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EA says  Dungeon Keeper  rating system makes it easier for players
EA says Dungeon Keeper rating system makes it easier for players
February 7, 2014 | By Mike Rose

February 7, 2014 | By Mike Rose
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Electronic Arts has responded to the public outcry over the way it handles ratings in Dungeon Keeper on mobile, stating that it simply wants to collect information from players about their experiences with the game.

It came to light yesterday that the Android version of Dungeon Keeper attempts to stop you rating the game lower than 5-stars from within the game -- if you try to do so, it instead sends you to a feedback form.

Now an EA representative has told Gamasutra that this system for rating the game is in place to help the company improve the game.

"We're always looking at new ways to gather player feedback so that we can continue to improve our games," said the spokesperson. "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."

They continued, "We wanted to make it easier for more players to send us feedback directly from the game if they weren't having the best experience. Players can always continue to leave any rating they want on the Google Play store."

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Comments


Richard James
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It is also interesting to note that the dialog only has 2 options. There is no I don't want to rate option. It also says that 5 star ratings help make the game better, somehow I don't really think so.

Paolo Gambardella
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can't you see that big "X" red button in the upper-right corner? XD

Paul Speed
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Message from the future:
"...a company spokeshuman says they added the microtransaction to the 1-4 stars review screen just so that they can be sure to collect quality feedback and weed out the irresponsible clicks. Jimmy Weasle, VP Mobile Marketing, 'We were seeing so many bad reviews that they couldn't have all been coming from real players. By making players pay to leave a bad review it ensures that we are dealing with actual players who care about making the game better.'

The public outcry has been much less for this system than the previous 'disable the phone for five minutes' system employed last year..."

Gavin Koh
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Even if they did a name change by transposing their initials from EA to FB, I think it's going to be near impossible to quell the ongoing furor. With more 1-star ratings than 5-star ratings on the App Store plus another >9000 1-star ratings on Google Play to rub in the salt, the results show for themselves.

Possible moral of the story - don't shove microtransactions down player's throats; because they haven't healed from the "sore throat" that was DRM.

Bryan Wagstaff
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No, it isn't just that. In my decade of industry experience and decades more as on observer, it seems the vitriol is universal. Consider that this is a free game funded by ads and microtransactions. People disable ads, and then complain: "I just spent 300 hours being entertained by your game for free and didn't see ads. But you are EA so I hate you. Death threats. Profanity. Worst ever. Negative stars."

It isn't just EA's games. We have a guy who just won the mobile lottery with Flappy Birds who ended up pulling his great game off the market due to death threats and astounding levels of abuse that only the Internet can generate. According to both his public statements and people he knows he now literally fears for his life. By all accounts he should be celebrated as a success, but I am astounded by the deplorable behavior of gamers threatening to murder a man who gave them what they wanted.

Whenever I hear stories like this I don't think bad things about EA, I think about how closely the Internet-based game player market resembles a cesspool filled with an angry mob. Were EA's actions inappropriate? Possibly, but I can understand them. Are death threats and threats of physical violence against the individual developers who appeared in the credits an appropriate reaction for this behavior for a free downloadable game? No way, the Internet abuse club is out for blood even on free titles making relatively small mistakes.

Julio Abel
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Congratulations on your award for the worst attempt at a Strawman in history. You can place the trophy right next to those 2 golden poop awards.

No wonder you used to work for EA.
Just as EA gives us two misleading options, 1-4 or 5 stars, you give us two misleading options, either you are ok with this because "companies need to make money" or you are a guy sending death threats to people.

I imagine that you offended because you used to work for them and don't like to see yourself as the garbage that EA can sometimes produce. You don't like the generalisation. Unfortunately for you, you immediately jumped to generalising gamers into the "will send you death threats" category.

There are many non-invasive and vulgar uses of F2P, that are there to earn the developers profit in a fair and straightforward manner. Then you have this game.

Any company that needs to resort to taking the actual game out of a game to generate a profit doesn't deserved to get paid. If this is the norm rather than the exception for the video game industry as I think you are suggesting (and therefore shouldn't be frowned upon), then it doesn't deserve to be an industry at all.

