Sony’s foray into the increasingly crowded world of the zombie survival MMO has gotten off to a shaky start after players voiced their outrage over the presence of pay-to-win microtransactions.
H1Z1 went up on Steam on the 15th of January via Steam Early Access, selling for $19.99. The game will eventually be free-to-play upon release, so potential Early Access purchasers need to keep that in mind before plunking down their money.
Of course, many who have already made the purchase are beginning to question their decision, as the game, in its early alpha stages, is having trouble getting players past the login screen.
The bigger issue, however, makes itself known once you actually start playing the game. Back when H1Z1 was shoring up anticipation from the gaming press and community, SOE president John Smedley adamantly stated on Reddit that crucial items such as guns, food and ammunition would not be available as microtransactions. “That’s kind of the whole game and it would suck in our opinion if we did that,” he said. Instead, that dubious title would go exclusively to cosmetic items.
With the game now playable to the general public, many players are furious over airdrops, a feature that allows for the use of real world money to purchase a cache of guns, food and ammunition. The cache is airdropped in a manner that allows all players on the server to locate it, with a loud, conspicuous cargo plane that leaves green smoke trails in its wake. The player that purchased the airdrop must then patiently wait for the cache to be parachuted to the ground, and during this time other players can make their way to the same spot and attempt to steal the cache for themselves. Regardless of whoever purchased the airdrop, the player that successfully makes off with the goods gets to keep them.
Despite these caveats, many players perceive the airdrop feature as a betrayal to Smedley’s insistence that H1Z1 would not use pay-to-win microtransactions. As PC gamer notes in their own playthrough, one could find a remote part of the world to call in the airdrop, allowing for a much greater chance of securing the supplies for him or herself.
The furor over the airdrops has prompted SOE to offer refunds to anyone regretting their purchase. According to Smedley, SOE are handling the refunds themselves, but a user on Reddit noted that one could get a Steam Wallet refund by clicking on Account Details in one’s Steam account, and then clicking on the refund game button under Store Transactions.
At any rate, SOE are working to fix the server issues infecting H1Z1, while further tweaking the airdrop feature to be even more difficult for players that purchase it.