Update 2: EA Dismisses Dungeon Keeper Mobile Criticism

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So is it me, or are most of the 5 star reviews on the Android store dated before the game even released? Like, October and November last year?

Yeah, that's not suspicious at all.

leahy5:
Update 3

EA have responded to Euro Gamer about their shady ratings process.
Their response is not going to win anyone over.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-02-06-dungeon-keeper-androids-rating-system-filters-out-1-4-star-reviews

UPDATE 9.07pm: EA Mobile has responded to allegations that the publisher was up to something sneaky by filtering 1-4 star in-app reviews of Dungeon Keeper away from the Google Play Store so players could e-mail feeback instead. A spokesperson for the publisher offered 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.

You know what? I knew they'd say that. I fucking CALLED it (in my head). Hell, I even considered saying it myself to try my hand at playing devil's advocate.

Yes, EA, anyone can rate it if they want, but the fact is 1. Most people don't give enough of a shit to find their way to the page 2. You forwarded anyone who offered a 5-Star rating to the rating page and shunted everyone else to an inconvenient support ticket. You are deliberately messing with the ratings and you know it.

leahy5:
Update 3

EA have responded to Euro Gamer about their shady ratings process.
Their response is not going to win anyone over.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-02-06-dungeon-keeper-androids-rating-system-filters-out-1-4-star-reviews

UPDATE 9.07pm: EA Mobile has responded to allegations that the publisher was up to something sneaky by filtering 1-4 star in-app reviews of Dungeon Keeper away from the Google Play Store so players could e-mail feeback instead. A spokesperson for the publisher offered 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.

Wow. It takes a certain level of stupidity to defend the indefensible, but that doesn't seem to stop them.

Their PR department could use a lesson on the rule of holes.

Wow. That's just... Wow.

Normally I'm okay with F2P games and micro transactions. But EA really went too far with this kind of model. Say what you want about games like Angry Birds, at least I'm not forced to pay everytime I pop a few pigs. Plus, despite it's micro transactions, the stuff they offer is completely optional AND you can get each one for free daily.

Same goes for TF2. You can pretty much get all the items in that game for free if you spent enough time playing it.

I hope EA is properly punished for this.

I'm honestly not sure if the man who sold virtual picks for real money to unlock an unknown virtual something inside of a virtual cube, with that something turning out to be a transient position in an upcoming game criticizing this makes him the worst kind of hypocrite, the most positive proof yet that EA has been going waaay too far, or both.

But then again I do notice Peter Molyneux seems to have left it as "Didn't get it quite right" and mentioned the time that it took to dig, he didn't seem to specifically address the monetization of block removal in a dungeon keeper game in of itself.... which is kind of ridiculous given that it's the central mechanic of the entire game arguably as opposed to something extra your buying.

Ratings get bought and sold all the time in the mobile market, my boss's manager pulled that on us during my last internship.

Suffice to say I'm not going for a job in that particular field anymore, I'll eventually hang myself if I do.

Sneaky motherfuckers. Don't fall back into old habits EA. You've been doing so well lately, not making a complete arse of yourself.

What baffles me is why they thought this game was FOR. Surely anyone unfamiliar or disinterested in the DKeeper franchise wouldn't want to spent increments of time and wads of money there, while anyone who WAS into the kooky Strategy / Management PC titles... well, their complaints echoed before the game even was available.

I suppose while I'm not surprised, it's puzzling and depressing all the same. The larger EA apparatus may be made of baby tears and blood money, but there must be enough smart creative people within the company to point out how things like this might be prone to failure, or is that 20 lashes at the lawn logo at this point?

Maybe it's worse than that. Maybe EA are right, the voices of sanity are wrong and the many heads of the hydra are making mad bank.

I'm just stunned. Nobody caught it.

Folks, a few years back, another stinker came out based on a nostalgic piece of video game fun. It was called Duke Nukem Forever and it stunned everyone as to its putridity. But the reaction of the one of the founders of its developer truly sets up the parallel with this article.

