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The War Z dev: 'We were arrogantly deaf to problems'

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They may not be slavering corpses, but the developers of The War Z share one thing in common with the undead denizens of their game: Persistence. Despite seemingly endless controversy, the open-world zombie survival game has reportedly passed 2.8 million sales.

From the beginning, players accused The War Z (aka Infestation: Survivor Stories) of liberally borrowing ideas from Bohemia Interactive's cult-hit DayZ, including its setting and basic "survive against endless hordes of corpses" gameplay. Then The War Z reached Steam and was immediately hit by allegations that the developers knowingly listed features on the digital storefront that had not yet been added to the game. Valve eventually stepped in and pulled The War Z from Steam.

The War Z was eventually fixed and made a return to Steam, but the problems didn't end there. Days after it reemerged, the game's servers were hacked. Fortunately, player payment information was not compromised but the hackers did gain access to player email addresses and War Z log-in information. A short time later publisher OP Productions changed the game's title to Infestation: Survivor Stories, presumably to avoid conflict with the recent Paramount Pictures' feature film World War Z.

Despite all these problems, the game continues to attract a following. In July it surpassed over 1.3 million players and in a recent Gamasutra postmortem, executive producer Sergey Titov claims the game has sold over 2.8 million copies to date.

Though successful, Titov believes his team could have done better. "Throughout all of this, I think the biggest mistake we consistently made was that we were arrogantly deaf to problems raised by a vocal minority of players," Titov told Gamasutra. "For a long time our strategy was very simple - we looked at a massive amount of data we had mined and if it looked generally okay, it meant that things were going well, and if someone started discussing problems on the forums or on social media we generally ignored them. There was a lot of hate out there on the web being aimed toward us, the studio, and the game. Today, I realize that there was plenty of reason for that hate, but at the time, we were foolish and thought that we didn't have to listen to or respond to 'haters.'"

[Image: OP Productions]

Gallery: The War Z | 65 Photos

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