I don’t really see what’s wrong, surely it’s just the same as server hosting Companies?

  7. affront says:

    I don’t really see how this is much different from the hundreds of idiotic “premium” TF2 servers that let you pay for cheats – or even UO/whatever freeshards with “donationshops” (even if you can’t “buy power”).
    They’re all potentially making money, so I don’t see what the big deal is about now. Cut Rocket in on any profits if he wants them and have done.

    The idea sounds neat, anyway – even if I would probably never pay for it. Might be fun if the scoreboard showed account balance of cash instead of zombie kills or whatever, and the killer gets a percentage of the killee’s total instead of a flat reward.

    • rockman29 says:

      I think you’re overcomplicating this.

      Valve might be perfectly fine with allowing server owners to manage their maps however they like, including with pay-to-win benefits. That’s Valve’s option. Bohemia and DayZ creators don’t share the same opinion regarding the use of their products, so I think that changes the dynamic.

      • affront says:

        Yeah, of course they should have the right to shut it down.
        Wouldn’t make them look any better if they did, though, especially with blabbing about it in random interviews first instead of just slamming them with a C&D right away – that way the Bounty people would at least not waste any more time on their project.

  8. TsunamiWombat says:

    Considering how DayZ is going stand alone with it’s own engine, if DayZ goes for legal action they will likely win, as the intellectual property of DayZ belongs to them.

  9. WasabiCurry says:

    I would not be shocked if Rocket just asked for a cut of their profit. The novelty of having limited lives for those “hard-core player” would be kinda neat to see and the horror stories of “that one guy who lost everything” is always a good reading.

    In the coming weeks, I would see this idea being integrated into the game.

  10. pupsikaso says:

    Reminds me of the whole issue with some of WoW’s mods that were charging money. Boy were there a lot of “teapot to the kettle” type comebacks during those arguments…

  11. SkittleDiddler says:

    Rocket won’t allow this to survive when DayZ finally becomes a standalone product. Bounty is not going to last long.

  12. Moraven says:

    Should have just made their own zombie mod called Day$.

    And I doubt they will achieve much profit it any. Depends how much money leaves the system. At least at the poker table its consistent on the rake and you know you will eventually need new blood to keep the game going.

  13. sinister agent says:

    And lo, there came the inevitable fatal flaw of any online game, no matter how promising: other people.

    • Emeraude says:

      It’s too bad we have less and less LAN/private servers, which remedied the problem quite satisfyingly.

      • sinister agent says:

        It’s not even that, it’s the people who figure out the ‘optimum’ way to play, and end up forcing everyone else out in disgust. Private games would fix that, sure, but then there’d be none of the fun of real uncertainty, be it unexpected hostile strangers, or an anonymous, unspoken team-up with someone you don’t know.

        Sigh. Oh well.

  14. Shooop says:

    “3) their goal is to mod DayZ into an entirely different, more PVP-focused form”

    It’s already been PvP for some time now. No one plays it for anything else.

  15. golem09 says:

    Didn’t expect the military simulator mod to come out for Day Z that fast

  16. R_Yell says:

    Cash prizes in Arma 2 engine, a hacker’s paradise? Looks like a solid idea yep.

  17. jacobvandy says:

    They’re lying through their teeth to cover their ass when they say there is no chance involved in DayZ… The majority of encounters with other players in that game are almost completely random chance! It’s unreal how often I’ve managed to bump into somebody in a 15x15km map when there are only 15-20 other people there. Sure, the chances are bigger in a popular spot like coastal cities, the NWAF, Stary Sobor or other military encampments, but you still never know who might be sneaking around nearby until you manage to spot them (more luck) or shooting starts happening. The only way to remove that is to modify the game so that you have a minimap radar showing every player around you in a range of 500+ meters, which would really be dumb./

  18. Popcornicus says:

    I’ve dreamed of a hardcore permadeath FPS with real money rewards for a long time. My own MMOFPS idea would have a few hardcore servers where players could bet in for a set amount and earn other players’ full bet by killing them, although the house would take the cash should the player die to the environment or an NPC. Players would be able to cash out at any time, but this would ‘lock’ the character, only allowing the player to access the character again if the player were to re-bet that character’s value when cashed out. This would make the killiest (and presumably best-equipped) players worth more to take down.

    I have no problem with this model because a) it’s possible to play without risking real money and b) the player doesn’t stand to lose any more than they put in.

  19. Velko says:

    Umm… They charge you an entrance fee, which you can then earn back by killing other players, presumably mostly newbies because the longer you’ve been in the better gear you’ve got (and the better you become). Everyone pays to get in, and profits are there to be made as long as there are other players to kill.

