Despite Bad Press, War Z Sells Nearly 3 Million Copies

PC zombie game now known as Infestation sees millions in sales despite a controversial launch.

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Despite no small amount of controversy surrounding its initial release, PC zombie game The War Z, now known as Infestation: Survivor Stories, has sold nearly 3 million copies to date.

Executive producer Sergey Titov reveals in a post-mortem blog on Gamasutra that the game has sold 2.8 million copies so far. He says this is "no small achievement" due to the game having a "shoestring" budget and only being worked on by a small, independent team.

What's more, 700,000 of the total 2.8 million sales came before the game's launch on Steam.

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Titov also revealed some engagement statistics, saying more than half of the game's 2.8 million players have spent over 50 hours playing the game. Some have even played for 1,000 hours, he said.

The game's success was never guaranteed, Titov explains, recalling some of the mistakes made along the way. First, he says deciding to call it The War Z was a "terrible choice," as it was too close to another zombie game DayZ, as well as the Brad Pitt movie World War Z.

"We made a big mistake in not listening to the vocal minority of our community who thought the name was terrible," Titov said. "Handling our community communications differently would have alerted us to the major mistake we were making in choosing a name that was so close to our main competitor’s game."

Titov also says the team at developer OP Productions was "very arrogant" in its public discourse. He explains that the studio should have done more to explain to fans why The War Z was not a DayZ clone, including listing off the differences in terms of design and more.

Through it all, Titov says the studio's intentions were good.

"We were (and still are) fans of the genre and wanted to create a game that addressed the problems many had with DayZ," he said. "If we had communicated more openly and effectively about it all, we may have been able to show the gaming public that we weren't cloning, but expounding on a genre that we wanted to explore ourselves."

Following the game's launch in December 2012, users began reporting numerous issues with The War Z. Many players criticized the game and its developer for being misleading and for censoring their comments about issues with the game. Steam removed the game from its library following these complaints, only to reinstate the game just a few months later.

The game's removal from Steam was damaging, Titov explained, admitting that the studio failed to check and edit the description of the game before launching it. He also reveals that one reason for the developer's haste was because he wanted to beat DayZ to market.

"In our rush to get the game up, we neglected to do the due diligence required to avoid the resulting blunder," he said.

The War Z's arrival on Steam came before the platform launched its Early Access program for in-development titles. Titov says the version of The War Z released on Steam in December 2012 was basically a beta, and, had they waited until Early Access was rolled out in March 2013, the game "could have been perceived much differently."

"In the end, The War Z launch was just as messy as we all probably remember it, but it wasn't the flop that many thought it was and it lives on in Infestation: Survivor Stories with more to come," Titov said. "I sincerely hope that other independent developers can learn from our experience."

You can read Titov's full post-mortem, which is a very fascinating and frank read, at Gamasutra.

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