Player complaints drive zombie game off Steam

Screenshot from The War Z
Image caption The War Z challenges players to survive in a zombie-infested world

A zombie-themed video game has been removed from the Steam online store after a series of player complaints.

Gamers complained on Steam chat forums that The War Z lacked features promised in promotional material.

They also complained about changes that let players pay to return to the game quicker after being killed by zombies.

Steam-operator Valve said it had been a "mistake" to put War Z on sale and offered full refunds.

Missing features

In a statement, Valve said The War Z had been issued "prematurely" and would not go back on sale until "we have time to work with the developer and have confidence in a new build".

Those who downloaded the game and are happy to keep playing can continue to do so, it added.

The War Z was promoted as an open-world massively multi-player game that challenged gamers to survive in a many different zombie-infested virtual environments. In addition, said developer Hammerpoint, up to 100 players would be able to join each server and gamers would be able to draw up friends lists, rent their own private servers and improve game characters via a sophisticated skill tree.

When the game went on sale it quickly became the top seller on the widely used Steam service. However, those who bought the game and installed it found few of the claims made for it were accurate.

Complaints began appearing on chat forums on Steam and on social media site Reddit. Players vented their feelings about an update that changed re-spawn times from one hour to four hours when their character was killed. Players could resurrect instantly if they paid using an in-game currency that can only be bought using real money.

The furore led Valve to halt sales of the game and offer refunds. In addition, Hammerpoint changed the way the game was described on Steam to be more accurate and issued a statement to address "questions and concerns".

Hammerpoint said the version of War Z released on Steam was a "foundation release" that was equivalent to a basic version that would be regularly updated as development work was completed. Private servers, more virtual environments, skills and other promised features would be added in the next few months, it said.

Sergey Titov, executive producer of The War Z, told PC Gamer that he agreed with Valve's decision to remove the game from Steam. He said Hammerpoint "made the mistake of not communicating effectively to the Steam community".

Although no longer available via Steam, The War Z is still available via the Hammerpoint website.

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