Rough paraphrasing for those who didn't follow the link:

Critics: "Duke Nukem Forever is utterly horrible!"

Gearbox Co-Founder: "Ah, but people bought it anyway, didn't they? I guess people like to buy "horrible" games, huh?"

Kinda puts EA's wonderful statement about Dungeon Keeper Mobile in perspective, doesn't it? These guys are out there, running businesses that are supposed to be providing entertainment and they seem to be of the opinion that if people are too stupid to not buy garbage, it's not their responsibility to provide anything other than an unending parade of dumpsters.

So don't expect these arrogant nimrods to be apologetic or sympathetic to you or the people they screw over. They're going to keep doing it and justifying it with their profits (any guesses on how much this train wreck cost to produce? I know the numbers will never be published but if it was more than a million, EA got robbed and thank gods they did) until everyone smartens up and stops buying what they're selling.

II2:
What baffles me is why they thought this game was FOR. Surely anyone unfamiliar or disinterested in the DKeeper franchise wouldn't want to spent increments of time and wads of money there, while anyone who WAS into the kooky Strategy / Management PC titles... well, their complaints echoed before the game even was available.

I suppose while I'm not surprised, it's puzzling and depressing all the same. The larger EA apparatus may be made of baby tears and blood money, but there must be enough smart creative people within the company to point out how things like this might be prone to failure, or is that 20 lashes at the lawn logo at this point?

Maybe it's worse than that. Maybe EA are right, the voices of sanity are wrong and the many heads of the hydra are making mad bank.

I've been putting some thought into that myself. I think the target audience is middle aged nerds with both lots of money and lots of nostalgia. The thing is that Dungeon Keeper isn't the first game like this. Another infamous one that got a lot of attention recently was "Star Trek: Trexels" which generated a lot of the same furor and raised the question of "who is this game for". It also garnered a lot of the same defenses in that it's locking of content behind huge timers that could only be overcome with real money (in Trexel's case it has to do with accumulating resources to unlock missions), and the same defense that people complaining about this were "playing it wrong" since the game was intended to be checked in on a couple of times a day like a virtual pet or whatever, rather than actually played seriously.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_AgjWkNGew

That right there pretty much covers it. I think it's also been mentioned on The Escapist a couple of times before (heck this is probably where I heard about it).

At any rate the bottom line is that this whole "popular nerd IP turned into a low-grade mobile game that requires scads of cash constantly pumped into it to be played anything like the game it's supposed to be, but defended as some kind of virtual pet/management sim hybrid" is not new, as I get the impression "Trexels" wasn't even the first. EA even seems to be kind of late in jumping into this.

If I had to guess the idea here is that the target audience are people who can afford to play these games, and do so in part simply because they can. There is a lot of elitism among nerds, and the idea is that the guy who say plays "Trexels" is better than you because he can do it and you can't. It would not be the first product of it's kind, yet it would be the first time we've seen this on mobile gaming platforms. Basically your nerd who raves about things like Dungeon Keeper, can feel more "elite" because he can pay a dollar a block or whatever to build a dungeon on his mobile phone, where other nerds who have not succeeded as well cannot do so, and can only QQ about it... sort of like little orphan boys looking sadly at toy stores and what kids with parents can have in a Charles Dickens novel.

To be honest I do not do a lot of mobile gaming, simply put all the ones I'm interested in trying aren't out for the Kindle, and a Smartphone/iPhone is something I have chosen to do without. However from what I have on the Kindle (which cannot play that bloody Ultima game I've been drooling over) it seems that these heavily microtransaction oriented "freemium" games seem to be on the high end of the spectrum for mobile games, which seems to be part of the lure and presumably why they would be a status symbol.

