Zombie A Go-Go! H1Z1 Launches Into Early Access

Eight-one seven nine ten dollars? Nice try, Johnny Oil. I'll take my business elsewhere.

Let’s get all this out the way first: yes, this post is about paying to access a beta of a DayZ ’em up that will be free-to-play when it properly launches. This may not appeal to you; that’s fine. For the curious, let’s continue. Sony Online Entertainment yesterday launched their open-world zombie apocalypse survival multiplayer game H1Z1. SOE are bigger and have more resources than many folks making OWZASMPs (aʊ-sə-smʌp), so I’m interested in how this might end up.

Well, part of the answer at launch is “a bit buggy and making some grumpy about monetisation.”

Before all that, a brief explanation of what H1Z1 is: it’s an OWZASMP with vehicles and base-building. You understand. This blog post here has a big list explaining the state it’s in now and what you should be aware of: bugs, placeholder art, balance problems, and missing features like being able to see if someone who looks unarmed actually has a gun shouldered.

Onto the launch problems. Servers were overloaded, and are still a bit wonky. SOE president John Smedley says they’re working on that. Server problems during launches are rarely a surprise, but one change to monetisation was.

One of H1Z1’s microtransaction doodads is airdrops, where players can pay to parachute in a supply crate. They fall gently, giving other people time to spot it and, so the plan goes, spark little fights over who gets to keep them. It turns out these can contain guns, which seem rather game-changing. Back in April 2014, Smedley had said of their monetisation plans, “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.” Folks had thought this meant airdrops wouldn’t contain guns. SOE justified this in the blog post:

“We have made the decision to allow paid for airdrops into the game with things like guns and other things being randomly selected as part of the airdrop. We’re making them highly contested and building a whole set of rules around this, but you should be aware that our goal is to make this a way to keep things interesting on the servers but still be contested. If these offend your sensibilities just know that they are going to be there. We have gone out of our way to make sure the airdrops are contested in-game and that you can’t simply expect to easily walk about to the airdrop and grab it. Even if you paid for it.”

While they’re not selling guns directly, preparation or teamwork sure could help secure some if you’re the one triggering the airdrop.

Still, this isn’t all there is to the game, and it’s attracted plenty of players. As this post went up, H1Z1 sat ninth in Steam’s current playercount chart with over 26,000 survivalists.

H1Z1 Early Access is £14.99 on Steam. When it’s finished, it’ll cost nowt. Have a launch trailer:

40 Comments

  1. Steve Catens says:

    “Spiritual Successor to Star Wars Galaxies”.

    *sigh*

    • Anthile says:

      Promises are cheap, or in this case F2P even.

    • Distec says:

      If I try really hard, I can envision a universe where a tease like that makes some kind of sense.

      Nope. It’s not happening. If you wanted to build hype for your MMO zombie game, surely this was the shittiest way to do it.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      At some point I’d like to read a clear, straightforward explanation of how H1Z1 was supposed to be the game for which those of us who enjoyed SWG were supposed to “come home.”

      Maybe a few world-dynamics are similar? But the mechanics of play certainly don’t seem familiar, and the tone/aesthetics aren’t even in the same dimension.

      But maybe I’m just not seeing it. I’m open to being persuaded. I hope an attempt to do that happens.

  2. Penguin_Factory says:

    This game does not look very good, based on the footage I’ve seen.

  3. ye-ole-PK says:

    I cannot trust SOE to make this fair. I am out.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      They already aren’t.
      “PAY to test our game for us, then everyone else can play it for nothing”

      Fuck early access, it needs to burn in hell.

      • spamenigma says:

        waah waah… etc.. Seriously.. Early Access is optional! People just need to get a grip and a mind of their own! Wait for release (or not), contribute and buy early access (or not)… simples… don’t see what the problem is. Even those of us who have bought into it, it was hardly expensive.. about 3 pints in that NODNOL!

        • Chaz says:

          A round of 3 beers costs you £15 quid!!! Bloody hell, I’d find a different pub to drink in if I were you.

          • spamenigma says:

            That was supposed to be tongue in cheek, I live a long way from ‘that London..’ so a bit cheaper up my way! :)

  4. Chuckleluck says:

    As someone who spent many a night sobbing over someone stealing my care package in Call of Duty, I can only imagine the immense rage when someone purchases an airdrop with their hard-earned cash, only to lose it to some bandit.

    • Steve Catens says:

      It is a baffling decision. It seems designed to make precisely no one happy. There is the hilarious flip flop on the, “Oh no we won’t be selling guns…that would make the game suck” , followed by the “sorry if that offends your sensibilities, but fuck you (paraphrase).” And then they turn around and make it so the people who actually enjoy paying to win don’t get guaranteed access to the things they paid actual money for.

      I’d be more flummoxed by this and the whole “spiritual successor to swg” fan trolling, if it were anyone other than SOE. Unfortunately, this seems about par for the course for them.

      • GoTo2k says:

        “It seems designed to make precisely no one happy”

        I couldn’t have said it better!