These business models, like most, will perish at some point, to be replaced by newer and more poisonous business models, and so on and so forth. The only business models that stick around are the ones from REAL video game developers that tell it to you like it is and actually bring out a quality product and let the game speak for itself. If you are having trouble thinking of examples then you probably don't know your field of study very well.

Andrzej Marczewski
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I love that they say "5-Star ratings from you help us provide free updates" What a load of blackmailing crap!

Make a good game that people want updates for, then charge them for that if you have too. Don't make a crap game, force people to pay for everything and then expect 5 star ratings!

Bryan Wagstaff
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Blackmail? Force? I do not think that means what you think it means.

If EA really was blackmailing people, very literally threatening to destroy their lives if they didn't give such ratings, then I could agree. How exactly did EA "force people to pay for everything"? Did EA hold a weapon up to somebody and force them to remove their wallet? Did they make unauthorized withdrawals from their apple accounts?

This is a game that can be enjoyed FOR FREE, WITHOUT PAYMENT. Some people VOLUNTARILY give up their money in payment. Now just because a few people are unhappy with a single screen in the game which can be dismissed by the touch of a finger, the development team is facing actual death threats, with police investigating.

Sure, the game may have other problems. But there is no force, or threat of force, or blackmail involved. It is a FREE game. Download it if you want, or not. Delete it from your device if you don't like it. But people making actual death threats over a single screen on an iPhone game? Really?!

Your comment is exactly indicative of the BIGGEST problem in games right now. It isn't about the games. It is about people who start dropping terms like blackmail and force (and for others, even death threats) for something as trivial as a little popup dialog box.

Amir Barak
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"Something as little as a popup dialog box"
Of course that little dialog box is people's main (and only) way of asserting their opinion on the game within the context that it provides, so let's not pretend here that EA has made a simple mistake. Blackmail is a strong word (perhaps too strong here) but force is not. EA is forcing people playing this game to rate it at a higher level by making the other options harder.

Death threats and all of that are a separate issues but if you cultivate a garden of shit don't expect to wade through it smelling like roses. And the entire mobile industry (generalization, not all developers obviously) care very little about their audience or their games so I guess we get what we give.

***
Anyone putting up threats of death/violence though should be persecuted to the full extant of the law and if there's any justice put on the f***ing moon so we don't have to deal with morons anymore.

***
Also, a disclaimer that you work for EA might be nice.

Bryan Wagstaff
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Yes, at one point in my career I used to work for EA. I also used to work for several other companies. I'm not working at EA now, nor am I a corporate shill. This has nothing to do with EA and everything to do with the current culture.

If you prefer I don't talk about EA, how about Activision? Just a few months ago they got multiple death threats (including fairly credible threats against named family members of the developers) for the Call of Duty patch. The crime was adjusting some timings by less than a quarter second for balancing the game.

Right now in the gaming culture it is cool to hate. Hate EA. Hate Zynga. Hate FaceBook. Hate Activision. Hate Flappy Birds. Hate the popular games. Hate your opponents. Hate the random players online. Hate DRM. Hate microtransactions. You used to work at a company, hate you. Hate the other brand of console. Hate, hate, abuse, hate, threaten, abuse, hate.

At what point are we as an industry going to say "This must stop!"?

From my vantage point, for about the last 15 or maybe 18 years the gaming community has been in a downward spiral of hate being cool. Fifteen years ago game developers were treated as rock stars. Back around '95 most of the people who vocally hated were quickly minimized by the community, but the tide was changing. Look around now. Just over the past week we have death threats over Flappy Birds, death threats over Dungeon Keeper. How much further must the spiral go before we start hearing about game developers getting murdered over a stupid free cell phone game?

I think that we, as an industry, need to decide to end all the abuse and hate, and make it so hate is no longer cool. Some of our lives may depend on it.

Amir Barak
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Ah, misunderstood that you weren't working for EA anymore; sorry.

"At what point are we as an industry going to say "This must stop!"? "
At no point will the industry as we know it is going to stop this because this is what makes money for them and the companies themselves couldn't give a rat's ass about the developers that work inside. We cultivate a place where money drives we can't then complain at the results we get.

The games industry, as it stands, thrives on popularity not quality. And that should really read poopularity given the target audience of most games...