Mostly in thinking about it I've tried to put it into the context of things that have come before. While it was longer ago than most Escapist users have been following games (and probably long before they were born) we indeed DID see something vaguely like this before. Back when personal telecommunications was in it's infancy and people were being nerds with their 300 - 1200 baud modems (I remember when I was all excited to upgrade to 2400 baud), most online gaming took place on BBS systems with games like "Yankee Trader", "Land Of Devestation", "Arena", "Sinbaud", and of course the ever present and popular "Trade Wars" which was the spiritual predecessor to EVE. Most of these games could only be played by one person at a time but the program would save the moves of each player who had so many turns per day, so potentially dozens of people could be playing and competing with each other in the same game, especially on a BBS that might have more than one phone line hooked into it.... at least that is what most nerds did online for gaming and kicks (including me). Along with that you of course had premium services, which were much more advanced than BBS systems, and required their own special clients just to login to. AoL, CompuServe, Prodigy, Q-Link, PC-Link and others, and these sites all had their own special games that were far more advanced than anything BBSes could run, ranging from professional grade text MUDs, to things like the forgotten "Club Cairbe" which ran over Q-link and could quite possibly be considered the first actual graphical MMO. The thing is the services that ran these games didn't charge you monthy fees, or even by the hour (usually), they charged by the minute for premium time. This means someone could basically be paying like $1.00 per minute to run around Club Cairbe and chat with people while engaging in scavenger hunts, which was even more money back then than it is now. The thing is people actually DID this, and enough did it in order for there to be multiple services of this type all fighting with each other for a while. I was a kid at the time so all I could do is sit there and boggle at how cool some of these games were when I actually heard about them or ran into someone who spent the money to play them for a bit. Understanding how crazy this was, I did indeed ask why someone would pay $1 a minute to run around Club Cairbe, swap heads around from vending machines, and do gender reversals to themselves in "The Swedish Room" while "adventuring" with the so called "Adventurers guild" and maybe occasionally harassing someone with a Jump Wand the answer was pretty much "because I can, and not many other people can either". That was kind of the thing, if you were there you were sort of nerd elite, either someone who was a rich nerd, or so dedicated to things nerds like that you were literally willing to break yourself financially to be at the peak.

The point of my rambling is that the only thing that these games could possibly be, given their success, is some kind of crazy status symbol like that which EA and similar companies are more than willing to cater to, much like the old premium services did with a lot of their stuff. That's why you keep seeing it happening, despite the backlash from regular gamers, the gaming media, and everyone else, and why people are still buying it. The only way I could think to justify Dungeon Keeper in this form would be if the point of it is so two rich nerds who happen to be doctors or whatever could both show off their respective dungeons and "how nerdy they are" by how much money they spent and how much time they put into it doing so. The complaints of someone like Jim Sterling going "70 bloody pounds for 14000 Gems, and that's a "best value"?!?!?!?" is sort of the point, the people paying that do so specifically because someone like Jim Sterling can't afford to pay that just to show off how trivial such an expense is to his friends. Sort of like how if you hung out in Club Cairbe for a couple of hours, you just blew $120 (or whatever it was) you achieved nothing really except to show that you can do it, and are nerdy enough to do it there.

Update: As confirmed by Gamasutra, EA has a rather sneaky way of getting all those 5-star reviews that Skalski values so much. When the game asks you to rate it on Android and you choose to give it less than 5 stars, it doesn't allow you to do so, and instead asks you to message the company with your feedback. Of course, if you pick 5-stars you can still alter your rating later, but nonetheless, it's a pretty underhanded tactic.

Are you fucking kidding me? Why do people tolerate stuff like this?

That is insane!

Pretty bloody crooked, EA...but that's what I've come to expect from them by now. This is just the latest in a long and foul-smelling string of PR failures and anti-consumer-protections revelations.

Google should look into these fraudulent/fake reviews on this.

this is shaping up to be the simcity fiasco all over again. you can tell someone just saw they had the IP said "yeah that'll work for a quicky mobile cash grab no one will give a rats ass about" and its blown up in their faces and destroyed all the good PR they had been working on, and the fact they have been fudging the rating systems is the bit crappy icing on the cake

Just as an aside... for anyone who hasn't played the game, it would be like releasing Warcraft on smartphone, only making it so that each time you send a peasant to mine gold it takes them 24 hours to bring back a single bag. And the game offers to speed it up if you pay five dollars.

