Controversy Surrounding H1Z1 – How SOE Shot Itself in the Foot

By   /   Jan 17, 2015

Sony Online Entertainment’s H1Z1 zombie survival MMO game was self-deemed to be the finished competitor of DayZ, but a turn of events has seen it plummet into the pits of damnation.

The fault for their demise only falls onto themselves, as they defected from their initial promotional promises amidst the build-up of the title’s hype in the past year or so.

Fans were promised a balanced, absolute survival MMO that would primarily be developed through consumer feedback, but SOE turned its back on its own statements, resulting in heavy criticism from none other than their own community.

In light of the turn of events that led to this uprising, one cannot help but back the community’s rage towards SOE. Unfortunately, SOE’s response has been rather bitter to the criticism.

The primal issue that surrounds H1Z1 is the introduction of airdrops – crates that players can purchase from the store for real cash. There are two major issues surrounding this; one of the issues has been clearly highlighted by the community, and the second one will be pointed out by us.

The first problem with airdrops is that instead of containing aesthetics such as skins, costumes, and other cosmetic items, they drop goods that potentially shift the entire balance of the game. In gaming terms, this has turned H1Z1 into a ‘pay-to-win’ title.

Airdrops can contain items such as ammunition, guns, and other life-saving appliances, which go directly against the statements made by SOE prior to the early access of the game.

John Smedley, President of SOE, stated on the game’s subreddit way back in April 2014 that they would not be selling vital items in airdrops because ‘quite frankly, it would suck.’

About eight months ago, Smedley again posted relating to airdrops on subreddit, this time however, his statements were 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

We will allow players to purchase Air Drops of care packages like food, water. It goes to a random location and is obvious to everyone in the area. Think of it like buying surprises for people in the game that if you’re lucky you can try and get yourselves.

Quite strangely enough, a streaming video by renowned streaming personality NGTZombies was published earlier this month, and shared on H1Z1’s official website.

The video is shared below:

NGTZombies is joined by H1Z1’s Creative Director Adam Clegg in the video, who provides commentary and additional information while NGTZombies plays. During the 40-minute mark, Adam Clegg clearly states:

There’s no way you can get ammo any other way. You can’t buy ammo. You can’t buy guns. You can’t get them out of a crate. There’s zero way. You have to find them in the world.

Now the question arises as to why there was a certain amount of confusion amongst the SOE personnel to give rise to contradictory statements. It seems it was simply a cheap attempt to lure gamers into their thin-bordered mechanism of money generation through such pay-2-win features.

President John Smedley’s statement yesterday on reddit regarding the matter was met with further feistiness and infuriation, and rightly so, because it was a weak attempt to defend the sudden change in direction.

Moreover, bluntly stating, “So if you think it’s P2W don’t buy it. Don’t play it,” is extremely unprofessional of Smedley, and also one of the worst ways to tackle the concerns of a community that had intended to back the H1Z1 project.

The second issue however, is widely overlooked, and we’ll go over it.

Let’s, for instance, say that H1Z1 is indeed a pay-2-win game. However, according to Smedley, the airdrops will be ‘highly contested’, which means that there is a large probability that the individual who has paid for the airdrop will never actually get it.

If this is not a cheap method of robbing players of their money, then I don’t know what is. Players will pay if they feel they are guaranteed an advantage over those who don’t.

No one in their craziest minds would want to pay only so that others have a chance of acquiring goods that they have spent their money on. Mr. Smedley should open a casino if he finds this idea appealing; after all, this is pretty analogous to gambling.

The P2W scheme is extremely controversial even in every other game, but there is not a single title that I or anyone else knows of where a spender is not guaranteed the acquisition of the goods that he/she has purchased.

H1Z1 has shot itself in the foot, and the negative reviews on Steam are the beginning of the end of the title.

SOE messed up badly, and no matter how many statements they release in their own defense; H1Z1 is tainted by their poorly hidden scheme, and is a contender to be looked upon as one of the worst managed game launches in recent history.

For the sake of their own future, there is a lesson to be learned here by Smedley and his team: do not discuss features that will not make it to the end product just to appease the fans.

Gamers are no fools, especially the more experienced ones, and will be quick to point out inconsistencies or hypocrisy.

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