To fix the industry we need to cut the audience (or teach them, which will achieve the same thing since most people don't want/can't improve) which also means cutting revenue; how many companies want to do that exactly?

The games industry caters for fools... Do you expect any other kind of behavior from them?

***
Just wanted to clarify that I didn't mean you were a corporate shill, just that you are more attached to the EA side of things than is visible. Obviously it is not the case currently and I apologize if I offended in what, I admit, could easily be read as an attack on your character.

Adam Merkel
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A slider would have been better. All EA did was make it impossible for users to be honest with their ratings.

E Zachary Knight
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I guess that if I were to have played this game and wanted to rate it, I probably would have given it a 1-star rating and in the comments made to the form, I would list this as the reason:

"This form"

Dean Boytor
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Its a very questionable tactic. In reality they essentially built their rating system on a path of least resistance, knowing that people who really wanted to give it a 4 then seeing they have to write a short essay on why its worth a 4 VS just give it a 5 star and carry on with life faster.

Someone pointed out that even if you want to give it 5 stars it still brings you to the Google play store and gives you the complete option of logging a 1-4 rating without submitting a ticket. EA cannot interfere with the programming on the Google play store so the 5 star option redirects you to the legit rating system assuming you will follow through with your 5 Star intention.

I really don't buy this excuse;
"We're always looking at new ways to gather player feedback so that we can continue to improve our games".

If they really wanted to know how to the improve their product, they don't have to go far at all online since most game sites are discussing their questionable Free to Play design from 2005, they should start with that.

Jim Perry
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It's mind-boggling that they release statements like this. Do they not realize that only thinking-impaired people are going to buy this load of crap? They'd have been better off not saying anything. They just dug the hole deeper with this load of nonsense.

Dave Hoskins
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This is headlining the BBC news tech web pages:-

"EA faces criticism over mobile Dungeon Keeper game"...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26033685

I personally think they should just let people buy the game outright, and let them enjoy it. But the accountants will disagree with that 'ludicrous idea.'

Dean Boytor
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We have been barking up that tree since Plants vs Zombies 2

Ron Dippold
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To quote BGR:

'But while itís literally true that EAís alleged crimes against consumers arenít on par with those of BP or JPMorgan, it also undersells EAís remarkable achievement: That is, itís managed to make people incredibly angry by selling them video games... That, I think, is what EA does so well: It takes things that used to be cool and ruins them. This not only makes your current gaming experience terrible but it retroactively poisons the fun memories you used to have playing these classic games. Thatís a rare gift...' ( http://bgr.com/2014/02/07/ea-sleazy-microtransactions-criticism/ )

Obviously lying in a 'neener neener you know I'm lying but can't quite prove it' fashion is not damage control. You'd be far better just not saying anything. Did you learn nothing from the SimCity debacle?

Alan Boody
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Here's the problem with EA:

They're a game publisher & developer ran by executives and management from other industries.

Alan Boody
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http://investors.ea.com/directors.cfm

Alan Boody
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I hear this argument for free-to-play all the time:

Developers need to make money or they won't be able to pay their bills.

Seems like an impenetrable argument, right? I mean, after all, it's logically true. However, it ignores the basic fact of what game developers are making: GAMES! Now, if you want to 'make money' on your game then make a game people want to PAY MONEY FOR.

If you have to sacrifice the game-play or tack on artificial barriers just to extract money from players thne you're not making a game; you're making a money leaching product.

Look at the success of games like The Banner Saga, Minecraft, RUST, DayZ, 7 Days To Die, and numerous other indie developed games that are thriving. These games were made AS GAMES FIRST with the intentions of BEING VIDEO GAMES, not microtransaction skinner boxes. They showed that if you create a GREAT GAME that people will want to play; you won't need deceptive & gimmicky tags like "free-to-play" to make money.

I'm not against free-to-play games nor am I against IAP. People who argue that you can create a good & ethical F2P game are correct. LoL is a prime example of this. But, games like Dungeon Keeper, Candy Crash Saga, Clash of Clans are unethical. Legal doesn't always equal ethical. Saying, "people don't have to pay if they don't want to," doesn't mean it's always ethical to have these types of f2p RMT systems when they do end paying. That's a dishonest argument.

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[User Banned]
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