DayZ zombie-survival mod hits 500,000 players

Just like the zombie viruses that its gameplay is based on, DayZ has gone viral, attracting a whopping500,000 userssince its debut earlier this year.

The game has received widespread praise from fans and critics alike, with GamesRadar's sister site PC Gamer calling it one of the most important things to happen in PC gaming in 2012. And that was a couple months and a couple hundred thousand users ago.

For those uninitiated, DayZ is a hands-off open world survival game in which players awaken on the beach of a fictional ex-Soviet republic called Chernarus. The mission is simply to survive, but that's complicated by A) the presence of flesh eating zombies and B) a permanent death mechanic that causes you to lose everything and start from scratch if killed.

It's that permanent death which has cause some to call it one of the scariest games ever made. Not just because of the zombies, but also because of other unscrupulous players trying to make their way in the world who will shoot you in the face for a can of beans.

It's a mod based off Arma 2, which makes its runaway success even more surprising. This isn't the type of game you download off Steam and start playing in seconds. It's a process with many steps that has proven difficult for some players. Though this process has gotten much easier since launch.

We've got a feeling DayZ is just getting started. Zombies have proven to still be insanely popular, and the word continues to spread about this game through word-of-mouth accounts of the zany things that happen to players in that game (most gamers have probably already heard breathless accounts from friends.) If its rapid rise in popularity is any indication, we could be looking at 2012's Minecraft right now.

Watch the trailer below:

Andrew Groen

Andrew is a freelance video game journalist, writing for sites like Wired and GamesRadar. Andrew has also written a book called EMPIRES OF EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online.