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Could zombie MMO H1Z1 be Sony's DayZ?

on 12 April 2014

DayZ, Bohemia Interactive's PC exclusive, has stood as the top open-world zombie apocalypse sim for a while, so far selling 1.7 million copies in its current alpha phase. This seems to have caught the attention of developers who now want to make their own installment in the genre, like Rust by Facepunch Studios, The Dead Linger by Sandswept Studios, and Infestation: Survivor Stories by Hammerpoint Interactive.

Although some of these games mimic DayZ's gameplay and systems for an attempt at its runaway success, some actually evolved the genre considerably--like Rust, with its DayZ survival elements and Minecraft-esque building. But no matter how good these games are, none so far have reached the success of DayZ.

That might change with Sony's installment in the genre, H1Z1. It's open-world zombie survival with a twist: H1Z1 will be a free-to-play MMO.

In a recent Gamer Talk Live, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley showed off the game while explaining its backstory:

"The H1Z1 virus devastated mankind and left nothing but death and destruction in its wake--and a world nearly empty of human life, where the remnants of humanity are in a fight against extinction against those infected with the virus. It's been 15 years since H1Z1 was first encountered and what's left of the world before it is overrun with the Infected. Humanity has been reduced to hiding in the shadows, searching desperately for food and water and anything that can help to survive even for another day. But the Infected aren't the only dangers in the world. Everyday life in the apocalypse means dealing with all kinds of wild animals and the brutality of other survivors, as well as finding your next meal and a safe place to sleep."

He also revealed the game will release on PC and hinted heavily toward a PS4 release.

Sony Online Entertainment is a large development with oodles of experience in the MMO and free-to-play markets. The potential for multiplatform support is huge, as any MMO in the MMO-starved console market could be a gamechanger. And SOE is bringing them by the basketful: EverQuest Next, the third installment in the legendary MMORPG franchise, is coming to PS4 down the line, and PlanetSide 2 is right around the corner. PlanetSide 2's Forgelight engine, in particular, will allow for the game to have a massive map and thousands of simultaneous players. Meanwhile, the free-to-play model has proven popular with PlayStation gamers--experiences like DUST 514 and DC Universe Online abound, with the latter seeing a huge boost in player numbers and revenue after the free-to-play switch.

H1Z1 will release for Steam early access in four to six weeks at $20, but will take up the free-to-play mantle later on. We can almost certainly expect a PS4 announcement soon.

So, do you think H1Z1 will do better then DayZ, be its equal, or fail to match its success? Let us know in the comments below!