        The thing is, airdrops themselves would make a great addition to the game, just see DayZ:Epoch or Rust as examples. The whole problem only stems from the greediness of SOE. Why not make a game which people genuinely like to play and then offer huge amounts of costumizations? You could sell so much! Skins for clothing, weapons, cars and player-build bases, custom emotes, more character slots… And they also have their battle royale gamemode which, as far as I understood it, is only accessible when you pay for a ticket.

        I really think that they shot themselves in the foot by what amounts almost to sneaking in a P2W mechanic. I am pretty sure that it will hurt their sales quite a bit. In the end, it is just somewhat dissappointing, I was really looking forward to this game as I was hoping for a more stable survial-experience with much more zombies and players.

    • Wounder says:

      It does rather feel like they’re experimenting with something. Something dangerous and/or stupid. I can’t see myself paying for a chance to be robbed, basically.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I’m pretty sure I’ll give this a go at launch on F2P, realise that without spending money I have no chance of getting anywhere and quit.

    • GameCat says:

      You can lose the ship with goods worth few $1000 in EVE Online and no one seems to complain.

      • Tukuturi says:

        Converting ships/goods in Eve into real world monetary values is kind of a joke though. People aren’t actually spending that money, nor is that money actually represented by those in game items. Yes, you can buy PLEX (game time) with real money. You also buy game time with real money in WoW. Does that mean all the Wow characters you’ve had since vanilla are worth $5400 each? No. That’s absurd.

  5. 0positivo says:

    There are Airdrops you have to pay real money to call in. They can contain anything, including weapons and useful stuff

    That’s all I’m going to say. For you to judge

    • trjp says:

      Worth adding that the developers said – on several occasions – that weapons and supplies would NOT be purchasable

      I guess they’re using the “BMW and Ferrari School of Marketing” – which is to use bare-faced-lies in the hope no-one will notice…

  6. Janissaire says:

    Even if you paid for it.”

    Evil is evil.

    If i found one of them far from other sub-human,i will do what i do to sub-human.

  7. Sir Motorsheep the Marbled says:

    Wait. So did I get that right? a big publisher is using the early access model, which small game studios employ in order to gather the necessary funds for further development of their title, to make people pay for an alpha version of a game which will be free to play later on?

    Also, it’s the 150-millionth zombie game out there.
    Also, it’s an MMO, which means that it probably won’t offer the kind of uninhibited interaction with the environment (read that as “i can dig shit up and cut down trees and build a fort wherever I damn well please) that, say, 7 Days to Die offers.

    Granted, it will have better graphics and more players than 7d2d. But it looks like this is pretty much it.
    Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • derbefrier says:

      first part is wrong indies don’t have a monopoly on early access. Its there for anyone to use (for better or worse). IT wasn’t specifically created for indies it was created because everyone and thier mom started charging for betaalpha access as soon as they figured out millions of gamers were okay with it and steam wanted a piece of that pie. being small and indie is how it was justified at first maybe but as soon as it was evident you could make money off games before even finishing them that wasn’t going to last.

      • Sir Motorsheep the Marbled says:

        In my opinion it’s still not cool for somebody to cut corners like that if they could afford not to. Early access, to me, means “Hey guys we want to make this awesome game, but we don’t have the money and it’s too risky for the big guys to fund it, so we’re asking you to buy it in advance. In return, we’ll take your advice throughout development.”

        But in this case, SOE doesn’t need my help. It feels as if they’re trying to tell me “You want this free game so much that you’ll be willing to pay just to be able to play a buggy, unfinished version of it.” Well, no, Sir, I don’t.
        Then again, nobody’s forcing anybody to pay for early access to this game. You could probably compare it to RSI selling thousand dollar virtual space ships at a time when the game was already very well funded, and I’ve never objected to that.

        Also, I just learned that the guys behind this are the guys who made Planetside 2, and that turned out pretty well and also pretty damn fair towards non-subscription players in my opinion. That’s not to say it’s probably the most well-balanced f2p model out there.

        Also, even if it’s a big company, there’s still a budget for every title they make, and if early access can bring that up higher and lead to a better quality game, then I’m all for it.

        Thank you, it was very fun and enlightening arguing with myself.

        • skittles says:

          Well personally I think Early Access makes perfect sense for a multiplayer game. It is an easy way to get the game out from your usual stable of testers and opinions, and seeing what the normal players actually think.

          Charging for that access is fine too, despite it being f2p in the future. Charging is a way of gating access to those that genuinely want to play, rather than those simply wanting to try it out. Which for an Early Access game makes sense, as they don’t want millions of people swamping their servers when they are still testing game mechanics. Although that doesn’t always work of course.

          • April March says:

            Even so – a big publisher should wait until the game is almost complete before it offers early access. Like the Battlefield betas. Because they can afford to, unlike small indie outfits living hand-to-mouth. Of course, if people pay…

            I honestly have no problem with they charging for early access to a F2P game though. That’s a lot more honest then releasing the game as paid, promising that it’ll never go F2P, then going F2P within six months.

