back to article Valve hauls down The War Z, offers refunds

Valve has performed a humiliating climb-down over zombie game The War Z, pulling the game from Steam and offering refunds to players. The game launched to two huge customer responses: it became simultaneously the top-selling game on Steam, and the most hated. This Reddit thread will give you the flavour. After first defending …


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  1. James O'Brien


    This kind of thing is precisely why the Apple app store kinda works. Having something reviewed before it is released makes a certain kind of sense. While Apple may miss things once in a while for the most part it seems to work.

    More than likely this will be happening more and more as the community can pick games to "greenlight" which the majority of them are probably early betas atleast if not an alpha. While I applaude valve for doing this its ripe to have this happen again.

    .......god I just defended Apple. I'm going to go drown myself in booze and tears because of this.

    1. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: sadly

      There are LOTS of games in the Apple app store that suck. Both free and paid. Apple just check that they run and follow the rules. They don't check to see if they are any fun to play.

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: sadly

        To be fair (and I'd say this applies to all app stores), 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' - I'd sooner a store owner makes sure that it runs and isn't a dodgy dialler than say whether its fun or not - that's what comments are for (and some of those rants are waaaay better value than the games).

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: sadly

      You missed "I'm going to go drown myself in downvotes"

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: sadly

      "This kind of thing is precisely why the Apple app store kinda works...." It's also why our neighbour's kid racked up an £1800 bill on the app store, because it was so easy to buy so much complete dross. He had two-dozen different fart apps for a start.

      Having been in on the Steam experience since day one (I was a beta tester) I can say that I can't remember the last time I had a bad experience with a Steam purchase. Sure, I have bought games, played them a few times and decided they weren't for me, but none where I thought to slag off Steam. The reason The War Z has caused such a fuss is because the crap product is abnormal for the average Steam experience. Before I buy games I usually check them out, read reviews, and then decide to make a purchase based on my research. Idiots that rush to buy the latest trendy anything just because of the hype are going to get a lot of disappointments in life, whether it is on Steam or the highstreet.

  2. Bush_rat

    Cheers Reg!

    Nearly got that game, cheers for the warning!

  3. Martin Huizing
    Thumb Down

    Dead on arrival...

    1. Deny under pressure

    2. Bend under pressure

    3. Break under pressure

    Great business model! Not!

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: Dead on arrival...

      They denied something? Where? It's a bit harsh to go laying all the blame at Valve's feet when they didn't develop the game. Would you blame Game if you'd bought War Z off the shelf and it was shit? I'm thinking back to Sword of the Stars 2 as an example, which was released completely broken; no-one blamed the retailers, FFS.

      1. DJ Smiley

        Re: Dead on arrival...

        The fact isn't that the game is shit - the fact is the blurb for the game claims a lot of things about the game which simply aren't true.

        Number of players is wrong, in game area is wrong, there is no buyable experience points, but they do have buyable (with real money) weaponary, many many more things.

        It was clearly more fun to poke fun at someones comment than actually doing the small amount of research required. As for GAME, I'm not sure who'd be liable if they sold a game which advertised having things it didn't as most of the staff wouldn't have the means to check ( I worked there for awhile) however we'd prob refund it as faulty.

        1. Greg J Preece

          Re: Dead on arrival...

          The fact isn't that the game is shit - the fact is the blurb for the game claims a lot of things about the game which simply aren't true.

          The blurb provided by the game developer/publisher, and similar to the descriptions on Amazon, Game, and every other retailer? Or do you imagine that all retailers personally write all product descriptions?

          It was clearly more fun to poke fun at someones comment than actually doing the small amount of research required.

          Poke fun == disagree with? Thanks for the patronising response, but I know how Steam works.

          As for GAME, I'm not sure who'd be liable if they sold a game which advertised having things it didn't as most of the staff wouldn't have the means to check ( I worked there for awhile) however we'd prob refund it as faulty.

          Exactly like Valve are doing?

        2. EvilGav 1

          Re: Dead on arrival...

          In the case of Operation Flashpoint, which was released with blurb on the back stating it would have dedicated servers (but didn't), the retailer was liable.

          In this case Steam is merely a retailer, so if Game and Amazon have the same blurb, then they are liable. The contract of sale is between you and the seller, not between you and the manufacturer.

      2. Martin Huizing

        Re: Dead on arrival...

        'Deny' as in not allowing the public to vent their anger on the forums.

        1. Captain Underpants
          Thumb Down

          Re: Dead on arrival...

          I can't imagine why, amongst gamers in particular, Valve might have decided to lock down the ability to smear shit all over the walls, figuratively speaking throw a tantrum in a manner unrelated to the process for requesting refunds.

          I mean, it's not like open-access unmoderated communications systems have ever been shown to attract idiots and promote the kind of discourse that only a damaged brain would actively seek out, is it?


          Oh, hang on a second...

  4. Ceiling Cat

    Users weren’t allowed to post to the game’s forum about why they were leaving, with the forum rules stating “do not post ‘I quit playing this game’ threads. No need for drama”.

