Reading a forum thread talking about DayZ hate — not a thread of DayZ hate but people talking about why people hate on DayZ. The OP admitted that the game had its issues, but he’s had a lot of fun in it, and people should know that it’s an alpha/early access game and that, to put it mildly, shit’s gonna be broken. But a lot has improved, and there’s a lot more to come, so what’s the big deal? Why all the hate?
I came up with an analogy. Suppose an alien chef lands on Earth. He has a fantastic dish, called zorgenblop. It’s like nothing any Earthling has ever tasted. It’s fantastic! People can’t get enough zorgenblop!
But there’s a problem. You see, the chef’s restaurant is in this little hole in the wall joint in a lousy part of town. The roof leaks, the prices are outrageous, the lines stretch on forever, it takes you an hour just to get to the damn place because traffic is abysmal… at some point, you think to yourself, “Man, I could really go for some zorgenblop tonight. But I don’t want to put up with all the crap it’ll take to get it. I’ll just order Chinese.”
The chef, of course, wants your business. He promises that he’s going to open more locations, that he’ll bring on more staff to reduce wait times, that he’ll fix the roof, and so on. And, to be honest, he has improved the place since he landed. It’s definitely a better dining experience. But sometimes it’s just not worth the hassle. You’ll go back when he deals with all the issues…
…unless, in the meantime, someone else opens up a zorgenblop restaurant nearer to where you live. Or maybe they offer delivery. Or lower prices. Then the original zorgenblop chef better figure things out, and fast or he’ll be out of business before you can say “gorfludek” (that’s alien for “I’m f***ed”).
Like zorgenblop, DayZ came out of nowhere and was an instant hit. From the mod days, it had numerous issues, and it still has many a year after the launch of standalone, but they’ve all been met with the defense of “it’s only alpha.” People are willing to put up with the issues because of the greatness of the experience.
But what if you could have the great experience without the hassle? Would you loyally stick with the old zorgenblop restaurant? And even if the original cleans up his act, will you go back to him after you’ve gotten used to a new zorgenblop restaurant?
When we asked what people thought might be the next big theme in gaming on the MMOBomb podcast a couple weeks ago, someone thought survival gaming might be an emerging genre. He could be right. There are already several offerings, mostly from independent studios, and H1Z1 from SOE just around the corner. Also, if you look at Blizzard’s recent MO of taking popular genres and applying their own spin, as they’ve done with Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch, one has to think that they’re taking a good, long look at the survival genre and going, “Hmmm.”
DayZ could be the EverQuest of survival games. EQ was the first big MMORPG breakout hit, and spawned plenty of imitators, but it was eventually surpassed by a more polished product in WoW. It still exists and still has its diehard enthusiasts, but it’s a drop in the MMO industry bucket these days, way down from its peak. I see a lot of DayZ lifers in streams who shrug off the notion that anything could surpass it, but I’d imagine EverQuest fans — and even people who didn’t play the game but just observed the trend from the outside — felt the same way in 2001 or so. It’s the biggest and best MMO and nothing will ever do better. I’ll never leave it.
I’m not saying that H1Z1 will be the WoW-equivalent in this comparison, that it’ll “kill” DayZ, but if it’s even reasonably well done, it’ll be serious competition. It doesn’t matter that SOE has more personnel and a bigger budget or that DayZ‘s still in early access (which H1Z1 will also be in, though my limited time playing, it seems considerably more polished than DayZ); people will play, and pay for, the better game, whichever that is.
In the MMO world, you can see a version of this all the time when a new game launches. There’s no way it could have the same amount of content to match World of Warcraft, not to mention the server stability and general quality of life, yet there will inevitably be comparisons to WoW and what that has that this new game doesn’t/needs to have. Defenders of the new game will point out the obvious inequity, that the devs are probably looking into adding that thing that the other games have, that it’s on the development calendar, but that doesn’t change what’s available right now. People are more likely to spend money and time on what they can get now rather than what’s coming down the line.
That’s the boogeyman of early access, and DayZ could be the poster child for it. The alpha has existed in a world without serious competition for over a year now, and even with that massive head start, a lot of people are being put off by it. DayZ offers a fantastic world to play around in, but, if the thread that spawned this post is any indication, I’d wager that a good number of people currently choose not to play in it because of its issues. It doesn’t matter if it’s technically not released yet. If you put your unfinished product out there for anyone to access, it’s going to be judged, and possibly rejected.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some leftover zorgenblop to heat up.