Free to play games have gotten a bad reputation, and it is deserved. Dozens of ‘free’ games are at best un-fun and at worse entirely unplayable without spending money within the game, and the companies behind the games are shameless about it. They must be because they keep making them, as the remake of Dungeon Keeper on Android proves. Just in case there is any doubt, however, the original game’s creator has seen this remake and agrees that it is absurd:
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…
EA’s remake is in the category of free to play that takes hours and hours and hours longer than anyone would consider fun if players don’t spend money to speed things up. It might seem a bit extreme to call upon a figure like Molyneux to comment on such a blatant example of digital exploitation, but this remake in particular needs a bit of attention drawn to it since it redirects negative reviews.
If someone gives this mobile Dungeon Keeper a 5-star review, they are sent to the Google Play page to post it, as per usual. If they instead select from 1-4 stars, they are sent to EA’s feedback submission page. While the company claims this is so they can “collect valuable feedback from players who don’t feel the game is worth a top rating,” it is a little too obvious of a feedback control mechanism for a game with such obvious for-profit mechanics.
Nostalgia is a powerful tool to sell to long-time gamers, but publishers should be aware it is also a double-edged sword. The types of gamers who remember the original Dungeon Keeper fondly (like me) are also the types of gamers who will remember such blatantly exploitive efforts for a long time. Nostalgia wouldn’t work without that kind of memory, and everyone who was looking forward to a new Dungeon Keeper can be counted on to remember not to trust EA with future remakes or reboots, with or without Molyneux to tell us it’s garbage.