The War Z sold 2.8m copies despite dismal reception
"I am sure overall sales figures would have been better without the negativity."
Open world zombie survival sim Infestation: Survivor Stories - better known under its original name, The War Z, before altering it due to a trademark issue - has sold 2.8m copies since its launch in November 2012.
The game's executive producer Sergey Titov revealed these figures in a postmortem at Gamasutra where he looks back at all the lessons he learned during the game's troubled launch.
For the uninitiated, The War Z was released in such a poor state that Valve removed it from Steam only to reinstate it a couple of months later. The game's original description was full of so many factual errors about its features that Titov had to apologise to those misled by this. Also, the game just plain wasn't very good, according to our reviewer.
Titov still regrets numerous decisions about the game and its launch, but at the time thought he was doing a bang-up job. "In the run-up to launch, we thought we hit all of the important PR milestones: early demos, a press tour, regular asset reveals, hands-on previews, etc," he wrote in his retrospective. "Even so, we made a big mistake in not listening to the vocal minority of our community who thought the name was terrible. 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 [DayZ]."
"Again, our intentions were good," he added. "We were (and still are) fans of the genre and wanted to create a game that addressed the problems many had with DayZ. 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.
"More importantly, we shouldn't have ignored obvious resentment from most hard core DayZ fans who clearly were not happy that someone was 'taking away their game,' as they put it. Instead of ignoring them, we should have paid more attention to addressing their critiques instead of working toward hyping the game to the more casual crowd. At the end, this ignorance bit us in the ass."
While The War Z ended up doing just fine in spite of the bad buzz it was getting, Titov suspects it could have sold a lot better had he made better decisions. "All of the bad press obviously gave The War Z and OP Productions a bad reputation. It adversely impacted our brand and I am sure overall sales figures would have been better without the negativity," he lamented.
"I wonder where the game would be today if we had avoided these many mistakes and press coverage had focused on the things we were doing right. Even with the bad press, we sold three times as many copies of the game after reviews hit than we did before. But I'd be lying if I told you we're not still wondering what our sales numbers would look like if we did things differently."