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Dungeon Keeper controversy rains on EA

Peter Molyneux joins the fray
Mon Feb 10 2014, 14:41
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GAMES FIRM Electronic Arts (EA) is watching as its Dungeon Keeper remake is bashed from pillar to post.

The firm released its Dungeon Keeper remake recently to a barrage of angry reactions.

It has failed people through its in-app payment system, a regular bugbear among casual gamers, and it is, we understand, a rather poor playing experience. Accusations have also been aimed at the firm that it is working the reviews system on some app stores and is not letting the lowest scores through.

Most damning and most repeated are the complaints about what a lumpy brew the game is. Just released at the end of January, it was dubbed a reimagination of a classic.

"With the recent surge in the popularity of core mobile games, Dungeon Keeper joins several of EA's other mobile titles, including Heroes of Dragon Age, to offer our gamers an immersive and strategic mobile gaming experience," said EA Mobile SVP Nick Earl at launch.

"We've reimagined this classic title and built it specifically for mobile platforms, giving longtime Dungeon Keeper fans a new way to delve into the fun of this legendary title on the go."

Since then the firm has released a range of statements. Initially it responded to critics of the game who argued that a pay to play, or pay to do anything, game was lacking in fun.

EA conceded that it might have got the balance wrong when trying to build something that is true to the original and works in the mobile world.

"We specifically built Dungeon Keeper around typical mobile play patterns - that is, checking in a few minutes here and there throughout the day," said a spokesperson.

"This way of playing, we've found, allows fans to naturally progress through the game as a free player. We believe we've designed an experience wherein players don't have to spend money if they don't want to."

The firm pointed to a number of positive reviews, but found that these were also criticised by disgruntled players. Following that it said that an in-game rating system was perhaps not firing entirely accurately at the Google Play store and was only directing five-star commendations to its webpages.

"We're always looking at new ways to gather player feedback so that we can continue to improve our games. 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," it told Eurogamer in a statement.

"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."

Original Dungeon Keeper creator Peter Molyneux has joined in the criticism and told the BBC that it is not the game that he thought it might be.

"I felt myself turning round saying, 'What? This is ridiculous. I just want to make a dungeon. I don't want to schedule it on my alarm clock for six days to come back for a block to be chipped,'" he said.

"I don't think they got it quite right, the balance between keeping it familiar to the fans that were out there but fresh enough and understandable enough for this much bigger mobile audience." µ


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