10 years on, one of my favorite co-op games Project Zomboid is... not on sale, again

Project Zomboid
(Image credit: The Indie Stone)

It's been a little while since the inception of Steam's Remote Play Together feature. It's meant that players far and wide can induct their besties into an essentially free session of any local multiplayer game that has the feature enabled, provided at least one of you has bought the game and has it installed. This week, Steam is celebrating the much loved feature with yet another Remote Play Together Fest, and one of my favorite co-op survival games of all time has made it onto the front page: Project Zomboid by The Indie Stone.

Still in early access after 10 years, this is a game that needs no introduction for zombie survival fans. It's quietly one of the most played and well-received isometric base-builders out there, thanks to its incredible depth, detail and server setting customizability. At this point, it's kinda stretching the limits of what it means to be featured in Steam's so called "Next Fest", since it's already been out for so long. But that's only partially why I'm here.

"One thing you might have noticed across both Next Fest and Remote Play Together Fest is that there's something different about the Project Zomboid page."

One thing you might have noticed across both Next Fest and Remote Play Together Fest is that there's something different about the Project Zomboid page. Where all the other games are either offering free short demos or the full game with a deep discount, Project Zomboid is stuck at the same price. Looks a little out of place, right? If you're wondering why you've not seen Project Zomboid on sale in a while, there's something you should know concerning how the developers feel about sales.

Up at the top of the game's Steam page sits the Early Access Game header, with an expandable FAQ entitled "What the developers have to say". Right at the bottom there, you'll notice a little section detailing whether the game will ever be priced differently during and after Early Access. I guess they get that question a lot, huh?

Here's what they have to say for themselves: "Due to our commitment to making sure early adopters get the cheapest price in appreciation of their early support PZ will never appear in sales that take it below the original alpha price of £5/$8," that is, not until long after the game comes out of Early Access. That's because the game "will likely be £5, $8 more expensive once we hit 1.0." Take it or leave it, I suppose.

Dead right

Project Zomboid

(Image credit: The Indie Stone)

So the logic here is that, while the game is in its 10+ year development stage, "early" adopters can get a good price thanks to the game never being on sale.  I'm not saying that makes no sense, but it doesn't not make sense if you catch my drift. Keeping it in early access at this point feels like an excuse not to put it on sale.

And yet, despite the devs' backwards logic, Project Zomboid will always hold a special place in my heart. It's a fantastic game with plenty of map to explore, lore to unlock, and skills to build as you face down the hordes.

The thing to remember, and the thing that the Remote Play Together Fest has reminded me of, is that you don't have to pay full price if you have a friend. I don't, personally. But you may well have someone equally enamoured with shooting zombies who is willing to split the cost with you, given that they can just piggyback into the game when you fire it up. Because, let's be honest, tackling the zombie apocalypse is no fun by yourself. 

Half the enjoyment of Project Zomboid comes from sharing the burden of running a safehouse with friends. Even if it does turn into some den of iniquity where everyone's hoarding weapons on the kitchen table and stripping to their underwear to get in their daily squats. 

With friends, you can have someone at home cooking dinner for you while you go out fishing. Someone to come home to and talk about your hard day of getting swiped at by brainless flesh-eaters. Think of asking a friend to pay half as an investment in your non-zombified future… until the moment the silent bubbling of pot-on-stove gives way to spinning wheels, and you realize your bud has just attracted a huge hoard of zombies to your door. 

Swings and roundabouts, really.

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Katie Wickens
Freelance writer

Katie is a freelance writer covering everything from video games to tabletop RPGs. She is a designer of board games herself and a former Hardware Writer over at PC Gamer.