Often considered the horsemen of the apocalypse. To see the tags “Early Access, Open World, Survival, Crafting” on a store page is a terrifying thought. We’ve seen a massive increase with open world games in general in our current market. But when you combine these elements together you tend to get a bad feeling in your stomach.
Back in 2011 this would have been an exciting set of genres to hear about. Minecraft was just becoming popular and people wanted to see these kind of games at the forefront of video games. However we asked for too much, Minecraft clones popped out quicker than you could sell out to Microsoft. This was not the ideal world we had asked for.
In 2012, only a year after the exploding popularity of games like Minecraft. Dean Hall created a mod for Bohemia Interactive’s military simulator, Arma 2. DayZ would be a huge success and spawn a hundred YouTube videos about the zombie infested island of Chernarus. It was a simple concept, the player would wake up on a beach with no means of survival besides maybe a flashlight. You would have to scavenge buildings and a 225 Km2 Environment filled with zombies and plenty of other players. The Zombies soon became an after thought as the biggest enemy in this game was surviving. That and 30 other people who could have the tendency to be complete assholes.
DayZ soon turned into a social environment where people would fit a certain role in the world. People who liked to kill other players would be rewarded with a bandit costume to make it clear that they were to be feared. If you were a nice guy and punished bandits, you would become a hero and people would recognise you for that. Once you died the character you played as would be permanently dead, potentially putting an end to someone you played for the last 2 months if you were that much of a hermit. DayZ was successful enough to spawn a standalone game in early access. Which is where we get to the fun bit. DayZ standalone first hit steam in December 2013, and to this day nearly 4 years later, the game remains unfinished. This is where the story gets a bit depressing.
Ironically, all within 7 days of each other, 7 Days to Die and Rust also released in December 2013. DayZ would be the loser out of the trio as today it sits at a rating of Mostly Negative and only 1000 users currently playing. Rust stands on top with 20k currently on a score of Mostly Positive. Despite the varied success between these games, one thing remains constant. They all still carry the Early access tag still on their store page. It’s also likely you’re gonna find these tags on them too.
Extra points if you can find a game like that with the Zombie tag also attached. All 3 games play differently and carry different gameplay elements, yet they have a shared stigma of bad thoughts. It would have been fine if these 3 were the only games to be released with these tags and gameplay mechanics. DayZ would be the social zombie game, Rust would be a crafting pvp adventure and 7 Days would be a much more intense survival experience. However since that day we’ve seen more and more games fill up this unnecessary void of open world survival games. Even triple A games would jump on the fad soon enough and make an open world a huge gimmick in our current industry. It was cool when Rockstar did it but now it’s a bit much guys.
Having some trouble remember specific games that match this formula? How about The Forest, Ark:Survival Evolved, Unturned, H1Z1, Conan Exiles, The Culling and Playerunknowns Battlegrounds. Some of these games are more successful and a lot older than some others. But when we hear someone describe them to us, Survival is always brought up, and as soon as you see the early access tag it’s enough to make you click off entirely. I do feel that some of these games play very differently to each other and are actually very good. I just feel that the pile of games is getting a bit too high and it’s killing the genre entirely.
Combined with early access the message to gamer is that these games will likely be abandoned or never finished. The Culling was a very successful game when it came out, however through updates to the core gameplay the game is now abandoned and worthless. That’s £15 that essentially doesn’t exist anymore. When this happens to one of the games it puts the entire system at risk of loosing players. Developers need to use early access sometimes, I get that.
Developers also need to make their game’s unique or stand out against this bad stigma of early access. Playerunknown battleground seems to be the most popular and new game at the moment and is doing remarkably well, topping the twitch and steam charts. If the developers can keep this game moving at a steady pace without alienating its core fanbase, I think they could kill off a lot of the older survival games while kicking up everyone else to make a complete game that doesn’t feature 2 mechanics and 22fps.
It’s a shame, I was madly in love with DayZ when the standalone came out, but then I was playing an unfinished game for 2 years. There was no steady frequency of updates and changes to keep things interesting. After that I never wanted to touch any game that sounded exactly like it no matter what it was like. It could be a completely different type of game but the fact it was early access would scare me away. Maybe I could get into Battlegrounds if it beats out the bad air surrounding the industry. It’s also fair to say that the entire early access system needs reworking to punish those who use it to make a quick buck before abandoning the project. I hope I’ve brought some faith into your brain for the genre, and encourage you look at Battlegrounds to see if it can hold your interest.