Dungeon Keeper mobile remake deemed 'unplayable' due to in-app purchases

Fans of the original title have been angered by EA's heavy-handed use of micro-transactions to generate revenue

Electronic Arts is facing a backlash from gamers after its remake of the classic 1997 PC title Dungeon Keeper was deemed “unplayable” for its use of in-app payments.

The game, which has been re-released for mobile devices, tasks players with looking after an underground dungeon full of demons and imps while repelling human heroes. Defences are paid for with ‘gems’ which players can mine for free, or buy using real money.

It’s this mechanism that is angering players. Although using in-app purchases to speed progress has become a common way to monetize mobile titles, reviewers say that EA has pushed the template too far, constantly creating road-block and then encouraging players to pay to bypass them.

Dan Whitehead, who reviewed the title for Eurogamer, described it as a “the shell of Bullfrog's pioneering strategy game, hollowed out and filled up with what is essentially a beat-for-beat clone of Clash of Clans.”

A screen gives gamers the options of purchasing gems with real money. Credit: EA

“Every function, every mechanism, every online feature has been tried and tested already by Supercell's money machine and EA is following behind, drooling like a Pavlovian dog,” said Whitehead, referring to the popular mobile title Clash of Clans that earns an estimated $1 million dollars daily from micro-transactions.

The game’s original creator Peter Molyneux has even joined in with the criticism, telling the BBC  that he was shocked that the game kept players waiting for as long as 24 hours to complete tasks.

"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,'" said Molyneux, who co-founded Bullfrog Productions, the production studio also responsible for popular titles Theme Park and Theme Hospital.

Molyneux said that some of the criticism came from fans that were simply nostalgic for the original game, adding that EA had failed to get the balance right between keeping the title familiar to fans while making it work for the “bigger mobile audience.”

Dungeon Keerp (1997) and its 1999 sequel (pictured) were popular titles that introduced many gamers to strategy titles.

An EA spokesperson responded by saying the game was simply built around “mobile play patterns - that is, checking in a few minutes here and there throughout the day. 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," they said.

Unfortunately, EA has landed in further hot water after it was revealed that they had tweaked their app-feedback system to encourage only positive reviews.

When gamers are asked to rate the title on Android devices they are offered two buttons – for either 5 stars or between 1 and 4. Selecting the 5 star option takes players directly to the Android app store but players who choose between 1 and 4 are redirected towards EA’s own feedback system, essentially making negative reviews invisible.

Although players can change their star rating once they’ve clicked the ‘5 stars’ button this is not self-evident from the in-game screen. EA say that the system was only trying to help the company “collect valuable feedback from players who don't feel the game is worth a top rating.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

    SAP BW BO

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

    Recruitment Resourcer

    £18000 - £22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Recruitment Resour...

    2nd line support - Derbyshire - 6 months

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: 2nd line support - Derbyshire - 6 months...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried