The War Z Responds to Criticism... By Silencing It

Hammerpoint Interactive is moderating its own forums and the Steam user forums for The War Z by removing any and all posts speaking negatively about the game. Valve is investigating claims of unfair censorship.

This story just keeps getting crazier and crazier.  The War Z is out and available, and has had enough blatantly false advertising, non-existent fine print, and morally unconcerned executives to feed more righteous gamer rage than most MMOs manage without arbitrarily killing off player characters, though Hammerpoint Interactive has been accused of banning accounts semi-randomly just to get people to buy the game again.  The semi in that statement comes from them only being accused of performing the practice on accounts with a certain amount of playing time, since those people are obviously hooked and are therefor deemed likely to simply buy the game again.

You'd think that would be enough bad press, but apparently no one bothered to tell Hammerpoint how most people, especially gamers who spend so much of their time online, feel about having their dissatisfied voices forcibly silenced.

New accusations have arisen claiming that Hammerpoint's forum moderators are actively removing any and all posts that speak critically about the game.  This isn't a new accusation when referring to their own website forum, and a company moderating out dissent on its own forum would hardly be news-worthy after some of the higher-profile companies that have done so.

Moderating dissent on Steam

That same practice when applied to Steam's forums, on the other hand, is a decidedly different story.

Players of the game (oftentimes former players) are having their unhappy postings on the Steam user forums moderated and removed by Hammerpoint's moderators.  One in particular, Kewk, has distinguished himself above the rest by compiling actual rules for the posting allowances on the forum, what topics are forbidden and result in posts being deleted, and it is an impressively telling and tyrannical list of offenses that makes it effectively impossible to express unhappiness over the game at all.

Some examples of things that you're not allowed to talk about are false advertising, refunds of any sort, moderator actions of any kind, hacking seen in-game, in-game cheating of any other sort, or posts stating that you've quit the game.

Some of these could be defensible on their own, but compiled together they paint a very ugly picture of what sort of discussion Hammerpoint is and is not willing to allow its own playerbase to indulge in.

Valve is currently investigating Hammerpoint's forum moderation, having stated in the past that users should be free to post any criticisms they want about a game.  No word yet on Valve investigating any of the blatantly false advertising claims the War Z has used.


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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.

Published Dec. 20th 2012

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