Also, my brief experience with the game is that it's always-online for no good reason. Everything wrong with contemporary gaming has made it into this one title.

II2:
What baffles me is why they thought this game was FOR. Surely anyone unfamiliar or disinterested in the DKeeper franchise wouldn't want to spent increments of time and wads of money there, while anyone who WAS into the kooky Strategy / Management PC titles... well, their complaints echoed before the game even was available.

They pulled the same stupid shit with Syndicate back in the day and it seemed they didn't learn a single thing from that travesty.
How did Yathzee put it:
People who could be interested in your game, won't be fans of the original franchise and people that are fans of the original franchise, will want to burn your office down.

Raging at a company is one thing, but directing personal responsibility is another. Jeff Skalski is not just a faceless name on the internet. He is a real person, in senior management, partly responsible for this mess. Ladies and gentlemen.

Amaror:

II2:
What baffles me is why they thought this game was FOR. Surely anyone unfamiliar or disinterested in the DKeeper franchise wouldn't want to spent increments of time and wads of money there, while anyone who WAS into the kooky Strategy / Management PC titles... well, their complaints echoed before the game even was available.

They pulled the same stupid shit with Syndicate back in the day and it seemed they didn't learn a single thing from that travesty.
How did Yathzee put it:
People who could be interested in your game, won't be fans of the original franchise and people that are fans of the original franchise, will want to burn your office down.

The full quote:

"What is the point of slapping a 90's tactical shooters name recognition on a generic modern shooter if most people who like generic modern shooters won't remember the name and people that do remember will want to set your office on fire. You won't endear yourself for offering to rape my mum for 50 bucks."

BunnyKillBot:

Do not rage at the brick wall of corporate obscurification. Job security is a far more powerful motivator.

Considering that "brick wall" signs his paychecks, raging at him is a futile gesture at best.

Living Contradiction:

Folks, a few years back, another stinker came out based on a nostalgic piece of video game fun. It was called Duke Nukem Forever and it stunned everyone as to its putridity.

Speak for yourself; DNF turned out exactly as I thought it would. For the many years that game was in Development Hell, I said it would be mediocre at best, or a jumbled mess at worst just because games that get stuck in Dev Hell for so long NEVER do well.

So don't expect these arrogant nimrods to be apologetic or sympathetic to you or the people they screw over. They're going to keep doing it and justifying it with their profits (any guesses on how much this train wreck cost to produce? I know the numbers will never be published but if it was more than a million, EA got robbed and thank gods they did) until everyone smartens up and stops buying what they're selling.

This however, this is dead on the money.
EA has found a way to twist user feedback to their benefit, and apparently, it's working. Otherwise, the reaction we see here would be closer to that of the disastrous Sim City launch last year. (or those who hold out hope can try "If you have to publicly claim that there is no problem, there's obviously a problem.")

We COULD be rid of these awful business practices (obvious "Freemium" price-gouging, and rape of great IP/Game Concepts), but we won't because the gullible sheep keep giving the assholes money.

In the meantime, Loadout offers a tight Free to Play experience that pays for itself with cosmetic upgrades. The game itself is free, but I enjoyed the weapon-crafting system so much that I figured I might throw the devs a bone. Twenty bucks later, I have a customized character and paid exactly what I WOULD have paid for something like this. I don't need to give the devs one extra cent to get the full package.

This, EA, is Free to Play done right!

Atmos Duality:

We COULD be rid of these awful business practices (obvious "Freemium" price-gouging, and rape of great IP/Game Concepts), but we won't because the gullible sheep keep giving the assholes money.