    I wish there were rules like this for more games. Seems every stinkin' time I try one of those Free-to-play MMORPGs, the first sign of whatever (botting, packet editing, the company being "greedy" and not giving away all content for free), the forums fill with quit threads. Not only that, everyone feels the need to make their own thread about quitting, rather than keeping it all to one thread.

    Funny thing is, unless they do one of those petulant "givein' it all away" things ingame, they'll be back. Even if they do give everything away, they'll still have a mule account or pet that they can log in as. They never just leave quietly and permanently.

    Beer, because I always need one.

    1. Raumkraut

      Had enough of El Reg's moneygrabbing bull****, I QUIT!

      > They never just leave quietly and permanently

      The ones who post in forums, perhaps not; they will be the ones with a significant emotional investment in a game (otherwise they probably wouldn't bother with the forums). But for every person publicly ragequitting, there will likely be many more leaving with no fanfare.

      Don't assume that, just because it is noise, it is not also part of a signal.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Had enough of El Reg's moneygrabbing bull****, I QUIT!

        there is a difference between rage quit and a "dont buy this game because it is broke" post.

        This game was a pay to buy then pay to win on top. It is a real real mess of a game. Have a look at one of his other games - big rig racing. It has a great youtube video.

        1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

          Re: Had enough of El Reg's moneygrabbing bull****, I QUIT!

          I have, many a time, announced that I wouldn't touch a game again (either in an existing thread or elsewhere) and then, shockingly, never touched that game again. Worms Reloaded comes to mind - no matter what machine I tried, I couldn't get multiplayer to work at all, because they used a multiplayer system that - by their own admission - only two Steam games used: Theirs, and another which had lots of reported multiplayer problems.

          They had no intention of fixing it, and never did, and to this day I still haven't loaded it back up except when they claim to have "fixed" it and then I just prove to myself that, actually, it's still exactly the same. I haven't loaded it in over a year now, I don't think, and gave up looking for updates. And that also stops me from buying any of their other games too.

          If I've paid for a product, and I have problems, I will post my problems on your forums (don't expect me to sort things out entirely in private - there's a reason that I publicise the problems even for my favourite products - to get them acknowledged, fixed, and show people the difference between a company that cares and one that doesn't). That's what forums are there for.

          I will post them in the most relevant area possible and contain them in my own thread unless another is very similar and I can "piggyback" on their comments. I title them with a relevant header and search before I post. That let's people know the various problems and come straight to a relevant post when *they* do the same. I've had posts that were literally titled with the error message that only I and a group of others were getting and until I made the post, all the previous entries were just "It doesn't work", "I get an error", etc. with no details and no follow-up (or follow-up on the 32nd page which is *USELESS* for other people trying to find help).

          And when I announce that I am quitting a game (Age of Booty - Gamespy never worked properly. Worms Reloaded - funny UDP multiplayer mode on Steam never worked properly - both probably because I have a software firewall and a hardware one, but that's no excuse when thousands of other games work online just fine. The new X-COM demo - I got into an infinite loop in the menu and could not get out of the game without a full process kill, nobody was interested so I didn't buy it. I could go on.), I quit it. Whereas when I announce that I have a problem and someone aids me in diagnosing it (Zombie Driver - I found a crash-bug related to having a joystick device installed that wasn't really a joystick device, but a keyboard-based emulation of one), I'm happy to post the solution and go on my merry way and sign the praises of the developers.

          That's how this works. Put out junk, and expect your complaints department to get overwhelmed. And in the online world, the complaints department is a publicly visible forum where everyone has their own grievance.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    software that escapes rather than being released.

    That's the problem with zombies... can't keep 'em down!

  6. Mark Eaton-Park

    The only thing abut this story that is unusual is ...

    ......that they got a refund from Valve.

    Many games on steam failed to work as per the marketing, off the top of my head Most EA games and Stronghold 3 was one of the worst ones I heard about recently.

    The standard excuse is often that the distributors forced the developer to release on a particular date regardless of the state of the product.

    Unfortunately the "complex software comes with bugs" lie is so universally accepted that they get away with it and just laugh at all the people complaining in the forums. To anyone who wants "that" game then my advise is to buy it retail, that way at least you can always just take it back as unfit for use.

    With steam your T&C says you own nothing not even the media, this as when you buy a steam game you are just "renting" its use on the steam "service".

    The steam agreement must be one of the most offensive pieces of legal cack out there intended to limit customer rights and removal all responsibility from valve and steam, have a look:-

    You must agree to this to play on steam as well as agreeing to allow them to sell your personal information without restriction.

    1. localzuk

      Re: The only thing abut this story that is unusual is ...

      Its a trade-off between convenience and the restrictions. For me, buying retail is not really an option. Nearly no stores in the UK sell PC games any more, only online sellers, which means an even longer wait for it to arrive, especially as mail delivery in my area is somewhat dodgy.

      Or I can click a couple of buttons and voila, its downloaded on my PC.

      I'm willing to risk it.

    2. Def Silver badge

      Re: The only thing abut this story that is unusual is ...

