SOE-SOE: H1Z1 fumbles the in-game purchases ball as SOE (again) mishandles its communication
Zombie fans (like our very own Willie – watch out for his epic DayZ history piece coming soon) know this very well, but let’s review the facts once more for the uninitiated. H1Z1 is Sony Online Entertainment‘s take on the zombie apocalypse survival genre, described by SOE with the following post-necrotic text:
“Enter a world that has been overrun by zombies and fellow survivors since the H1Z1 virus outbreak. Fight for your life against the infected and against the brutality of others as you attempt to live and see another day. Every moment is borrowed time with one question to answer… Will You Survive?”
An online, free-to-play MMORPG/Shooter, H1Z1 entered Steam Early Access last week and probably couldn’t have made a louder entrance. The USD 20 Alpha build of the game was immediately immersed in scandal when SOE announced at the last possible moment that, contrary to all previous announcements to the contrary, weapons and ammunition would indeed be purchasable through the game’s cash shop.
The disputed items, whilst not available as direct purchases, instead come in the form of crated “air drops”, which also contain random assorted cosmetic items and ‘care package’ stuff. In order to actually purchase an air-drop, which are described by SOE as “action events”, there need to be at least 50 players on the server at the time. Following purchase, an airplane flies overhead, which takes a couple of minutes, dropping the crate which then parachutes quite slowly down (another 3-4 minutes). The whole thing is announced server-wide with a text message and the crate’s landing is also marked by a large smoke flare, giving players (and zombies) plenty of time to converge on the scene and scrap for its contents.
Whatever you think of the actual mechanics, there’s no denying this is another classic SOE communications failure. You can read more about the current status of the beef between some of the 40,000+ Early Access participants and SOE thanks to the good folks at IncGamers.com (read this and then this). No wonder SOE volunteered refunds to dissatisfied players almost the same day as the game’s release.
One thing particularly annoying customers so far is the fact that the game will be Free to Play when the release version comes out later in the year, while gaining Early Access to it now costs actual human money. Although SOE are far from alone in charging for Alpha access, it’s this coupled with the fact that the publisher appears to have done an 11th-hour 180 on a very sensitive subject that is causing so much outrage. However the final game turns out – and changes have already been introduced to the air-drop mechanics – it’s negligence like this that rarely goes forgotten. Bad form, SOE, bad!
What goth? Nosgoth Open Beta launches this Wednesday
Do you sometimes feel like you’ll explode in sunlight? Or that you shimmer slightly in the dusk? If so, you may want to join the primeval war between humans and vampires in Nosgoth, a “free-to-play multiplayer action-adventure game” being marketed as a Legacy of Kain spin-off. Square Enix announced on Wednesday that the Nosgoth open beta will launch at 7pm (CET) on Wednesday, January 21st, so be sure to check your Steam client this coming Wednesday and make sure you download the client in time for the evening launch. Our feelings about the game are rather mixed – despite some positive player feedback, we’re waiting to see how it settles in post-launch before we sink our teeth into it and try to confirm or reject our reservations about this title.