War Z creator apologizes for controversy

Sergey Titov admits he became "arrogant" due to zombie game's quick growth; says community management and moderation fell short.


Infestation: Survivor Stories (The War Z)

Outspoken The War Z creator Sergey Titov has apologized for the game's controversial launch (and subsequent de-listing from Steam) earlier this month. In an open letter to the community, Titov said developer Hammerpoint Interactive "failed to effectively communicate" its plans for the new zombie survival game, which led to some "very negative feedback" from members of the community.

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"I became arrogant and blinded by the early success and quick growth of The War Z, our increasing number of players, numbers we were getting from surveys, etc., and I chose not to notice the concerns and questions raised by these members of the game community as well as others," Titov said. "This failure is entirely on my shoulders and if anything I owe thanks to that vocal minority and admit that I should have paid attention sooner. I chose instead to concentrate on the bigger picture: my dream of turning The War Z from being a game developed by a small indie team into a large online venture, instead of addressing small things first and staying focused on the game issues."

Titov further noted that the events of the past week were "especially humbling." He said the past cannot be changed, but promised the same mistakes will not be made in the future.

"I was too focused on how great we are and how a small independent team got their first game to over 700,000 users in a two-month period," Titov said. "Though that is something to be very proud of, allowing that to overshadow the existing community and their satisfaction was poor judgment."

Titov explained that community management and moderation for The War Z fell short. He said Hammerpoint relied too heavily on forum moderators, whose primary directive was to punish those who broke rules, he said, instead of engaging the community and guiding conversations toward constructive discussion. Additionally, Titov said there was not enough attention paid to talking about upcoming War Z features or appropriate dialogue through social networks.

"There wasn’t enough presence of the development team on forums; there wasn’t enough updates on development of upcoming features. We failed to communicate our position and messaging on the outside platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and various online websites, and when we did this we chose to rely more on arrogance rather than being humble and trying to understand why people were saying negative things," he said.

The solution to the community management and moderation problems, Titov said, is an overhaul of Hammerpoint's community management procedures and rules. "We’re going to reevaluate publishing and marketing team performance, and I will make sure that Hammerpoint Interactive developers will have a much stronger voice when it comes to community management."

Titov also shared that one of his proposed ideas to engage the community further is to invite 10 players from around to the world to visit the Hammerpoint offices in Los Angeles, California. There, these gamers would meet the development team, get a look at in-development features, and addresses concerns, wishes, and other thoughts.

Lastly, Titov clarified that the current version of The War Z is titled "Foundation Release," which is a "first-stage" release used as a foundation to build on top of.

"I do believe that we aren’t even close to uncovering the true potential for The War Z, and I hope that in the coming year, we’ll be able to regain trust from people who were alienated by our actions and we’ll be able to move forward and grow the game together," Titov said.

Controversy surrounding The War Z came to light upon the game's release through Steam last week. Users quickly began reporting numerous issues with The War Z. Further, many players criticized the game and Hammerpoint for being misleading and for censoring their comments about issues with the game. The game has since been pulled from Steam.

Day Z creator Dean Hall previously said the controversy left him "depressed," noting he contemplated leaving game development altogether as a result.

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