The growing trend for ‘freemium’ mobile games has come under more scrutiny this week, as Electronic Arts sparked criticism from customers that it is over-charging on its latest remake of the classic ‘Dungeon Keeper’ strategy game.
In reviews for the game, many customers said the in-app payments rendered the game was “unplayable” unless they spent significant sums to speed up progress and get upgrades.
EA said it had designed the game to fit in with typical patterns of mobile play and people did not have to spend money if they did not want to.
Peter Molyneux, maker of the original Dungeon Keeper, said EA had not got the game’s balance right.
Speaking to the BBC, Molyneux said: “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 told the BBC, sharing players’ criticism of the time required to farm resources, reportedly anywhere between 4 and 24 hours. Players can choose to buy in-game gems for real currency to bypass the time gate.
The game designer went on to say that he believes that the balance between keeping true to original game for longtime fans and making it “fresh enough and understandable enough” for the mobile market wasn’t achieved.
EA has also denied accusations that it has made it hard for gamers to give Dungeon keeper a bad review on the Google Play store.
Spotted by users on Twitter, and by website Pocket Gamer, the Android version of the game has a ‘Rate Your Experience’ screen (a fairly standard concept in most mobile games) which gives you two options: give the game a five-star rating or a score of between one and four.
If you click the five-star option the user is immediately taken to the game’s Google Play Store product page to rate it. But if you click the one to four option all you do is get invited to send EA support an email.
Responding to the charges, EA released the following statement: ‘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.
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.’