EA downplays Dungeon Keeper free-to-play criticisms
"I think any time you re-make anything that is much beloved and has a great sense of nostalgia for people—be it a game, a movie, or whatever—people are going to be very protective of it."- Jeff Skalski of Dungeon Keeper studio EA Mythic dismisses criticisms of the new free-to-play remake.
Since the reboot of the classic Bullfrog strategy game launched on mobile last week, both critics and players have kicked up quite a fuss over the game's limiting microtransactions.
Now senior producer Skalski has told Tab Times that his team is "very aware" of the online outcry, but that he believes its simply down to the fact that people hold such a fond memory of the original, that they were always going to complain about a reboot.
"It's important to emphasize that we designed a game that is built around the typical mobile play patterns," he explains. "This means Dungeon Keeper is meant to be played on the go multiple times a day with a few minutes here or there."
Skalski says that, regardless of what is being said online, the majority of players are still enjoying and engaging with the game -- indeed, the game currently has more than a four out of five rating on both the App Store and Google Play.
[Update: As confirmed by Gamasutra, EA has employed a rather sneaky system for rating the game. As spotted by Mike Robinson on Twitter, when Dungeon Keeper asks you to rate the game on Android and you choose to give it less than 5 stars, the game doesn't allow you to do so, and instead asks you to message the company with your feedback.
Note that when you choose 5-stars, the game takes you to the Google Play store, so you can potentially still choose a different rating -- and you can, of course, still rate the game less than 5 stars via Google Play.
Gamasutra has contacted EA regarding the move, and contacted Google to find out whether this is against the rules of the Google Play store.
Update 2: EA has responded to Gamasutra, stating that "The 'rate this app' feature in the Google Play version of Dungeon Keeper was designed to help us collect valuable feedback from players who don't feel the game is worth a top rating."]
"We're also seeing a lot of game downloads and in-game engagement so that tells us there is a large group of people who are playing and enjoying the game," he notes. "Obviously, this is counter to some of the angry reactions we’ve seen around the internet, so we’re still trying to look at all of these data points."
Rather, it's simply a case that some gamers "have fond memories" of the original, and they were never going to be completely happy about this mobile version.
"Our intention with the mobile version was to give as many people as possible a taste of that original Dungeon Keeper experience," he adds, "and for some people, that's not the way they want to re-visit the franchise."
This isn't the first time that EA has had to defend microtransactions in its free-to-play games -- for example, there was public outcry when both Madden NFL and Real Racing 3 launched for mobile.