DayZ is an important example to game developers and publishers in how important community creativity is. It's a shining example of why many PC games should include and support modding features. DayZ began as a free mod based on Bohemia Interactive's ARMA 2 but it ended up being more popular, more talked about, and now has more potential than the actual ARMA series.
As a result, when DayZ mod creator Dean "Rocket" Hall decided he was going to attempt to make a standalone DayZ game, Bohemia picked him and the IP up. A standalone DayZ game is already available on PC via Steam Early Access, and just yesterday we learned that it's on its way to the PlayStation 4 as well. The announcement was made during Sony's PlayStation conference at Gamescom 2014 in Cologne, Germany and the reactions are justifiably mixed, even downright concerning for many.
Firstly, Dean Hall went on record in the past always saying there was potential for DayZ to come to consoles, and really started to hint that it was happening earlier this year. Hall had met with both Microsoft and Sony to talk about Xbox One and PS4 potential, respectively, and was simply unimpressed with Xbox's indie support. That's a sadly familiar story for a lot of indie devs when it comes to Xbox. So, it's only partially surprising, really.
We won't spend too much time on this older Tweet:
DayZ launched last year in its highly problematic pre-alpha state. Even to this day when turning on the game, a warning window pops up explaining how broken the experience will be for users. Still, it costs a whopping $30 to buy this broken product, and still , many of the advertised features and major updates have yet to be realized. There's a whole other larger issue about Early Access games being able to make money off of promises that don't need to be kept, but that's not the focus of this article.
DayZ's development is simply behind schedule and judging by forum comments on DayZ's Steam discussion section, there's a clear sense of frustration and disappointment for many users who feel the game won't come close to delivering when it releases in full in 2015. After jumping into the game yesterday evening after the PS4 announcement, my first time playing DayZ in eight months, I completely understand. It's not pretty. It doesn't help me hearing about another version of a game when the core version is in a state like this, "early access" label or otherwise. It's this feeling that's sending negative ripples throughout the DayZ community. Here's Dean Hall fighting back on Reddit last night:
Adding to the bigger picture problem of a potentially broken, non-optimized, non-polished title potentially coming to PS4 (for a steep price given its quality), the man spearheading the game is not even sticking with it. Dean Hall announced that's he's leaving DayZ at the end of the year, essentially abandoning his project after being the face of it, hyping it up, touting future plans and features for the game. He'll still be somewhat involved, but he is leaving.
With a few million players already investing in DayZ (2 million+ by May) based on what was promised, Dean Hall leaving, and the game now unveiled to be coming to PS4, where's the actual need to finish DayZ, and finish it in a timely fashion? According to Hall responding to comments on the DayZ Reddit page, there's a "separate team" working on the PS4 version. He ultimately sees it as a good thing for everyone, even PC gamers. From his Reddit responses:
Console versions gave us the opportunity to do more things than we originally planned, such as DX11 and 64bit support to name only a few.
PC gamers will get all the benefits the console gamers get, for free.
It also guarantees that we must hit a particular performance target.
It's a win win scenario
The caution is well founded. The way I see it, this is a guarantee we have to meet performance standards now. And it sees the PC leading, innovating, with he refined result trickling down to console gamers. A win win all round
Earlier this year, Hall did warn that a console version of DayZ could be quite different, and we expect it will be. It wouldn't be a great console experience to turn on DayZ and not know where you are in a large landscape, forced to work for 10 minutes to a town, just to not find anything or die. That could all change and be made more user-friendly in terms of getting weapons, equipment and getting into combat scenarios. PC is still the lead platform. With all this confusing dev speak of a "new renderer," nothing really matters except what players are playing. We don't know when DayZ is moving out of Alpha but it was supposed to be sometime next year. Hall said in the past it would probably take around 12 months to make a console port, but given the nature of DayZ's development it could be a while longer (2016) or it could be rushed as another not-ready-for-shipping cash grab on PS4 like the PC version was.
The curious part of this is how it's currently only coming to PS4 out of the consoles when Sony has their own DayZ clone on the way in the form of H1Z1, which is coming later this year for PC and PS4 as well and is really a direct competitor. Will they be splitting the consumer pool with H1Z1 and DayZ both available?
Does the PC version need to be revamped way before bringing it to other platforms? Are you confident that DayZ will ever be "completed"? Share your thoughts in the comments!
DayZ is currently available via Steam Early Access. No PS4 release date information has been revealed yet.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.