Actually, there might be a solution. There are places where the apathetic and the uncaring don't matter. If this issue were made legislative, people who play the games but don't sufficiently care either way wouldn't vote, or would vote at random and be uninfluential towards the outcome. On the other hand, people who are actually informed about these issues, who are passionate about these actions, would vote and support such a bill. Given that these practices are indefensible to the informed, such a bill would pass easily in absence of lobbying. Such lobbying costs money, and while EA would be able to do so, it would hurt them the only place they care about: their wallets, in a way that a boycott wouldn't come close given the large number of uninformed people in the market.

Even if EA attempts to fight such a bill in court, court battles cost major amounts of money. If such a bill were to be voted on, no matter what EA does, EA loses, whether small or large.

If only that were easily accomplished...

Madmonk12345:

Actually, there might be a solution. There are places where the apathetic and the uncaring don't matter. If this issue were made legislative, people who play the games but don't sufficiently care either way wouldn't vote, or would vote at random and be uninfluential towards the outcome. On the other hand, people who are actually informed about these issues, who are passionate about these actions, would vote and support such a bill. Given that these practices are indefensible to the informed, such a bill would pass easily in absence of lobbying. Such lobbying costs money, and while EA would be able to do so, it would hurt them the only place they care about: their wallets, in a way that a boycott wouldn't come close given the large number of uninformed people in the market.

Even if EA attempts to fight such a bill in court, court battles cost major amounts of money. If such a bill were to be voted on, no matter what EA does, EA loses, whether small or large.

If only that were easily accomplished...

There is a real consumer rights issue here, there might even be some unsettling questions about how games are being used akin to the practices of gambling websites; using the basic ideas of reward and play to assemble a deceitful shell of a 'game' who's sole purpose is to be just functional enough to entice people but be so wholly crippled it forces people to continually pour money into it like a gambling machine. It's disgraceful. EA is bringing further shame on our beleaguered industry and hastening a situation where people are so sick of practices like this they will forgo going altogether.

Games like this should be covered by consumer protection like every other product on the planet is. We should be able to sue EA into the next century for bringing out a game that is DESIGNED to trick people in the worst, most disgusting ways possible. This game has committed fraud in my eyes; covering a underhanded cash-grab by lying to consumers and hijacking the ratings system, filtering out all dissenting voices.

I still don't understand why people are upset. War for the Overworld is just around the corner and Dungeon Keeper 2 is available on GoG. Hell, I only got DK2 last year and I think it's a great game. Holds up with modern games just fine.

When Peter Molyneux is calling you out for your BS use of in-app microtransactions, you really need to take a hard look in the mirror

I'm convinced at this point that EA is run entirely by trolls.

Scrumpmonkey:
Games like this should be covered by consumer protection like every other product on the planet is. We should be able to sue EA into the next century for bringing out a game that is DESIGNED to trick people in the worst, most disgusting ways possible. This game has committed fraud in my eyes; covering a underhanded cash-grab by lying to consumers and hijacking the ratings system, filtering out all dissenting voices.

Sadly, I don't see any major strides coming regarding content fraud in the future. Oh sure, laws have been passed that make usury, mail fraud, and predatory collection illegal but there are still quickie loan shops, heavy-handed collection agencies, and "as-seen-on-TV" con artists floating about the world, some with brick and mortar shops that make cheerful profit on the backs of those who don't know any better. Hell, one of the most blatant and joked about tactics involves Nigerian princes and offers that make even the most cynical netizens go "Oh come on! That old thing?", but they wouldn't still be talked about in the present tense if people weren't still going, "Why yes! I'd love to have a slice of twenty-seven million dollars. Here's my bank account number!"

If such a law existed, it could be gotten around or argued against and that's if anyone managed to get enough people to register a complaint. And if such a law existed, it could be abused to the point of parody. Remember the rage that rippled through the Internet over the Mass Effect ending? Imagine if a content fraud law existed. In the face of a lawsuit of that size, EA would've dropped Bioware like a hot rock and we most certainly would not be receiving another installation of Dragon Age.