      <BignameMMOfromafewyearsago> was released on Steam at one point. The first I (or any of the programmers, to the best of my knowledge) heard about it was when we started getting bug reports that it didn't work.

      Our marketing department, in their infinite wisdom, decided to negotiate and release the game on Steam without consulting any of the development team.

      In the end, I figured out it was the Steam client that was to blame for it not working. It was processing the command line for our process and forwarding the spectacularly broken remains to us.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: The only thing abut this story that is unusual is ... @Def

        Thanks for sharing, Def. It's nice to have an actual witness testify this happens.

  7. localzuk


    The decision to release was obviously one made by bean counters, and not the developers themselves IMO. Release just before Xmas, and watch as everyone gets it for a present.

    It sucks that games are still being controlled by the money men in this way. Sure, I understand budgetary constraints etc..., so you can't take forever like Duke Nukem Forever did, but you also shouldn't have to push something out too early before its ready.

    1. PatientOne

      Re: Christmas

      "The decision to release was obviously one made by bean counters, and not the developers themselves IMO. "

      Nope, the developers decided to release it.

      Story is on the BBC with the admission from the developers that they released an incomplete game.

      The interesting bit is:

      "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. "

      So it was an intended release, was known to be incomplete, but they forgot to make this clear on the Steam site.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Isn't "WarZ" basically a reattempt to do "DayZ", which is an enthusiast's attempt to reskin "ArmA II" into a Multiplayer Zombie Apocalypse Survivor Theme, which kinda works, with less rampant game hackers and more pay-to-play?

    1. Greg J Preece

      Speaking of rampant Day Z hackery, check out Team AVO's Day Z vids. They're hilarious.

    2. Miek

      Apparently WarZ was in development before DayZ, depending on who you choose to believe. DayZ was created by an enthusiast, albeit, an enthusiastic Arma II developer.

      For me WarZ is a just another pay-to-win game like Blacklight Retribution.

      The Hacking in DayZ was ridiculous, so many 12 year olds getting their parents to buy hacking engines and crap, what is the point of playing a game if you are going to cheat?

      <-- Pengiun Icon goes here (why no icons on

      1. Flawless101

        "Apparently" but there has been little to no proof it was, and given that a lot of it was copy and paste it's piggybacking of the survival zombie genre.

        DayZ hacking is wild however. The fact so much of the game is client side means you can edit memory at will, to the point they are banning people if you had CheatEngine (program to edit memory of a process) running.

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        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Blacklight redemption isn't pay to win, you can earn in game cash to rent pretty much any weapon in about 45 minutes.

          World of Tanks is pay to win. However most of the people that play WoT have jobs and like the game so will spend money on decent stuff.

          1. Miek

            I like to keep the items I have earned, rather than have them disappear after a day or two. The idea of renting it sucks balls.

          2. EvilGav 1
            Thumb Down

            If you have to pay to win at WoT, you aren't playing very well.

            As a winner of the most recent UK WoT tournament, my account isn't always a premium one, yet I have a w/l ratio much the same as those who do pay a lot.

            1. Scott 62

              Whether I pay for WoT or not has no effect on my actual playing, bar spamming gold rounds everywhere, I suppose, which I'd rather not do unless the MM is drunk again ("LOL, T82 AGAINST 5 KV's...WHY NOT!!1").

              However making 60,000 silver from an average game in my JT8.8 does make life much easier in terms of buying shiny new stuff.

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  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Micro" Transactions

    Are not so micro.....

  11. jason 7

    Is this linked to World War Z?

    As the movie of the same name (after the book) has had to have about 75% of it re-shot. Not good.

    Looks like its a cursed franchise.

    1. MegC

      Re: Is this linked to World War Z?

      Nope not related, it was in my opinion just a really fast and impressive grab for money cashing in on the success of DayZ which seems to be being properly developed (albeit slowly) and with some word association to the film coming out soon like you mention.

      The thing is with this, its not just that the software was released prematurely, which it definitely was... it's also that it was such a blatant money grab with pay to win but also pay then die to some invisible guy 'cos the game "forgets" to render him and lose all that cash bought loot.

      From what I've seen even if you dismiss the "It's clearly an alpha product not release state", "pay to win and pay to play", "obvious plagiarism of what looks to be a good game when finished", "blatant lies on the steam store page with screenshots that are all but impossible to come across in game and 'features' that don't exist touted", etc... its still a terrible terrible product.

      It frankly scares me a little bit that people buy things like this without any research into if the games any good and if the developer is just some guy in a balaclava waiting down a dark alley.

      Good work by Valve refunding the cost etc... I hope it costs them some wedge to be honest, the consumer might well get some protection from them in the future if they think it'll be a dent in their pocket every time something like this slips through.

      (Btw people blaming Green-light, this skipped Green-light because they had previously released something on Steam, lovely loop hole there really when you consider that this is nothing like their other games which have been poor, small games... This was a much more ambitious idea).

  12. sisk Silver badge

    Pay to respawn??

    No thanks. I gave up pay to respawn games when I quit going to arcades. On a home PC game it's just despicable. I'd be shutting down the game and demanding a refund the first time I got told to pay them to let me respawn.

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