Is anyone else getting tired of the DayZ: Stand Alone copy-cat games that are appearing? It feels like every time I launch Steam I am berated with advertising for games that look a heck of a lot like the aforementioned. In particular, today we have Dead State and 7 Days to Die (in addition to DayZ) as some of the thirteen Featured Selections (Rust gets a pass but don’t look past other similar titles such as The Dead Linger, Nether, How to Survive, Project Zomboid, Castleminer Z, et al.)
If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery the DayZ team should be pretty darn flattered. Now I do not pretend to know the development time frame for these other games (perhaps some have been around for some time), however, the fact that they are being marketed here and now in a manner similar to DayZ smacks of Johnny-come-lately cash-in. The most famous case of this was in 2012 with The War Z (now titled Infestation: Survivor Stories,) a blatant ripoff of the then ARMA II Mod DayZ.
In some regard this cloning degrades a game that has not even been fully released yet. The competitors piggy-backing on not-fully-developed features and ideas takes away from the execution of DayZ and its potentiality. Why would a DayZ developer want to continue down a path already tread by an imitator? Or, for that matter, continue with an as yet unreleased idea that has been executed by a competitor, for fear that they (DayZ) would look like the clone? When every game coming down the pike is labeled with terms like crafting, survival, and scavenge we are not left with much but mimicry. Not to mention that these games are also all Early Release, as if this adds cachet.
DayZ does not have exclusive ownership on these terms but it has set the watermark through its beginnings as a Mod and now Alpha Stand Alone status and its future as a true example of ingenuity maybe stifled by lackluster competitors. As a dollar and cents example, the idea that one does not have the $29.99 for DayZ but does have the $19.99 for SurvivorX will erode the better product in terms of sales and user base in the long run is an all too true reality.
One of the great things about DayZ’s development is how open it has been in terms of garnering community feedback and showing use of features in development. I have not seen too many other games take this route and I am afraid that this refreshing transparency will be discouraged if other developers come in and loot their ideas. We are returned then to a development model of closed door secrecy and P.R. schemes of leaked screenshots to build momentum for games that are often poorly built and not out of the beta stage when they reach the consumer at $59.99.
I write as a fan of DayZ that thinks the better game is being besmirched by a lot of idea-stealing competition and that large game distribution channels such as Valve/Steam need to be mindful of promoting first class products and letting those other games first find their audience (in much the same way DayZ did) in ways that do not detract from the established brand. Let innovation, originality, and good game play win out.