Sony Online Entertainment, like many developers of MMOGs, is a rather cagey developer. Par the course tends to be to keep everything close to your chest, design decisions, customization options, story and monetization. This trend is disappearing. It’s partly the drive everything more accessible – see the F2P genre – a touch of diversifying yourself from the crowd and a splash of themepark MMOGs no longer being the favored genre darling – see MOBAs.
H1Z1 is not a themepark MMOG. SOE gives you a living world full of zombies, items, crafting, wildlife and weather. This lets players step into a title more akin to a create your own adventure. Because SOE isn’t attempting to tell you a story, to force some moral or ethical questions or decisions down your throat, the company needs players to test its systems. That’s why Jimmy Whisenhunt was sure to point out that H1Z1 is quite possibly the earliest gamers have seen an SOE title because “It’s so hard to produce a true sandbox experience” without players. Lots of them.
The sandbox title remains in early alpha testing. We’ll be on the lookout for beta access codes for the community.