Even early access can turn into a nightmare. Yesterday there was a preliminary release of the Russian game Population Zero on Steam. By the evening, her ratings had slipped to a rating of 17%. What could have gone wrong?
A little history
Population Zero is the debut project of the Moscow studio Enplex Games. This is an MMO survival for PC in a sci-fi setting. The project has been in development for about four years.
During this time, the game has formed a large community by the standards of similar products. The project has more than 13 thousand participants on Discord alone. The game group in VKontakte, where the main discussion of the project takes place, has more than 11 thousand subscribers.
At the same time, Population Zero does not have the easiest development history. For a long time, the project was headed by people from Nival. However, in 2019, there was a conflict in the team. The management has changed. Neither side is ready to speak publicly about the causes of the conflict.
What happened to the release of the game?
On April 5, Population Zero was launched on Steam in the early access format. The price tag of the game in Russia was 699 rubles, in the USA — $ 29.99 (this is excluding the starting discount of 10%).
Simultaneously with the release, a wave of streams on Twitch and reviews on YouTube started. Thanks to such an advertising campaign, the number of views of the game on the first day reached 9.5 thousand, and online gaming — 2 thousand.
Dynamics of online views on Twitch and players
That’s just following numerous videos on the game’s Steam page, numerous negative reviews have gone. The project almost immediately after the start of sales received a very low rating of 17%.
Why is the game being scolded?
There are three main claims to Population Zero.
The first is to reduce the cost of the game and content for it on release. This reason for the “haight” periodically slips among the Russian-speaking Steam audience.
Two years ago, Enplex Games made it possible for a loyal audience to support the game by buying it in advance. Then the company put up for sale “Founder’s Kits”, which, in addition to the future title, included additional content and preferences. The cost of some sets was more than 5000 rubles.
According to the players, the developers promised not to sell content from these sets after the game is released. However, the following happened:
- the developer put these kits up for sale;
- their cost has fallen from 5,300 rubles to 269 rubles.
Because of this, the loyal audience of the project, who had previously financially supported the game, felt cheated.
An outraged player complains in the game group on VKontakte
Developers in the comments for App2Top.ru , as well as in communication with the audience of the game, they noted that the sets gave not only additional content. Among other “buns”, the founder’s sets also included:
- access to the test version of the game;
- the ability to invite two friends to the game;
- the ability to test the game (including in the company’s office);
- access to the final version of the game before other users;
- mention in the credits.
At the same time, the studio admits that it was a mistake to upload content from the sets. Now the developers are negotiating with Steam to remove them from the site.
The second is the lack of a cooperative mode in the game, which is positioned as a multiplayer. Most English-speaking users complain about this.
Judging by the comments, today this is one of the main and most important features for a game in this genre. They want to get it right at the start of the project, they want to play and explore a new project in the survival genre together with friends.
Population Zero, judging by the reviews, does not give this. Although some reviews indicate that there is still such an opportunity in the game. However, for a cooperative, you must first upgrade your account.
The third common complaint is the state of the project as a whole. Almost all players report: the game constantly crashes, freezes, lags and just slows down. This is not only written on the Steam pages, but also talked about on the air. I watched several domestic Twitch streams, in each they scolded the state of the project.
Does the game really deserve a low rating?
In fact, rather no than yes. For early access, this level of quality is acceptable. Such a launch format just exists so that developers can “run in” the project before a full-fledged release, bring it to the right level.
Where does “haight” come from?
There may have been a marketing error. Instead of launching the game in “quiet mode” and then working on a loyal organic project, the developers launched a large-scale advertising campaign that brought a wide range of users. The latter were not ready to put up with the state of the project.
Now the rating of the game on Steam is growing. At the time of writing, it is 37%. However, on forums dedicated to the game, users claim that some of the positive reviews may be purchased: there is only one game in the profiles of some players who have positively evaluated Population Zero.
One of the reviews that was left by a user with one game in the profile
It will be difficult for the team to get out of this situation. In addition, if Enplex Games really resorts to the practice of purchase reviews, it has a risk of losing its Steam account.
According to the developers themselves, they are now collecting data to “understand what the players are worried about.” Then the team plans to deal with the broken functionality and publish a roadmap.
I would like to hope that the history of the project will end safely and by the time of a full-fledged release, the developers will be able to polish it.
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