Fresh meat: is the Zombie MMO a dead genre?

Dead Frontier 2 early access launch

Zombies go by a crazy amount of names such as Zeds, Monsters, Geeks, Walkers, Biters or anything else you can come up with. The list of possible names is infinite because nicknames to these creatures are made by the public and not by a dictionary. No matter what name you know them by – the idea of these mindless corpses chasing down the innocent to eat their brains is one of the most hyped up topics of recent years. The topic is pretty ancient in idea but only recently has received the attention in which it deserves; sparking games like The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series, DayZ, Infestation: Survivor Stories, H1Z1, Dead Frontier – the list goes on and on. With all the publicity and hype that zombies have, and the success of The Walking Dead as a television series and as a single player game, why hasn't there been many MMOs taking advantage of the hype train that has been making waves in the market?


From a market standpoint, maybe it’s because the idea of a zombie MMO is, in a sense, uncharted waters; maybe it’s because it’s a static idea where the genre doesn’t make one MMO stand out from the next like with a fantasy setting. Maybe it’s because companies aren’t quite sure how to monetize it well. Nonetheless, with the recent release of H1Z1 in early access by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) there has been even more attention regarding zombie MMOs within the survival genre. It’s no surprise that another MMO for a zombie survival game has emerged after DayZ, a mod for the popular game Arma II, evolved into the first widely known successful zombie based MMO from Bohemia Interactive. Boasting top seller on Steam since it was released, DayZ isn’t a game to take lightly.

SOE has publicly recognized DayZ as a respectable game claiming at multiple instances how much they support its development as well as its brilliance. When asked what sets them apart from DayZ, the answer was “They have made a brilliant game (first I might add). They have a great vision for it and can count myself and most of the people on our team as fans and contributors.” said John Smedley, CEO of SOE. With the respect they hold for DayZ, looking at the two games side by side you can tell how H1Z1 has some pretty large influences from DayZ. I mean, H1Z1’s twitter even follows DayZ, but even though there are some pretty obvious similarities, H1Z1 claims that they are going to take it to the next level with the same engine used for PlanetSide 2, another game owned by SOE with extreme success. The next few months will be extremely crucial to H1Z1 to see how it will stand against its competitors and we at FreeMMOStation will definitely be keeping our eyes on it and be bringing information to our readers as we learn more about the game.

the walking dead

One game that I feel must be mentioned as a PC gamer, even though it is not exclusive to PC, is The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game, this game series has had stellar reviews for both seasons released, going into 2015. The game may be single player, but has definitely impacted the gaming community showing how important your choices can be made to be in a game. The reason for mentioning this game is that I believe it has definitely made players crave games that can be influenced by each individual player more than the standard MMO. A world that can be evolved over time due to the community is the environment that is starting to be sought after by gamers more and more. How interesting would it be if in a survival MMO with zombies the NPCs (non-player characters) could be impacted by the world changing around them? It doesn’t have to be huge changes but static characters are starting to become duller as we develop greater games and story is starting to feel lost within the newer MMOs. That being said, it is a single player game which makes it easier to achieve this feat but for those of you wanting more zombie apocalypse games that have choices that impact the story don’t fret, Telltale Games is expected to release the next season to their series early this year.

So far 2015 looks like we have a lot to look forward to as gamers and lovers of the undead with the addition of H1Z1, updates to DayZ, and the next season for The Walking Dead: A Telltale Series. As many of us are excited about the games being added and updated there were some major let downs in terms of zombie MMOs that left us all extremely disappointed from over-hyped expectations, greedy choices, or lack of content updates. Remember, one of the biggest upsets to players is feeling as though a company doesn’t care about them. Two of these games are Dead Frontier and Infestation: Survivor Stories.

To be blunt, Dead Frontier, a game by Creaky Corpse Ltd. is a browser based game and not going to be able to achieve what a downloadable game has to offer. However, although this game has been around for quite a while now (released in 2008) it has had many promises to its community where these promises never ended up being followed through. The game was released as a top down grinding shoot’em-up zombie killing game with promises of a lot of content updates as the game ages. If one was to enter the game now they would find it to be little more than a flash game that has many pop-ups trying to get you to pay. This game was a huge letdown for many as 2008 was when gamers started seeing a rise in zombie genres and this promised a fun MMO experience.


A more well known title for the genre would be Infestation: Survivor Stories developed by OP Productions. If you haven’t heard of this game, you may consider yourself lucky. This game saw the opportunity to make money quick with the rise in popularity that DayZ (the mod) held and rushed this game out onto the market. At first glance the game seems decent and could be fun to some but as someone plays for themselves you begin to realize it feels more like a job to push yourself to keep playing and not as much of an enjoyable game. Bugs, cheating, and a blatant community of immature players make the game a toxic experience. The game was originally released to Steam under the name WarZ but due to false advertisement and blatant managerial errors the game was quickly taken off of Steam and had to change its name. The company is considered by many to be fraudulent in nature. Even though the game still receives a lot of negativity, the developers claim that they will be fixing the game continuously and also be releasing another similar game that is more polished and completed. Will this possibly save their reputation as a company? Only time will tell, as for me, I have no expectations anymore from them.

Okay – we know there are some promises, there were some negatives, and some successes, but, what sets this genre apart? It’s simple: Freedom. And lots of it. Survival games have been around for a long time but survival games where every choice you make could be your last such as; choosing to trust another player who is really just waiting to stab you in the back to steal your gun, or deciding to loot a hospital that looks like the windows have been broken into already with the sounds of yelling undead on the dark streets of an abandoned city have not been around for that long. The atmosphere is eerie, it keeps you on the edge of your seat, and it makes you paranoid of every decision. It makes you question who you really trust, your best friend may even be a threat to you if you get too immersed within the game. The list is never-ending because these games allow you to do whatever you want, when you want. You make your own path and own reasons to keep playing. You can take part in crafting a base, or maybe hunt zombies all day to help out other travelers that may come through the area, or maybe even set up a trap to kill those same travelers for their loot.

All in all, there are a lot of positives and negatives surrounding the zombie MMO genre. We have a lot to be excited about, and a lot to be sour towards. Each year we seem to see pretty awesome leaps in terms of development for these games and what to expect. I personally am most excited to see what possible ways the world around me may change depending on the players inhabiting it. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it… I want to be able to at least see it when I find where it fell, and then maybe hunt the group that cut the tree down in the first place to see how friendly they are.

What are you hoping to see or most excited for?

By Michael Hack

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