How about news sites? Can you imagine how badly governments or corporations could abuse such a law, stating that a news provider was committing content fraud and distributing clearly erroneous information about its practices? We already have libel laws that get worn to the point of paper-thinness and we've seen the childish "You said bad things about me so I'm gonna make you pay" attitude that publishers and developers have used against critics in the past. They could take more substantial and damaging action with a content fraud law, grinding dissenters into the dirt and leaving only sycophants to trumpet the beauty of the crappy practices that the law was created to fight against.

Raising consumer awareness and educating people so they know enough not to buy into these shams is what is needed. Point out the lazy/corrupt journalism of sites that give tripe like Dungeon Keeper Mobile comments of "Great mix of building, resource management, and combat." Hammer away at the corporate shills and "praise for cash" monkeys in our midst. Don't just not buy into the ripoffs that these companies sell; quit supporting them entirely. And whenever you can, if you see people buying into these scams, take them aside (even if you don't know them), put an actual game in their hands and give them a small talk about consumer responsibility and good gaming.

samaugsch:

FogHornG36:
Ea dismisses criticism, saying, "We don't give a shit about what you think, and never have, now give us your money."

Given how much effort they put into advertising, it's more like they pretend to care until you pay them, and then pretty much ignore you.

Ad-agencies in a nutshell.

IamLEAM1983:

I'm probably pushing it, but couldn't this be worth some pressure at the Better Business Bureau?

Considering that it's user-feedback that's being manipulated, and that said feedback directly gives the game more exposure on the android market for reasons OTHER than its actual merits, I'd say this is legitimately worth forwarding to the BBB.

Madmonk12345:

Actually, there might be a solution. There are places where the apathetic and the uncaring don't matter. If this issue were made legislative, people who play the games but don't sufficiently care either way wouldn't vote, or would vote at random and be uninfluential towards the outcome. On the other hand, people who are actually informed about these issues, who are passionate about these actions, would vote and support such a bill. Given that these practices are indefensible to the informed, such a bill would pass easily in absence of lobbying. Such lobbying costs money, and while EA would be able to do so, it would hurt them the only place they care about: their wallets, in a way that a boycott wouldn't come close given the large number of uninformed people in the market.

Even if EA attempts to fight such a bill in court, court battles cost major amounts of money. If such a bill were to be voted on, no matter what EA does, EA loses, whether small or large.

If only that were easily accomplished...

Hmmm. Reverse-lobbying. Of course, it's pretty expensive to lobby to begin with, AND Big Media is already in good with the US lobby system already. It'd need a concerted effort, but without serious public support it'd be easily dismissed.

Wow. And here I was thinking that EA had, maybe, started to do some sensible (or at least approaching sensible) things. 'Haha, nope', says they, as they proceed to take a three foot long shit on the collective faces of the consumers. 'Wow EA, you really are working to fix that whole worst company business aren't you', says one internet denizen, his voice brimming with sarcasm thick enough to cut with a knife.

I think we need Hanlon's Razor here. "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Do I think EA thought "You know what? I think I'll screw over my consumers, the people my company needs to survive?" No, I don't. I'm not defending the game, mind you, if only because I've not played it. As for the user feedback, perhaps EA was thinking "If my customers aren't giving 5-star ratings, they must have a problem with it. I'll set up a system for them to let us know what the reasons are for not giving us the highest ratings." But, because it was EA doing it, it blew up in their faces.

In short, I'm calling this a bad move that got blown way out of proportion by being attached to EA's name.

Interesting question - does this 'game' warrant taking away the Zero Punctuation worst game ever award from 'Ride to Hell: Retribution' and giving it to this in-app purchasing system.... if it qualifies as enough of a game to allow it to get the award.

thebobmaster:
I think we need Hanlon's Razor here. "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

As for the user feedback, perhaps EA was thinking "If my customers aren't giving 5-star ratings, they must have a problem with it. I'll set up a system for them to let us know what the reasons are for not giving us the highest ratings."

