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‘We did fail,’ DayZ creator opens up about regrets with his latest game

DAYZ creator, Dean Hall has opened up about the struggles with his latest game, Icarus, and the shock of going from army recruit to millionaire overnight. 

In an interview with GLHF at Gamescom 2022, one of the world’s largest gaming conventions, Hall spoke out about how he failed the community, and is looking to make things right. 


Hall found success with survival game DayZ.Credit: Bohemia Interactive Studio

Icarus, RocketWerkz’ latest survival game, released in 2021 to mixed reviews. Hall owns up to his mistakes, and talks about future changes.

Hall says: “We tried an avenue with Icarus. So it’s a session-based survival game, and we had a really mixed response — some people loved it, and some people didn’t.

“So we’re now kind of pivoting the game to have new, more of the traditional, as we call it ‘outpost’, or more traditional Ark-style. 

“The customer’s always right when it comes to matters of taste. People want that experience, you give them that experience. 

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“I am proud that we tried something. And that’s, to me, how you get experiences like DayZ — you have to try stuff. 

“But trying stuff means you have to be prepared to fail. And I think we did fail a little bit on it. 

“And that’s why we did updates every week since launch, to try and change the experience.”

Hall goes on to claim that the community feedback a small team like his can engage in, is one of the strengths of the studio.

He added: “I certainly think that’s a huge competitive strength over Bethesda or the big companies.

“We can do an interview with you and go, ‘Well, yeah, we screwed that up.’ That’s our superpower. That’s how we get better.”

Unusually, Hall compares the success of his most popular game DayZ to “dying”, saying that the whole process was disorienting.

Hall recalls the change saying: “It’s like dying, honestly. That’s how I think about it. You had your whole life before and it was just completely torpedoed. 

“Every relationship or friendship you have, it changes your whole life trajectory. I was still in the army at the time. 

“Well, that was just over. I remember one day, I think my first royalty check was $5million (£4.3million), so it was extremely disorienting. 

“And that’s why, even though maybe I messed up some of the DayZ stuff a bit, I look back and just I’m proud that I survived it without completely imploding

“It’s ridiculous to say, ‘Oh, boohoo, someone made a lot of money and changed everything.’

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“But I think of it as very much a before and after. You have to start to decide what are the things that really matter to you. And for me, it’s making games. 

“That’s why one of the games I’ve been showing here is a tiny tycoon game. Who knows how many people will really play it, but I’d be making games even if nobody paid for them.”

Written by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.

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