Mad Mack: The WarZ Open Letter Was The Worst Apology Ever
Recently, in an open letter to the ‘WarZ and PC Gaming Community’, WarZ executive producer Sergey Titov issued an ‘apology’ over the horrendous conduct of himself, forum moderators, Hammerpoint Interactive and OP Productions in the past few weeks. This is going to be a bit of a long one, so for those that do not have much time to spare, I am going to cut straight to the Mad Mack Official TL;DR Response.
That’s it. Seriously. There is no more to say is there? Oh, wait, yes, yes there is. First, a little about Sergey and his behaviour and that of his cohorts. Well, fortunately, in order to save me some time, a friendly Redditor kindly compiled a timeline of events.
I am going to cherry pick a few here:
Oct 23 – The Executive Producer of the game, Sergey Titov, calls spawn campers “faggots” but quickly makes a public apology.
Nov 29 – People requesting refunds are told that their info will be put on a blacklist and they will not be able to purchase things using the same service as WarZ. WarZ updates their TOS disallowing anyone who accepts to get a refund.
Dec 17 – WarZ is released on steam and enters “Foundation Release”, a term coined by the DayZ community. Entry contains certifiably false info.
Dec 18 – Steam Description Changed. Still full of shit.
Dec 19 – Steam pulls WarZ. Valve offers full refund to all customers who purchased WarZ.
What is missing from this, is that the same day WarZ was pulled from Steam, Sergey Titov issued an initial ‘apology’ for all the people who “misread” what the description on Steam was saying; apologising because it could have “multiple interpretations”. In a further interview with GameSpy, he went on to assert that despite the Steam description being utter bollocks, it was the readers who were in error because they didn’t understand what they were buying. Despite what the words in the description actually said.
What is also missing is the horrendous treatment WarZ players have apparently received at the hands of OP Productions, forum moderators and Xsolla (the asshats who facilitate in-game micro-transactions). Such examples include this chap, who was threatened with legal action for helping others get a refund on their game; and this fine sir, who had his account locked for no particular reason. Or you could just look on Reddit to see the dozens of cases of gamers being seemingly banned from forums/subreddits, or being blacklisted for requesting refunds, or the fact that the game’s promotional material has blatantly been ripped off from other sources (including The Walking Dead, apparently, though I can find no verification for this).
Then, after Christmas, Sergey Titov makes an ‘apology’ to the WarZ community and PC gamers as a whole. Hmm.
Let’s take a look at the text of the apology. He opens up with a ‘thank you’ for the game fan(s). Fair enough. Then we get:
‘Along with that thanks, though, I need to admit that we failed to effectively communicate some of our plans and actions to both our existing players and to our new prospective players’
Are you fucking kidding me? It was not your ‘failure to effectively communicate’ that pissed everyone off; it was you calling players ‘faggots’, and then openly denying that you were lying in your Steam description, when it was obvious that you were.
‘This failure to communicate resulted in some very negative feedback from some members of our community, but while it might be easy to label them as “haters” or some other dismissive term, in all honesty this is my fault. I became arrogant and blinded by the early success and quick growth of The War Z’
Well you were almost right there. You said you ‘became’ arrogant, but I would suggest that you have been arrogant all along. And it is certainly easy to label your critics ‘haters’ when they quite reasonably hate you for that arrogance.
‘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’
You mean your dream of making shit loads of money? I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that; but make no mistake people, when he says ‘venture’ here, it is not ‘venture’ as in an endeavour, it is ‘venture’ as in Venture Capitalist.
‘…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’
SMALL THINGS??? SMALL THINGS? Are you fucking kidding me? Lies, plagiarism, mistreatment of your fans, avoidance of responsibility? You are really taking the piss now. Let me tell you something fella. With shit like this, you must be off your fucking head if you think the ‘larger PC gaming community’ will have any truck with your shit-scam of a game.
(Incidentally, speaking of ‘Trucks’, Sergey Titov was a developer on what is widely considered the worst, most incomplete game to ever be launched: Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.)
Sergey then goes on to talk about the Community Management and Moderation. Let’s see, what was the problem there Sergey?
