Sergey Titov, the executive producer of controversial survival zombie MMO The War Z, has issued an impassioned apology following the game's release on and subsequent removal from Steam.
In an open letter to The War Z and PC gaming community, Titov admitted the game's developer, Hammerpoint Interactive, failed to effectively communicate to players. This, he believes, was the cause of much of the negative feedback many have given the game.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.
“At the end my arrogance led us to the moment, when all those small things finally caught up and created a 'perfect storm' that affected all of our community members. For that I'm truly sorry and apologize to all of our community as well as the larger PC gaming community that is not yet playing The War Z.”
The War Z hit the headlines after it was accused of false advertising following its release on Valve's digital platform Steam.
Hammerpoint got in a lot of hot water after advertising up to 100 players servers, when in fact it only supported 50 players, among other errors. The developer was also accused of unfairly banning members of the Steam forum who complained about the game.
Following a Valve investigation, The War Z was removed from Steam, where it was, for a while, the best-selling game, with refunds offered.
At the time of publication the game is still not available to buy on Steam, and the buy page on the official War Z website is offline.
Titov came under fire for his reaction to the allegations of false advertising. In a remarkable post on The War Z forum, Titov apologised to those who he said “misread” the game's product page on Steam.
Now, Titov appears repentant.
“I do not take this situation lightly, and last week events were especially humbling for me,” he wrote. “I've experienced a range of emotions, most of which centred on regret for not having addressed some of the issues differently than we did, but we can't change the past.
“The only thing we can do is to be sure that we won't repeat the same mistakes in the future. I have realised that as the leader of this ship, I missed all early warnings that were saying, 'Your community is not as happy as you think they are, you need to alter course.' 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. Though that is something to be very proud of, allowing that to overshadow the existing community and their satisfaction was poor judgement.”
Looking to the future, Titov vowed to improve community management and moderation, making Hammerpoint Interactive developers' voice louder. He suggested flying players out to the development team's headquarters in Los Angeles to voice their concerns.
It seems Hammerpoint and publisher OP Productions may be in dispute. Titov said the developer is “currently evaluating” its relationship with its publisher. “I firmly believe that Hammerpoint Interactive should be playing a more prominent role in publishing/game operating process,” he said.
“We'll be making some big decisions in terms of leadership for both companies and I will personally change how I handle many things. Above all we will continue to develop and make this game the best that it can be.”
Concluding, Titov called on gamers to give The War Z a second chance.
“I know that to some people my words won't matter much. I understand that. I hope that will change as we move forward and deliver the features that our players have been waiting for. I can promise you that from now on things will be much more transparent, and we'll provide better communication and engage our community to discuss upcoming features way before they appear in the game.
“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.”