  8. Boosh says:

    soe now doing refunds
    link to reddit.com

    • Tutamun says:

      What I do not understand is this:
      They have talked about servers with different rule sets in the past.
      As I get it many people do not want paid air drops… so why not offer a server with a specific rule set that does not allow to use air drops?

  9. airmikee says:

    So I’m given a chance to Pay2Win with air drops, and other people are given the chance to steal what I just paid for..? And the devs think this is a good idea?

    This is a hard pass.

    • SalaciousJames says:

      I can dig it. The risk of losing a paid air drop will basically restrict its use to all but the most desperate, and skilled players who don’t pay still have a shot at the goodies inside. I’m sure players will come up with all kinds of schemes to skew that balance, but it’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard for a F2P.

  10. Artist says:

    H1Z1 free to play….. 14,99
    … Technical difficulties….

    Its a tad sad that this article misses out the whole fancy story that happened yesterday. Including a very butthurt Smedley who offers now refunds via Sony on a “no questions asked” base (isnt that a first for SOE??)

    And then getting Steam to offer “self-issued refunds” for customers that have been lured into their pay2win model – which obviously is NOT a pay2win model, according to SOE and some players, but which IS pay2win according to some other, which are definatly comming from Rust, DayZ and others to wreck H1Z1, according to some others. Heck, it was HILARIOUS funny on Steam, Twitter and Reddit yesterday!

    Oh, and yes – you read correctly: “Self-issued refunds” on Steam! Players can simply go to their store transactions, click the H1Z1 purchase to get their money refunded!
    That IS a first for Steam! Isnt it fantastic how easy and friendly Steam can be when another big Major is watching over their shoulders?

    Oh and also look how H1Z1s review score was smashed by the Angry Steam Kids (ASK) down to a crippling 51%! (WarZ/Investation Survivor Stories has 50% btw) Needless to say – Sony is not amused. hehe!

    Too sad that the article hasnt included this breathtaking, world-changing ongoings around H1Z1 yesterday..! =)

    • mickygor says:

      fwiw Clegg’s acknowledged and apologised about airdrops being p2w – looks like they’re going back to the drawing board (much like they did with implants for PS2)

      • Steve Catens says:

        From what I’ve read, it’s a classic “Sorry you misunderstood us” non-apology. They’re doubling down on air drops, reiterating that this is how they want the game to work. I don’t see any indication of going back to the drawing board.

        I’m happy to read any link that says otherwise.

        • Artist says:

          After Sony PR had to struggle to prevent/contain this kinda justified shitstorm this looks a lot like “just damage control” to me.

          Kind of funny that it was also Smedley who orchestrated more and more pay2win elements into Planetside 2 and even stated that selling cosmetics-only doesnt generate enough income from Planetside2.

          Now the same guy directs a game that claims to sell cosmetics-only? Again? History repeats, I guess.
          Im not sure how far you can put trust into Sony. Heck, at least not how they protect you personal info, hehe.

          • airmikee says:

            I wonder how much companies like Sony pay to find good people without any integrity who can still tell bald-faced lies at the drop of a hat without so much as a twitch of honesty poking its ugly head through the bullshit.

  11. Phier says:

    F2P + Sony will always equal PTW.

    They gotta make their money somewhere. The F2P design will always by default create a problem where they gotta get money out of you and don’t believe they expect to live on “cosmetic” changes. Planetside 2 was a great game, ruined by Sony due to having to get people to buy new toys constantly since it was F2P.

  12. brotherthree says:

    To anyone thinking of trying this out:

    I got pulled into buying the game, and had heard of its p2w reputation from the launch day, and was like 99% sure I was just going to play an hour then throw it in the trash.

    Played it…. and enjoyed the hell out of my time. While hardly a huge compliment, h1z1 is already better than DayZ, Rust, any any other survival MMO game i’ve played.

    So I actually went from thinking i just wasted 20 bucks, to having already played probably 24 hours into a 4 day old game.

    Its certainly a beta – but rest assured the ground work is all there.

    As for the p2w aspect, all I will say is this, and you can take it for what it is:
    In the 24 hours of in game, actual play time, Ive probably been witness to maybe 20-30 rounds of ammunition fired. Total. From me, my friends, and enemies.
    If someone is getting these crates, I certainly have yet to see it really impact my game play.

    So there it is, a person who got dragged into the game unwilling, assumed as per the massive blowback and reviews that it was p2w mess, but then tried it and was pleasantly surprised that the controversy had zero impact on my experience. (if it “is” or “not” I will leave to the expert debaters on the internet :P)

  13. rusty_shackleford says:

    Please read this before you post here.

    link to h1z1.com

    You’re paying for early access people. If you’re not satisfied its because neither is SOE which is why the game is STILL IN DEVELOPMENT. If we were all satisfied then the game would be in POST DEVELOPMENT. Don’t play early access games if you can’t handle it.