NZ cannibalism adventure game a ‘terrifying success’ in China

The Christchurch businessman behind a video game in which players can cannibalise their friends says it is causing him sleepless nights.

But Digital Confectioners director Sam Evans​ is not awake because he is plagued by nightmares, but because he needs to be on call when the game is live in China.

Evans and his game studio created cannibalistic adventure game Dread Hunger with the goal of getting about 10,000 players in the United States.

But much to his surprise, Dread Hunger became a hit in China, where more than 260,000 people play the game every day, mostly between the hours of 12.30am and 5am New Zealand time.

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GamerCityNews  NZ cannibalism adventure game a 'terrifying success' in China

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Digital Confectioners director Sam Evans says the surprise success of his gory cannibalistic survival game in China has brought with it ‘monstrous challenges from every angle’.

Dread Hunger is a survival game set on a ship of arctic explorers in the late 1800s. Players build fires to stay warm, fend off wolves, and hunt for food, including if they wish, the human flesh of their shipmates.

The game is not for the faint of heart, with a description on the website stating players can “pick up severed heads and limbs and use them to kill”.

But the game in its gory glory has become a huge success in China through word of mouth alone.

Evans​ says however the surprise success of Dread Hunger has brought with it some “monstrous challenges from every angle” for the Christchurch company.

“Cybersecurity, architecture of our business, staffing, every angle of our business has been tested by this,” Evans​ says.

Because of the popularity of the game, it has become a target for DDoS attacks, an unsophisticated hacking method in which hackers attempt to crash a website or server by flooding it with excess traffic.

But the most frustrating element is hackers attempting to find “cheats” in the game, which they then sell on to players at a cost.

Cheats are discovered when hackers find a loophole in the game code they can exploit to give players an unfair advantage. Evans says the popularity of the game in China has meant several companies are in an “arms race” to make cheats for Dread Hunger.

“The cheating business is quite lucrative, people buy a subscription to a cheating service for around US$50 (NZ$74) per month. The companies making cheats often have over 100 employees, and they are very dedicated and very good,” he says. “But we are working on it beating them.”

But among the challenges have been some incredible successes. Dread Hunger has just passed 1 million copies sold, a figure Evans called “insane”.

“We would have considered 10,000 a big success. But this is a terrifying success.”

GamerCityNews  NZ cannibalism adventure game a 'terrifying success' in China

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The huge success in the Chinese market has meant Digital Confectioners has had to completely shift the way it markets and develops its game, Dread Hunger.

The entire way through the pre-launch stages of the game, the projected Asian market was less than 1 per cent of the total. Now it is almost the company’s entire market.

“We just did not see this coming. We are almost not in charge any more, we are just following and supporting the game. Trying to give our customers a great experience.”

Evans said the Chinese market forced the business to make a shift in the way it operates, from providing a product to a service.

“The American market largely treats games like a product. They buy the game, they play the game on average 10-15 hours over a few weeks, then they move on.

“But in China when they find a game they like, they play it for hundreds of hours, for years and years,” he says. “This forced us to treat the game like a service. We now have to focus on continual development and regularly updating the game to add more cool features over time.”

The game was almost not made at all, because New Zealand investors were not willing to put down the money needed.

“We were talking to large investors like ACC, who said the biggest they could do was $500,000 parsed out over several years. To build a game like this, that is simply nowhere near enough.”

Because of this, Dread Hunger was built in partnership, with about half of the money coming from Digital Confectioners’ own coffers, and the other half from US-based game development firm Slowdrive.

Looking ahead, Evans​ is hoping to develop Dread Hunger from a PC-only game, to gaming consoles. But he admits it is hard to focus on other projects when you have “200,000 people beating down your door every night wanting to play your game”.

“But at the end of the day, these are good problems that you hope to have,” he says.

This news is republished from another source. You can check the original article here

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