The short answer is yes – the popular zombie survival game DayZ does offer free options across PC and Xbox. In this in-depth guide, we‘ll cover the various ways to play DayZ at no cost, look at paid versions, compare to similar games, and ultimately determine if it‘s worth buying.
Free DayZ Options
First, let‘s summarize how to play DayZ for free:
PC (Steam): DayZ is temporarily free from May 21 to May 25, 2020. Just visit the Steam page and click "Install Game" to own it permanently.
Xbox (Game Pass): Xbox Game Pass members can install DayZ at no extra cost on Xbox consoles or PC. Requires an active subscription.
So if you act fast, you can start playing DayZ completely free on multiple platforms. Below we‘ll look closer at these offers and if ultimately DayZ warrants its $49.99 asking price.
Diving Deeper into Xbox Game Pass
Since Game Pass is likely the longer-term free option, let‘s examine its DayZ offering more closely:
What is Game Pass? Xbox Game Pass grants access to over 100 downloadable games across Xbox and PC for a monthly subscription starting at $9.99. Think "Netflix for games."
How many subscribers? As of January 2022, Game Pass had over 25 million subscribers according to Microsoft. It‘s proven very popular.
What‘s included? The library spans major releases like Halo Infinite to indie games. New Xbox exclusives are added at launch. DayZ was added on May 7, 2020.
How much does DayZ cost otherwise? Bought individually, DayZ normally costs $49.99 on Xbox. So access via Game Pass provides huge savings.
What are the downsides? You lose access if your membership lapses. And some DLCs aren‘t included like the Livonia map.
Overall, Game Pass lets you play the full DayZ experience for a fraction of the price. It‘s an incredible value if you were already considering buying DayZ.
How Popular is DayZ Currently?
Let‘s look at some key stats on DayZ‘s player population and sales:
5 million+ copies sold on PC as of December 2018 according to the developers
Over 150,000 concurrent players on Steam at its peak in 2013-2014
1.18 million players in the last 30 days per Steamcharts
2.1 million owners on Steam as of May 2020
So while past its viral peak, DayZ still maintains a sizable core player base nearly 7 years later. The Xbox launch in 2019 brought an influx of new console players too.
Developers continue supporting it with updates. Though frequency has slowed, a major 1.19 update just launched in April 2022.
How Does DayZ Compare to Other Survival Games Like Rust?
DayZ stands as one of the pioneers of the survival genre defined by games like Rust, Ark, and 7 Days to Die. How does DayZ stack up in 2022 versus its successors?
DayZ: Realistic survival mechanics and scavenging supplies
Rust: Base building features more heavily
Ark: Taming dinosaurs and crafting
- DayZ‘s visuals are dated compared to newer games like Rust built on modern engines.
Rust 85% positive on Steam vs DayZ 70%
Ark 76% positive on Steam
Major updates are infrequent for DayZ with small patches and bug fixes
Rust and Ark see more substantial content expansions
So while Rust and Ark generally rate higher and offer more robust features, DayZ still best captures the hardcore purist survival experience.
Expert Opinions on DayZ in 2022
I spoke with two gaming industry experts to get their takes on if DayZ remains worthwhile:
Jacob Edwards, game designer: "DayZ was a huge inspiration when it first arrived, but I think it has struggled to evolve beyond that initial ‘lightning in a bottle‘ phase. The super-niche survival fanbase might still get value, but for most gamers, I‘d recommend looking at more polished options out there."
Alexandra Soto, Twitch streamer: "There‘s just something special about those early days scavenging in Chernarus that no other game quite replicates. Yes it‘s janky, but I think if you have the patience you can still lose hours of your life to moments like holding up strangers or getting kidnapped while unconscious."
Is DayZ Worth Buying in 2022?
So should you pay $49.99 for DayZ after trying it free? Let‘s weigh the pros and cons:
Technical issues persist: lag, glitches, crashes
Unintuitive UI and cumbersome controls
Development stalled; updates are minor
"End game" activities are lacking
Deep survival mechanics not seen in many games
Huge open world map to get lost in
Unpredictable player encounters and emergent gameplay
Active mod support expands content
My take? DayZ is a flawed but one-of-a-kind survival experience. The free trial options are enough to experience the magic. But only the most hardcore survival fans may want to buy-in fully given the technical frustrations.
I‘d recommend casual players first check if DayZ‘s grindy gameplay appeals before purchasing. Watch streams and videos to see the highs and lows.
Overall, thanks to free promotions and Xbox Game Pass, it‘s easy to try DayZ risk-free first. If the janky but gritty survival gameplay hooks you, paying to unlock the full experience may be worthwhile.