    A certain mr. Ponzi would like to have a word with these guys.

    • gamma says:

      Well observed, mr. William Black!

      In all seriousness though, I think DayZ Bounty team and DayZ Devs could reach an agreement non detrimental to both the game and its players.

    • OutrightErrant says:

      If you actually read TFA, you’d see that you’re recompensed for killing zombies, BANDITS, and the Outlaw. The only thing that killing newbies will achieve aside from being a dick is making you a target for other people.

      • MasterDex says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong but the article also mentioned survivors. Now I’ve never played Day Z but I can only imagine that the survivors are made up of all the players on the server.

        If so, then perhaps it is you that needs to RTFA – Also, if you’re going to abbreviate, at least do it right.

  20. mondomau says:

    Isn’t ARMA II rather easy to hack though? Makes it a bit dodgy to gamble real cash on something other people are cheating at.

  21. Baal_Sagoth says:

    I’m not exceptionally interested in playing DayZ, its retail variant or this new mod for myself (anymore than the timid first steps I already took giving DayZ a shot experimentally). But being a modder that merely exists on the backs of other people’s work and showing the slightest bit of unkindness to other modders just seems dirty. I hope business nonsense doesn’t get in the way of a new wave of modders just because the old ones decided to go commercial all the way.
    On the other hand I’d really like the hype for this broken and flawed mod to die down as quickly as possible so maybe a civil war in the community will blow up this silly little bubble even quicker. They all want a piece of the pie now and that’s fine, but there’s nothing more to this development than that.

  22. Nimic says:

    So, essentially a Day Z pyramid scheme?

  23. Splode says:

    I don’t see any moral issue, this is no different to any other private server which costs to join. DayZ is open source, too, so y’know, they can’t complain.

    However, this is the worst idea I’ve ever heard. They want to make DayZ into a professionally competitive game, like SC2, Dota2, etc. DayZ is the worst candidate for this.
    It takes a pretty big company to maintain a competitive game, they have to make sure there are no exploits, and changing seemingly insignificant values can totally alter the gameplay. DayZ has more exploits than features, and considering the shaky platform it’s built on, this will be tough to change. It is also largely open source, which is going to make keeping hackers out nigh impossible.
    These issues will become significantly more prominent than they already are, because now people have a financial incentive. Write a zombie killing bot, make money.
    Even if the mathematics is perfectly balanced between players (ie you can’t make more money from killing new players than those new players pay for their lives in the first place), the fact that killing zombies has a cash benefit is going to cost these guys an incredible amount of money.

    TL;DR: This is a very, very bad model and is going to cost these guys a whole lot of money.

    • malkav11 says:

      Depending on how they’ve licensed their open source, they may absolutely have the right to complain. It’s possible and quite common for open source licenses to forbid using said source for commercial purposes, which this most certainly would be if they started charging for it. It’s equally possible to forbid it except as specifically licensed by the copyright holders.

  24. PleasingFungus says:

    “I’ve been in the military,” adds Stewart. “I’m a retired veteran. I know what checkpoints are supposed to look like. There’s no telling what those zombies came from, so we’ve set up medical facilities and military camps… Some of the small changes I’ve made to this alpha is setting up checkpoints at gas stations. That would definitely be done. Gas would be limited and on hold. And there’d be military posts everywhere. Yes, it gives people access to a lot of medical supplies, but how much can you carry? Having access to those things may un-balance it in certain ways…”

    Lots of people have criticized his monetization strategy, but I have more fundamental game design concerns. Stewart’s design philosophy seems to be based around not what would be fun, not what would be balanced, but what would happen in real life when the zombies came.

    Oh-so-realistic zombies.


  25. Panda Powered says:

    Building a private community for a mod with some monetary investment and rewards isn’t really anything new is it?

    My brother was part of some Counter Strike community a bunch of years back and they had membership fees, entry fees for tournaments with rewards for their members and stuff like that.

    This sounds more like a pyramid scheme though, I dunno :S

  26. TheXand says:

    I hope those cheeky chancers get shafted.

  27. theaborted says:

    It’s a morally bankrupt idea.

    Ripping off a free MOD for your own profit is just a horrible concept.

    DayZ’s just been EA’d.

    I hope people see sense and stay away from this.

    I would love if BI and DayZ team got together to produce DayZ on the Arma 3 engine with a similar model of in game ‘virtual’ currency rather than real money.

    Boom! Bye bye Bounty.

    It’s rather ballsy to take someone elses Alpha and try and incorporate a paid model into it.

    I see Bounty’s team giving Rupert Murdoch a quick nod and a wink while hi fiving Satan.