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: