PC gamers hate Dungeon Keeper mobile - here's why they should accept it

Dungeon Keeper for mobile

There’s been a massive fiasco over the launch of EA’s mobile iteration of Dungeon Keeper last week, primarily from old-school PC gamers that are downright disgusted at how a beloved franchise has been warped by the standards of the mobile economy. All of the usual freemium tropes are there: tasks such as building structures and training units are set on a real-world timer, which can be sped up with the expenditure of gems. Gems are acquired either through in-game achievements or, more commonly, with an outright purchase. The length of timers get progressively longer, adding more pressure to spend real money than wait for tasks to complete. The transition from a game about skill, strategy and timing to one about the amount of time you’re willing to wait or money you’re willing to spend is sharp, but there are reasons why things the way they are on mobile, and they don’t entirely revolve around greedy developers using abusive models.

On the clock

Dungeon Keeper timers

There are some fair questions to be asked of mobile gaming by traditional PC and console gamers. “How can waiting be fun?” The short answer is, you’re going to be waiting anyway. The data shows U.S. consumers spend an average of 50 minutes a day on mobile games, which, though significant, still leaves a lot of day leftover. Individual sessions are getting longer, but still average around 3 minutes. The old standard of sitting down for a minimum of a half hour to play something still doesn’t quite hold water on mobile.

At the end of it all is a token reward with little intrinsic value other than the symbolic representation of time spent suffering.

Truly dedicated mobile gamers can juggle multiple timer-based free-to-play games for longer sessions, but most of them are happy to dive in whenever their notification tray says something is ready. The fact that you can’t do much once you hit a timewall isn’t a hugely restrictive factor under these circumstances, though one could argue that play times are so short because games have these limitations.

Paying to win

Dungeon Keeper premium currency

“How can paying your way through a task feel rewarding?” Traditional core gamers are used to tirelessly running after the proverbial carrot on a stick. They grind through challenges, failing over and over again to get to the end. They grit their teeth, try new strategies, get fed up, and come back for more. At the end of it all is a token reward with little intrinsic value other than the symbolic representation of time spent suffering. A good game, by many accounts, is a gruelling process. Surprise! Not everybody wants to go through that. Personally, I love the journey and couldn’t have fun if I was just rewarded for showing up, but that’s a lot to ask of someone who approaches gaming casually or otherwise has no gaming background.

Those players will happily trade in a buck for an hour of work in-game if there is some bauble, however superficial, to be gained so long as they’re enjoying the experience. Core gamers would see this as cheating themselves out of the fun of a game (chasing the objective) while casual gamers only see acquiring the prize. Call them lazy or shallow if you like; they’re having a good time, even if it’s not the deep level of reward you might feel from a “real” game. Parallels to the pay-to-play model of yesteryear's arcades have been made. Though this breed of free-to-play is decidedly more “vampiric” than feeding a machine quarters out of good faith and plenty of vocal critics are opposing it, the current model has many players financially supporting games like Dungeon Keeper. These kinds of games have been around long enough and been successful enough that imagining them as any kind of deception is only valid if you’re coming from PC gaming and you’re not used to this sort of thing. Whether or not we should be used to it is really just a philosophical debate with little bearing on what actually ends up happening.

A rude awakening for PC gamers

The in-app purchases being employed in Dungeon Keeper are only new, unforgiving, and shocking to those that normally wouldn’t touch mobile games with a ten-foot stylus, but were lured over by a revered, recognizable brand. The disconnect is especially clear when these players don’t know how to budget their gems or straight-up haven’t played the game on principle. I certainly agree with the critics that there are reasonable ways to employ in-app purchases that aren’t nearly as predatory as Dungeon Keeper, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before; players either take it or leave it.

The same moms that pour money into Candy Crush Saga aren’t likely to appreciate the joy of beating the snot out of a little imp.

As noted elsewhere, using the Dungeon Keeper brand was a strategic misstep on EA’s part because the demographics just don’t line up. In short, the people old enough to appreciate Dungeon Keeper aren’t the ones that keep IAP-driven games from being sustained. Conversely, the ones that can stomach IAP-ridden games aren’t the ones to be tickled by Dungeon Keeper nostalgia. The same moms that pour money into Candy Crush Saga aren’t likely to appreciate the joy of beating the snot out of a little imp, nevermind have previous experience with the original franchise. The teens who couldn’t be bothered to wait for their stuff to finish building probably don’t even know what a video card is, but they’ll dig the humor.

The marketing spend required to sustain the free-to-play model is a big issue, and one can see in that light why EA was willing to sacrifice a high-value brand in the name of acquiring players, but the fact is, EA was setting themselves up to be burned by leveraging something so deeply cherished. Publishers should take note of this episode: only use established franchises if you can do the originals justice. Though this was the goal of the developer, their hands were tied once the business model was decided.

There’s been a lot of talk in the wake of Dungeon Keeper surrounding the purity and goodwill of traditional game design, and pointing to War for the Overworld as an example of how to do the dungeon-digging game right. As great as War for the Overworld looks, it’s got some major showstoppers, namely, it’s not free, and it’s not mobile. For hardcore gamers, those aren't problems, but for the wider (and potentially more lucrative) market, Dungeon Keeper is in a much better position. As for the abusive relationship between player and developer, it seems apt. Mobile gamers are fickle, and for them games are disposable. It would be great if I could trust a $6.99 iOS game to be worth it, and I'm not alone, but in an oversaturated market, it’s no surprise we aren’t seeing more premium-priced titles. Barriers need to be lowered if developers want to have any shot at winning a user’s attention, as summed up nicely by Penny Arcade. The lack of any up-front cost reduces pressure early on and the familiarity bred over time (which is demanded by the game mechanics) can keep even the most casual mommy gamer playing for months.

Butchering a classic

Original Dungeon Keeper

Although I’m a through-and-through PC gamer and put a ton of time into one of Bullfrog’s other games, Theme Hospital, I never got around to playing the original Dungeon Keeper titles. After all of this noise about how great the originals were, I’m more likely than ever to pick up a copy from Good Old Games and compare it to my experience with the mobile version I’ve been playing since the Canadian soft launch. The most troubling thing about this whole affair isn’t that EA is doing something awful. That’s no surprise. They’re milking a franchise using a proven business model. Par for course. The bigger thing that’s coming to light is that there’s such vitriol from “hardcore” gamers towards what’s happening on mobile.

The most I make from the critical backlash of Dungeon Keeper is that there are a lot of elitist gamers out there.

The high bar set by PC gaming by and large isn’t being met on iOS, but we’re talking about a different group of players and activity cycle. For better or worse, mobile players are talking with their wallets and supporting freemium. Nobody’s putting a gun to their heads to buy gems or to leave glowing five-star reviews, despite devs using slippery tricks and continually needling them to buy gems.

When a freemium game’s difficulty curve gets too high for my liking, I don’t pay my way through it. There’s this bizarre equation that a lot of critics make that they have to spend real money to play any of these freemium titles, as if waiting or leaving aren’t options. If the wait gets too long, I uninstall and move to the next game. Maybe it’s silly of me to assume more people have that sensibility, but it sure makes it hard to believe that developers are muscling their way to the top of the charts out of sheer coercion.

Dungeon Keeper in the Editor's choice section

The most I make from the critical backlash of Dungeon Keeper is that there are a lot of elitist gamers out there that are pissed off that people have fun playing stupid, poorly-balanced games on their phones. We’re talking about an ecosystem where a seemingly senseless game like Flappy Bird has miraculously launched itself to the top of the iOS charts. This isn’t to say the entire mobile gaming populace are lazy drones that are willing to throw money at something rather than undergo a bit of labor to reach a feeling of accomplishment, but that does characterize a significant group and represents a new generation of gamers that wouldn’t otherwise be active in the industry. To throw the games that they enjoy under the bus is to basically say “you’re not good enough to be a ‘real’ gamer”. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds this reaction troubling. Mainstream mobile gamers aren’t typically in-tune enough with online punditry to weather that particular storm, but that also means you likely aren’t going to see a lot of them learning about the deeper issues or alternatives (or, conversely, defending F2P).

These are different use cases for different gamers with different expectations.

By all means, talk with your wallet and your reviews. If abusive free-to-play games actively nauseate you, go on a 1-star review spree, while simultaneously 5-starring every game that suits your tastes for business models. Better yet, pay up-front for games without in-app purchases. With any luck, these will sway the opinions of those unsure about what to play (though they may still be perfectly comfortable with the current standard of free-to-play) and send a clear message to developers. Ultimately, I think there’s room for both the traditional game pricing and design structure on mobile, proven by successful ports of Bastion, Final Fantasy VI and XCOM to iOS, as well as super-accessible free-to-play games like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga that appeal to the widest player base (and, some might say, the lowest common denominator). There’s also little reason why these two types have to appeal to mutually exclusive audiences.

So let’s leave the snobbery at the door. It’s unrealistic to directly apply the standards of PC and console gaming to mobile. These are different use cases for different gamers with different expectations. I don’t blame EA for making the game they did, because there’s potential success there (though maybe less so after all of this criticism). They’re doing what the invisible hand of capitalism does best. I also don’t blame gamers for liking what they like, even if I’d rather spend cash up-front and skip the continual nagging. For those that would go so far as to call Dungeon Keeper mobile an anti-game, I can only say “get used to it”. Sad? Maybe, but if players keep supporting the companies that employ timeblocks in their games, they’ll keep getting made.

Follow along more of the freemium debate in our feature talking to developers at GDC 2014.

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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There are 51 comments. Add yours.

Armada says:

No matter how you spin it, I won't get over how EA turned a franchise I really liked into something totally bogus. It's much like how Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is an okay game without context but if you asked fans of the first two games the majority would say they hated it. I couldn't care less about the micro transactions and the mobile ecosystem which bred it.

graigsmith says:

They have done this to multiple games. There was an ultima game that came out. And it was so lame. Games are about skill. And having fun. When you get asked to pay more instead of play more it turns the fun off.

richardjhudson says:

In the day I loved Dungeon Keeper (1 & 2). If anyone is interested I would recommend take a look at War of the Overworld Bedrock Beta, which is available for both Mac & PC.

txa1265 says:

Here let me help you - PC gamers hate Dungeon Keeper mobile. They are right - but need to realize that mindless quarter-munching games are the future. Looking for a deep experience? Forget it. Those days are gone.

Simon Sage says:

Yeah, that's a pretty good short version. I don't think it means the end of deep games, though. Premium-priced games and games lighter on IAPs will still have supporters, even if they're not as broadly popular as the Dungeon Keepers and Clash of Clans.

David hermo says:

You're a massive scumbag for even supporting this for one.

This is beyond the normal level of free to play. I play a number of them, Warframe is a grim fest and makes you wait to build but at least you can PLAY it.

What's next forcing you to pay five bucks just to learn how to jump? You know like in DLC quest were you have to pay (in game) money just to turn left?

Simon Sage says:

There's a fine line between supporting and understanding. It's the same reason that my title said PC gamers should accept what's happening here, not necessarily love or support it.

I've played Warframe too, and you're right, it does IAPs in a balanced way. Hawken, Loadout, TF2, Hearthstone, and Blacklight: Retribution are some other freemium PC titles that I'm enjoying, but that's an entirely different platform. Like I said below to BBFunGuy, mobile gaming is a different beast, and generally relies on accessibility, not necessarily the best game mechanics or balance. We're talking about a mainstream audience that would never really self-identify as a gamer, or understand why we would put ourselves through real, honest trials when we're trying to relax. These are people with no preconceived notions of game design or balance, nevermind qualms with "cheating" their way to the top.

I'm not saying by any means that good, balanced gameplay doesn't have a place on mobile or that we shouldn't support it when it shows up. My point is simply that games with timewalls are a fixture in mobile, and they suit the gaming tastes for a sizeable audience. The reason it's important to make this point is because most of the editorials on the Dungeon Keeper hooplah make out mobile gaming to be a fetid cesspool, when I feel it's just full of a lot of games I wouldn't play and a few I would. Let's be fair, that's the state of gaming on most platforms.

David hermo says:

True but this is beyond the limits of acceptable
I mean those games don't make you pay what a dollar per block

And its just going to further support the ideal that mobile games are scams and the people who play them idiots

Juwei Bian says:

David hermo, what you are saying towards this game is the epitome of arrogance and ignorance. You act like a total cash noob, saying that the only way to play a waiting based game is to pay. Bullshit, because I played the game and still am, and am now at level 22. I have only spent 10 dollars, because the game is worth that, and many of you say its worth 7, and I have NEVER sped-up anything, because I am not going to spend my hard-earned gems or bought gems to do something I can wait. In other words, this game is more than playable, because I have done it, and so have many others. Regardless, I do not like the idea of overspending money on a game, because then everyone else does and THEN it becomes pay-to-win. Currently, however, more DK original fans are overjoyed at this new version as opposed to the people who dislike it. Also, you are forgetting the fact not everyone also wants to pay a dollar per block, so they'd rather wait. However, they can wait, but you can't. In other words, your argument is just based on a 2 minute experience while mine is 2 months. And for the part about mobile games are scams? Pure idiocy, because a scam is when people feel cheated out of their money on unfair terms, but when we WILLINGLY pay the games, it means its BUYING, not SCAMMED. You are the idiot for being out of place in this era of electronics, and also for ignoring the STATISTICS which show the overwhelming support for mobile games as opposed to those who can't understand their greatness >->

David hermo says:

With that price I got both dungeon keeper games.

No a scam works when people that are too stupid to know they're being cheated out of thier money until its too late

Juwei Bian says:

Thats one definition. The other is what people THINK is a ripoff, which is what you did. A scam isn't a scam if a fucking million people know it is, and that is quite often. Same thing with this game- the players also think this game wants to weed them out of their money, but they still want to play it, so they do so without being scammed. Now how are you being scammed if you are not losing any money?

Peter Dam says:

No, we should not accept it. We should combat it, because this is not the direction anyone wants games to go (whether they accept it or not). If we accept it, we're just being complacent and allowing this poor practice to become more and more common. I understand why an asinine unscrupulous company would do this, but I refuse to accept it, as well as I refuse to accept that anyone is actually okay for any reason other than not knowing any better.

smichele says:

Sorry but this article completely misses the point. There is a whole community of gamers which are willing to pay upfront for a nice game.

PC are in ruins and consoles are old history. Gamers want to play from mobile devices. They want to play on the move and they also want great games. Look at order and caos. Hardcore, beloved and with in app purchases. Dungeon keeper could have been like that. Sell new monsters, sell rooms, don't sell time.

The big mistake was to create a game for casual gamers out of a title for hardcore gamers. You cannot sell time to hardcore gamers. We want action and challenge. I hope EA realise that there is a big market out there which has not yet been covered.

Simon Sage says:

I agree that there are hard core gamers to cater to, and it was an absolute mismatch for the Dungeon Keeper brand to be built for casual gamers. The point was that casual gamers are the majority, and they don't pay for games up-front. That doesn't mean there's no room for "hardcore" games, but it makes sense to me that it takes a back seat.

Juwei Bian says:

I see logic in your argument, but you are being extreme by saying PC games are obsolete, and that DK is shit. I do not believe DK and other similar games gain their money from "selling time" except for some occasions, because no one is stupid enough to just burn money on the game to do things you can just wait (and slap you imps) for. Does DK need some change?- yes, but regardless its still a good game.

Aruvqan Myers says:

DK 1 and 2 hardcore games? Please, I play Eve Online in nullspace ... my 8 year old goddaughter plays DK1 ...

Nathan Bael says:

I don't mind freemium games as long as the model isn't too abusive. I haven't spent a dime on candy crush, nor on PvZ 2. I also don't mind paying up front on a game as long as the game is good. My favorite model is for the game to be about 15% free and then, if you like it, you purchase the full version. The model I despise the most is what is used by some vendors where you pay a decent price for the game, say $6 or more. Then, you end up paying to play as well through in-app purchases. I don't mind paying extra for expansions, but $6 should net me a full mobile game.

Farmer Harv says:

A better analogy, I think, than arcade games is that of slot machines. Insert money, tap a few things, wait for your "reward", repeat until you're bored or have spent enough.

I'm probably a core gamer, and maybe an elite snobbish gamer, but for the life of me I cannot see how these are "games" any more than slots are. Their sole purpose is most definitely Not to entertain, or be played in the traditional sense, it is simply to extract the maximum amount of money out of as many people for as long as possible. Not to say there aren't people who are enjoying this while spending little, if any, real money, but those are not the people that this sort of thing is intended for.

Simon Sage says:

Slot machines are definitely a better analogy, and you're right that they're designed to extract money from us. The thing that bothers me about that assessment is the inference that traditionally-modeled games aren't trying to make money. They're front-heavy. You see what you get, you get what you pay for, and that's that. It's a model we're comfortable because it's how most of our other transactions go. It bugs me that many core gamers can't wrap their head around the idea of A) a rear-heavy pricing structure, or B) that some (many) players derive enjoyment from the prize rather than the gameplay. Those games aren't for me, or most of us waxing on the topic, but the industry is being led in that direction by the players as much as the developers.

Nathan Bael says:

Simon, I don't think it is as simple as back-heavy pricing. Many of these games are pay-to-win type games. This probably links them together with slot machines psychologically speaking.

However, there are always people who prefer to win, regardless of if they are the ones that did the winning. Take a look at both Everquest and World of Warcraft. In both of these games you can spend real dollars for in-game dollars, originally via 3rd party solutions. Now though, you can, at least in EQ, buy items from Sony (tradeable 1 month subscriptions renewals), that you can trade for in-game money.

StrontiumYeti says:

Simon - I'm working on the principle that you needed clicks and thought this would be a good way to do it; using the 'she deserved it ' argument is not a good way to go; using the 'those cranky old skool gamerZ' is not the way to go- what you have ended up with is a piece that neither condemns nor applauds -- which kind of leaves a fencepost up your backside.

Simon Sage says:

If a piece needs to condemn or applaud in order to be any good, you could say I'm condemning critics. There's not much commentary to be had on the game itself. It's par for course in the App Store, sad as that may be. If I was really interested in clickbait and not offering some kind of counterbalancing opinion, I would have written something with more torches and pitchforks and angry mobs, which is much more fashionable right now.

TechShizzle says:

Bullsh*t.

Sometimes torches and pitchforks are called for.

This is one of those times.

asuperstarr says:

Great read!

Sent from the iMore App

Dev from tipb says:

People who are "waiting anyway" would be in no way impacted by a change (reversion?) to more traditional gameplay mechanics. If the game was more like DK2, and allowed your hypothetical half-hour session, the "waiting anyway" type could still enjoy 3 minute sessions, hit their home button, and come back later. Put simply, timesinks kill the 30 minute gamer, but the lack of timesinks do have to kill the sporadic player.

Timesinks are not put in to make the game more attractive to the casual player; they are an artificial game mechanic to drive in-app purchases, nothing more, nothing less. That timesinks have a conceptual ancestor in arcade games like Gauntlet (where you lost health every second, just because) does not make them suck any less.

Simon Sage says:

You're right that the timesinks are artificial and blatant, but it's a mechanic mobile gamers are (for whatever reason) supporting.

I disagree that hitting pause/play over and over again is viable rhythm for many games. For me, there needs to be some degree of finality or conclusion for a session to be enjoyable. That can include finishing a level, completing a turn, or in the case of something like Dungeon Keeper, running out of resources and all of my imps being busy. Full RTS matches rarely, if ever, have those mid-game waypoints where you can walk away satisfied.

Dev from tipb says:

Good point re: finality, but that could be better accomplished by breaking up longer "missions" by milestones without a mandatory wait period, rather than introducing a pay-to-get-around timesink.

Sent from the iMore App

gewappnet says:

I think this analysis is way better:
http://www.baekdal.com/opinion/how-inapp-purchases-has-destroyed-the-ind...
It is not about casual vs. hardcore, it is about creative game concepts. There was a short period of time in which iOS was becoming THE new game platform with new creative game concepts and innovative ideas. Yes, pricing was too low. And I don't think in-app-purchases was a bad idea in principle. But Apple should never have introduced consumable in-app-purchases.

It is also a misconception to see iOS (just) as a mobile platform. iPads are mostly used on sofas and are therefore the new home consoles - or could have been, if this game platform wouldn't be destroyed because of consumable in-app-purchases. Next will be traditional consoles. There are already new "full price games" with in-app-purchases.

TechShizzle says:

That is a great analysis!

Much better than this article's "If you don't want to get scammed then you expect too much. That's just the way it is so get used to it," analysis.

I have stopped playing games on my iPads and iPhones because of the abusive IAPs that are required by just about every game developer on the App Store. I will gladly pay $9.99 (or whatever) for a great game that doesn't require me to wait, pay to speed up or unlock required aspects of gameplay. Selling games for "free" just get a lot of people to download a game and climb the charts is terrible.

Game developers are shooting themselves in the foot (and the head) by implementing this pay as you IAP strategy.

I think the only way out of this is for Apple to allow trial versions of games-Free to download, then 1 IAP to unlock the full game. Done.

Until then, I refuse to play along (pun intended) with greedy scam artists, err, "developers".

Simon Sage says:

To pull on the slot machine analogy brought up earlier, do you blame the casino for having them, or the players that keep them in business? I'd blame both equally if I felt the need to point fingers, but I'm more than happy to let people do whatever floats their boat. If the whole scene turns you off, by all means, swear off the platform. For me, it's like Vegas. The place is just gross, and I would never go on vacation there, even if I happen to go there for work sometimes and that there may be a few decent games tucked away somewhere there. If you want to convince people not to get into freemium games, leave detailed one-star reviews in the App Store.

One assumption here is that IAP-laden games are the only ones out there. Even though they're the majority, there are plenty of honest titles in the App Store, and I'm going to round some up this week. There's also a differing sense of balance when it comes to "required aspects of gameplay". Casual gamers can get by with a lot less than core gamers can. We've been trained by games for years to think that if we work hard enough at a game, we can unlock everything. When that's no longer the case and someone with looser pursestrings than us can get further ahead, it at very least doesn't jibe with our expectations, and at worst is insulting.

In this particular case, I think the only foot-shooting going on was using the Dungeon Keeper brand. It was a logical mismatch for the target audience. The IAP model has produced hugely popular, well-loved, and commercially successful titles for years, as bewildering as some of them may be to us. I talked a bit about deception in the article, and I still fail to see how these games are scams. It's confusing that people find these kinds of games fun, but people know exactly what they are paying for when they get a pack of gems or power-ups. The structure has been around for long enough. That we question a player's sense of value in that transaction is kind of a moot point.

TechShizzle says:

The problem is that there are great games being offered on the App Store, and the only option to play such games is to pay through the nose in IAPs (Real Racing, et al.). If there was an equivalent game without IAPs-or at least a one-time charge for the "full version-then I'd be all over it.

But there isn't.

Which means those of us who want to play Real Racing have to pay up or shut up because if we don't pay up then the game is essentially unplayable.

The developers aren't concerned with offering the best experience they can create. They're ready, willing, and able to screw their users in exchange for more money, instead of making the best game and let their satisfied users vote with their wallets.

Again-make Candy Crush unplayable without IAPs-I couldn't care less. But a more immersive, deeper game should be playable for a 1 time full version fee.

Simon Sage says:

There are some very good IAP-driven games, it's true, and up-front premium versions would be nice to have. I still don't see the model as an insanely lucrative scam, though. It's a fine line between "essentially unplayable" and "actually unplayable" when talking about these things. Any traditionally-structured game is actually unplayable until you pay up (barring trial periods, which are rare anyway). That's a gamble for the player. They've got to do some homework with reviews and have some kind of established rapport with the developer for trust. These are steps a casual gamer won't take if faced with a $10 purchase.

When the freemium model is employed, it's a gamble for the developer. They soak up the initial risk and give away the core experience of their game. They have to work harder to ensure players keep playing. Their business hinges on not being so abusive as to push players away, but abusive enough to make back their development costs plus profit. Is generating loyalty not a decent rubric for offering the "best experience they can create"?

This is opposed to usual AAA developers who aren't beholden to support you once you've paid up, though it would behoove them to in order to maintain good faith through the next release and continue to push sales with content releases. Still, relatively optional. Their business hinges on people buying their games, not playing them. How many people keep buying EA games despite countless screw-ups?

Between these two scenarios, I'd be more satisfied with the game that managed to squeeze ten bucks out of me after two months of sporadic gameplay than the $60 AAA game that I got bored with after two weeks of focused play (Skyrim and Dishonored are some personal examples).

Simon Sage says:

I love innovative games and there are many on iOS, but the majority of mobile gamers are simply not that emotionally invested in gaming as any kind of art form or creative industry. They just want to kill time on the bus. I don't think those kind of players are "destroying" mobile as a gaming platform. In fact, I'd say they're expanding it, since that guy wouldn't be playing games if the barrier for entry was any higher. Having these mechanics bleed into premium games is bad form for sure, but as always, players can talk with their wallets. If a premium game has in-app consumables, don't buy it.

As for Apple, you know they get a cut of every in-app purchase, right?

gewappnet says:

So how many people do you see on the bus with an iPad playing casual games? I have never seen anyone. The iPad Air is a high end tech gear, that is basically used on the sofa and doing stuff people did on laptops before. iOS is not just about mobile gaming. The large touch screen is perfect for complex strategy games or RPGs - like the original Dungeon Keeper.

And yes, Apple makes money with these dumb scam games as well. But I still think they would prefer the iPad to be recognized as the "real" gaming platform it could be.

BBFunGuy says:

iOS, as a gaming platform, is impossibly far behind that of desktops. Soon, the world's most played mmo will arrive in the form of World of Tanks 'Blitz'. As the PCand xbox versions are free, it should be easy to compare[ lack of] features. The overriding problem is the lack of control input. A touchscreen may be very cool, and futuristic, making you feel like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, but compared to a mouse and keyboard, or even a ps/xbox type controller, is severely lacking. Seriously, the only games I have witnessed as being moderately playable on a phone or tablet either require single touch, or more commonly, the entire touchscreen acts as a single 'fire button' to make you go up. Compare that to Eve online, for instance.

Simon Sage says:

As a PC gamer, I hear you. EVE Online is crazytown. For those who really dig into gaming, it's easy to invest in a PC set-up. However, mobile gaming has exploded because of its accessibility, not because of its innovations in design or graphics. The fact that there are games that can be acquired instantly, anywhere, and played by kids, moms, and grandmoms with equal ease is what's exciting to me about the whole thing.

Gazoobee says:

I'm sorry but this article is absolute BS. You can't just say black is white. You're basically just saying that it's OK for the game developer to ask you to pay 60 bucks to "win" a 20 year old game because ... he can.

You're also saying that it's okay to pay to "win" a game because some people "play" that way, which is a statement so full of complete contradictions that it makes no sense at all. If you are paying to win, then you are not only not "winning," you are not actually "playing" the game either.

Absolute f*cking nonsense and bullish*t.

Ipheuria says:

I have Tetris on my iPad and love the game. There's no IAP just good old skool Tetris fun. However I understand why devs do IAP because there are people who use it. It's not fair to say it's OK for small Indie devs to do it but big game houses shouldn't. Do I have games with IAP? yep but I've never bought any. Have I paid upfront for a game? yep but not everyone will and what good is the app store without customers? There are different customers with different choices and at the end of the day EA is a huge company don't fool yourself into thinking they care about the happiness of customers. They are in the business to make money it just so happens that business brings customers joy. I think there are other things wrong with the app store and mobile gaming in general and if this brings attention to it then good.

Sent from the iMore App

moroboshi says:

Interestingly, even Peter Molyneux, who DESIGNED THE ORIGINAL, has slammed this abysmal remake. - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26033685

Freemium is the opposite of game design. It needs to die.

Juggy Crush says:

I have played DK1 n 2 and this bring back memories.
No matter how you condemn the business models or company ethics, i have come to accept that mobile IAP brings more revenue than console or pc games.
I assume copy of console or pc games will be around usd10 to usd60 (diablo 3- latest game i bought). But IAP will get more from you if you are addicted to it.
I have spent usd250 a week and total around usd2000 on a card base IAP game before i quit as i was addicted to it, ranking almost every alternate weekly event.

Now, i m taking it slow with DKmobile. Bought an imp. Playing it sloooooow, not very entertaining like the pc where we can play for hours a day, but just suits my current lifestyle, juggling between work, family and game...and controlling my blood pressure lol.

currently DHeart4, but i dont know when will i manage to upgrade as the amount of resources required are crazy! Well... let it be, i m not going to repeat my mistake again and Number1 in ranking wont make me any greater IRL ( in real life )

Peter Dam says:

"I can only say “get used to it”. Sad? Maybe, but if players keep supporting the companies that employ timeblocks in their games, they’ll keep getting made."

So you start by saying what you call hardcore or elitist gamers shouldn't bash this practice and shouldn't bash people who support this practice, while, conversely, you say that if players keep supporting this, they'll keep getting made. You see where the logic fails? When we're voicing our discontent at this, it's not to be snobbish, it's exactly because we despise this model and, furthermore, we're trying to get people who, through naivety, support this to realize that this model is predatory and self-destructive, and they shouldn't support it for everyone's sake.

Simon Sage says:

Talking with your wallet and ragging on casual players for being "naive" are two different things. How many of the Dungeon Keeper critiques were actually informative and reaching out to the broad, general audience that plays freemium games, and not just appealing to a small, core clique of readers that had an emotional attachment to the original? I think the crux here is that those of us that care enough about games to write about them are a part of that core clique, meanwhile the larger base of freemium users doesn't have the impetus to be a part of the conversation (especially in the face of such hostility).

Even if casual gamers could be bothered to discover new non-freemium titles by reading sites like ours (which, let's face it, takes a fair bit of dedication) rather than getting cozy with whatever's most accessible, who are we to say that they're wrong for wanting a game that simply rewards them rather than challenges them? It isn't freemium games that created that sensibility in users; the players were impatient to begin with, and developers have simply discovered it and are appealing to it. Is that any more predatory than a developer discovering people like really hard one-touch games, then making a game about a bird flying between tubes and making a fortune on ad revenues? In that light, statements that basically amount to "Hey you, have better taste" just strike me as ineffectual.

In a broader sense, you could imply that freemium games engender laziness or other bad habits, but that's as disingenuous as asserting that first-person shooters make people violent.

Xander Freeman says:

There are many obvious conclusions to take from a long standing developer, EA, about why they decided to take a really fun and much adored game franchise, and mix it with Clash of Clans style in game purchase system. I personally enjoy games until they stop being fun, no matter the game I'll try it etc, and I tried Clash of Clans and it was fun like playing a demo in beta is fun, except you aren't allowed to play much more until you're willing to put forth the cash.

Obviously true that Dungeon Keeper fans would be upset over the change, where EA could have easily pleased both parties (like most developers do when releasing a lame imobile vers) and produced a new remake of the game for PC/Xbox Live/Steam/Sony Store etc, and then there wouldn't have been an issue. The most trouble EA would have gotten into would have been from the hardcore nerds who fantasize sexually abusing their dominatrix in the torture chamber, wearing a matching leather unitard, or complaining that they took her out, or put in alternatively sexy game character, which some dedicated fan would then hack the game, create a skin, and we'd all be pleased.

But no, EA. YOU JUST CAME OUT with a game that would keep old fans busy on break or in the john, but not really giving us the gaming credit we alumni deserve. Dungeon Keeper is a fantastically fun game, with a fresh outtake of using dungeons as the goal.

So few games have it where you're the Devil and you get to kill off the good guys and conquer the underworld. I don't always want to agree with the good and "christian" way of saturating the market with so many town building based strategy games where you're constantly a "good" guy, or a third neutral party that, yet, still reflects good natured intent and not the real reason why some or most of us play video games, to do the things we can't and would never do in everyday scenarios. Like smack imps when they're taking too long. Imagine smacking your co worker or children. Doesn't do the same justice as slapping an imp.

That being said, EA. Poor backwards EA. I have played so many of your games, it's like when a beloved music group gets so big they forgot about their original sound and turned into a slower, happier, wealthier sound. The original fans give them respect for still at least writing music, and sure, maybe there are a few good ones still being churned out. But we all pull out their first albums more than anything else. EA did the world a great service by creating Dungeon Keeper, but then they came out with this digitally "Remastered" mp3 of the original... If Satan could see you now.

ThundalArchsys says:

Sorry, dipshit, average play session to be designed for is, and always will be, 8 hours. If you can't dedicate time to gaming, you don't deserve to game.

takopako says:

Loved Dungeon Keep PC (original) game, never knew there was a mobile version, definatelly downloading it! Btw any of you guys know games like Papa's Freezeria http://papasgames.us/papas-freezeria/ (mobile games)? thanks!

PertPlus says:

I understand that this is an old article, but I just read it recently.

If I'm understanding him correctly, he's trying to make the argument that this type of business model, and this game, should be accepted because it's what works best on a mobile platform to maximize profits, regardless of what gamers or fans of the series want. "Accepted", in this context, means, in part, that one chooses to no longer outwardly maintain opposition to this game or others that employ similar game mechanics through formal or informal means of communication, thus avoiding warranted criticism by the author. However, one may continue to harbor doubt or lack of support in the privacy of one's own mind, or, much more acceptably, through the passive role of market discipline, described as "talking with one's wallet", i.e. doing nothing. To negatively engage in other forms of traditional criticism for this particular game, through utilizing 1st amendment protections, is strongly implied to be revealing of the inherent and characteristic elitism and snobbery of the authors involved. It is unclear whether the author believes these labels are mere ad hominem criticisms or a type of moral basis for invalidating their arguments. Acceptance seems to further mean that one abandons unrealistic expectations that a current general computing device that is also capable of being quite easily transported should reliably deliver play experiences that come in larger segments than the short bursts that serve as a rough industry maximum, unless the owner of said device is willing to pay to satisfy those desires. While the author admits that it was a critical mistake to saddle this particular game with such an avaristic overall game structure, he does not believe that other criticisms of this game, divorced from market discipline, are plausible due to a failure to omit game mechanics that involve monetary transactions during their consideration. It is implied that game mechanics that involve the exchange of money should be considered above reproach, because it is tautologically assumed that no grievance is possible due to the intrinsically incompatible and orthogonal stance of the holder of such beliefs. To sum up what I believe is the author's main point, monetary game mechanics described as IAP (in app purchases) are inalienably justified so long as people are willing to pay for them and any moral derision or criticism, even when such IAPs are intrinsically intertwined with the overall aesthetic experience traditionally assigned to art critics, are invalid, because, we can assume, market forces should override aesthetics in consideration of art.

I disagree.