The War Z producer says fans would be outraged if they couldn't lose micro-transaction items
"If I had a dollar every time people asked me why the War Z is not a free to play I wouldn't have developed the War Z at all."
The War Z executive producer Sergey Titov claimed that he gets a lot of fans who say they'll stop playing the zombie MMO if the developer removes the system that causes players to lose micro-transaction items every time they die.
Titov made this claim earlier this evening at a GDC talk attended by Eurogamer. "In War Z when you die you lose all your items, even if you bought those items using real money. [It's a] super, hardcore brutal choice. Recently some of the people on forums have been saying, 'we don't like that.'" But Titov claimed that he made a survey asking 18,000 users if this should be altered, and "most players said, 'don't change that or we leave the game.'"
"It turns out that people who get stuck and stay with the game, they like that," Titov added.
Titov also extolled the virtues of free-to-play games for several minutes, explaining how not having to pay a single cent made people far more willing to try out a game. When asked why the War Z wasn't free-to-play he replied, "If I had a dollar every time people asked me why the War Z is not a free to play I wouldn't have developed the War Z at all."
"Free-to-play removes any barrier for me to play your game. You instantly get a lot of users.... in paid game you get less users, but all of those users will be much more invested in your game... Do you need a more active, engaged audience or more people? There is no clear answer."
Elsewhere, Titov advised outsourcing tech support and community management. He noted that this used to be handled in house, but "if you don't satisfy their [the audience's] needs immediately they go nuts. And to do that you need lots and lots of people." He then said he didn't want to have a company of 200 people on tech support so he outsourced that.
"Let's say you have 200 people on your payroll doing support, and the next month you don't need 200 people. You only need 150. What are you going to do? Keep those extra 50 people on payroll, or fire them? Both choices suck."
When the moderator, Xsolla, Inc's Dmitri Bourkovski, asked Titov why he didn't go to a publisher to help with these issues, Titov replied, "Can you find one?"
"I don't think there are any global online game publishers," he said. "There are really good local online game publishers."
Another piece of sage advice by Titov was that games with zombies automatically sell a third more than games without zombies (though looking at the sales of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, he may have a point). "Zombies, [are the] new vampires. As girls like vampires, boys, they like zombies."
Finally, regarding the War Z's poor critical reception, Titov acknowledged that the game sucked at its launch phase, but he insisted it got better. "We got pretty shitty review scores for War Z... At Eurogamer we got the same score as Aliens: Colonial Marines."
"Most of the things they said they don't like about the game that was true," he admitted. "That was the state of the game."
"Online games change weekly, sometimes daily bases. The game today won't be the same game in the next three months."
"I don't know how online games should be reviewed," he confessed. "Reviewing a game just once doesn't work well for online games."