‘Unfortunately, we weren’t prepared for this large success and the way we managed the community was not the way it should’ve been. We relied too much on forum moderators, whose primary role was to punish those who break rules, not to engage the community and guide conversations into productive discussions about problems. There wasn’t enough presence of the development team on forums, there wasn’t enough updates on development of UPCOMING features. We failed to communicate our position and messaging on the outside platforms such as Facebook, twitter and various online websites’
NO! Fucking NO, Sergey. That was not the problem. The problem was that you had moderators who were blatantly stamping out any dissention or criticism. And you employed companies who would aggressively protect your interests. As for your ‘UPCOMING Features’, if that is a dig at all those who criticised your lies and deception in your Steam description then you need a serious fucking reality check. No one gives a shit what your ‘upcoming’ features are when they buy a game. They buy a game for the features it currently has. But you didn’t even bill the features as ‘upcoming’ in your Steam description. You suggested they were actual and extant.
‘We chose to tune out negative reactions to the game, not paying enough attention to them – and this, again, is my fault. We chose to rely too much on numbers – percentage of refund requests, number and dynamic of our daily and monthly active users, etc. Well, in hindsight – those things probably work well for more casual games, but the hard-core PC gaming community is much different and can be very vocal about what they feel’
No, Sergey, you can’t treat ANY gaming demographic like shit and expect to walk away smelling of roses. That is not how the world works.
Anyway, Sergey, what do you propose as a solution to your ‘community management’ issues?
‘We’re changing our community management procedures and rules right now. We’re going to re-evaluate publishing and marketing team performance, and I will make sure that Hammerpoint Interactive developers will have a much stronger voice when it comes to community management and we won’t rely 100% on OP Productions’
Ah, the classic ‘it was them but we will fix it approach’. Quick business tip for you Sergey. If you have clients (those who pay your wages, which in this case are your players), and a third party that you commissioned fucks with your clients, the person who gets the full blame is you, not the third party.
‘We’re revisiting our forum policies; we’re going to bring on an additional community management team, additional moderators and we’ll train them how to respond to things properly. There will still be restrictions on harassment, trash talk, etc. But we’ll make sure that every opinion is heard. At the same time, I must also be cautious: we cannot address all issues and there cannot be only one voice. Please accept that. With hundreds of thousands of players playing, talking, chatting, voicing their strong opinions, there will always be diverging opinions. And some issues that are minor ones are sometimes brought to light by very vocal channels.’
Yeah, you do that Sergey. No one was ever asking you to address every opinion or issue ever raised. All they want is for your moderators to behave less like the fucking Gestapo.
The letter then goes on to explain what a ‘Foundation Release’ is, and explains that it does include the core features and a fully playable environment. He says that he rushed to get it done in time for the holidays, and that small indie teams like his could not get it fully finished on time for launch (to which I would reply that you should not have fucking well launched it then, should you sunshine?) and then laments that negative opinion is always the strongest.
He finishes by stating that Hammerpoint are going to be taking more of a role in the publishing side of things (again subtly blaming OP Productions for the problems), and then asks for forgiveness and looks forward to the future or some such. I was sick of his bullshit by this point.
So there we are. Sergey: your apology is hollow, vapid, marketing, PR-Speak bullshit. Using terms like ‘failed to effectively communicate’ just reeks of avoidance through language. You may claim in the letter to take responsibility, but you then go on to push the blame onto someone else. Nor do you ever directly address the issues that gamers have actually had with WarZ, the moderators, developers and publishers, like so:
Aggressive Moderators and Over-Use of Ban-Hammer
Refusal of Refunds in TOS
Threats of Legal Action
Theft of Promo Material
Lies and Deception, especially around Steam description
Addressed: In a Roundabout sort of way
Users Getting Banned for No Reason
Blacklisting Gamers who got Refunds
Being an Unremittingly Huge, Weeping Disgrace to Video Games
Seriously Sergey, this is the Worst Apology Ever.
MAD MACK WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE VARIOUS COMMUNITIES ON REDDIT FOR MUCH OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE. IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PROPERLY CREDITED, OR HAVE EVEN MORE WARZ WOES TO SHARE, THEN PLEASE EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org