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Sony Online Entertainment started selling its massively multiplayer zombie-survival game H1Z1 on Steam yesterday. Today, the company has offered to give people their money back.

John Smedley, the president of Sony Online Entertainment (the computer-gaming division of Sony), hopped onto the H1Z1 community on Reddit today to address fan concerns over what many are calling “pay to win” options. Smedley says that players who have a problem with the game can email the company to get a refund. The offer is only for people who purchased H1Z1 before 10:30 a.m. Pacific time today.

Gamers are angry with the publisher after finding out that it is possible to pay for in-game airdrops that could potentially contain weapons and ammo. This goes against some of SOE’s previous statements that H1Z1 would only sell cosmetic upgrades but not items that would make your character more powerful that everyone else. This zombie game is available to download as an early-access test on Steam for $20, and it is the top-selling game on the service right now.

We’ve asked SOE for a comment.


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“If you feel like the airdrops are an issue for you, you may immediately request a refund to,” Smedley wrote on Reddit. “This offer applies ’til Monday, and it applies only to people who have purchased the game as of 10:30 a.m. Pacific today.”

Smedley says that SOE is processing the refunds itself instead of going through Steam, so it could take one to two days before you get your money back.

H1Z1 is an open-world game similar to the extremely popular DayZ. Players inhabit a world with one another and must scrounge for weapons, food, and other resources. That human dynamic makes for a compelling game in which players must figure out who they can trust and who they must avoid. The capability to pay to get better gear could potentially upset this balance and turn H1Z1 into an ecosystem where those who pay always have the advantage.

The launch is quickly turning into a major headache for Sony Online Entertainment. An image that illustrates the perceived “bait and switch” is the top post on Reddit. It features headlines from April that explicitly quote Smedley saying the game will not have any “pay to win” elements.

“We are not interested in selling weapons,” Smedley wrote last year. “Weapons are only acquired by crafting or exploring and finding one. We are not selling power.”

Earlier this morning, prior to offering the refunds, Smedley defended H1Z1 and countered the claims that gamers were not warned of the ability to spend money on in-game power-ups.

“In terms of us not being honest about it — [that is] untrue to an extreme,” he wrote. “Quoting an 8 month-old Reddit post after numerous streams and interviews where we’ve been quite public, and putting it front and center in our ‘What to expect’ document, which was right on the purchase page just makes this [criticism blatantly unfair], in my opinion.”

Even if it is unfair, players have made it clear that they are unhappy with the game, and SOE is now acting quickly to ensure the long-term health of its latest release.

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