In order for this to be accidental, we have to find some ground that demonstrates EA's ignorance.
So, lets examine how the system works:

Game ends and presents a screen asking how the user rates the game on a numerical system of 1-5.
So right away, we know that EA is aware of the Google Store rating system.

There are two buttons:
Rating 1-4 OR Perfect 5.

Clicking on 1-4 asks the user to do one of two things:
1) Send a message indicating why they aren't rating Dungeon Keeper a 5/5.
2) "Not now" (Skips the rest of the rating system entirely and exits the game)

Did you notice what's missing?
The rating the button asked for.

Well, this could just be them wanting to know why the user would rate it less than a 5, not that they could actually rate it in game.

So what does the "5/5!" button do?
Clicking this button opens a page DIRECTLY TO THE GOOGLE STORE RATING SYSTEM, where the user can then proceed to give the game any rating they want; ironically, including something LESS than a 5/5.
If they knew how to program this into the 5/5 rating button, why wasn't it included in the 1-4 rating button as well?

But maybe we can stretch our benefit of doubt even further, and suggest it was AAAALL just a big oversight on EA's part and that they're really sorry for unintentionally misleading everyone, which lead to an obviously-inflated rating for their game. We have a method for malice, but perhaps EA can demonstrate that wasn't their motive, right?

...And then EA opened their mouth.
EA didn't respond to criticism with "Whoops, our bad." they dismissed it outright by bragging about their Google Store Rating. So, now we have a clear motive that matches their method.

CONCLUSION: It was no accident, this was quite obviously a ploy to filter out negative ratings.
It's definitely malice, not stupidity, and undoubtedly a calculated risk.

EA launched a game they knew would get torn apart by critics and the vocal public, but are banking on the ignorance of the masses (in how the google ratings scheme) to turn a profit anyway.

It's not hard to fix either: all they had to do was include the link to the Store Rating system in the 1-4 along with the user feedback. But they didn't, and they demonstrate no intention to fix it.

Therumancer:
I'm honestly not sure if the man who sold virtual picks for real money to unlock an unknown virtual something inside of a virtual cube, with that something turning out to be a transient position in an upcoming game criticizing this makes him the worst kind of hypocrite, the most positive proof yet that EA has been going waaay too far, or both.

But then again I do notice Peter Molyneux seems to have left it as "Didn't get it quite right" and mentioned the time that it took to dig, he didn't seem to specifically address the monetization of block removal in a dungeon keeper game in of itself.... which is kind of ridiculous given that it's the central mechanic of the entire game arguably as opposed to something extra your buying.

This is a fantastic post that I'd frame into a picture and hung inside the study.
If I cared about mobile games. And wasn't so lazy. And had a study.

Amaror:

How did Yathzee put it:
People who could be interested in your game, won't be fans of the original franchise and people that are fans of the original franchise, will want to burn your office down.

But how else are we supposed to make money off of games? Spend time and energy on testing out new concepts? What a waste of company resources. You can just copy and strip down an existing brand, 'monetize' it and ship it, while capitilizing on both name recognition and controversy of people who have a dear place in their heart for the game.

Did you consider efficiency at all before you quoted yahtzee? I guess so. That's why you used his words instead of your own. If you can just figure out how to monetize this quoting business, then the transformation will be complete. Welcome to the dark side.

What's this? Bad game poorly implemented? Shady tactics to obtain high ratings? Talking down to your consumers?

Ooo it looks like EA is starting to campaign for the Worst Company of 2014!

We've still got a few months to go before The Consumerist starts the polls, but this is a strong start for the company. Looks like they're dead set on making this a Hat Trick. I'm giddy with anticipation to see how they'll follow this up. Are we going to have another huge fiasco like Sim City of last year? Or maybe they will just slowly whittle away at our good graces with poor decision after poor decision. It looks like EA is going to have a good year.

dunam:

But how else are we supposed to make money off of games? Spend time and energy on testing out new concepts? What a waste of company resources. You can just copy and strip down an existing brand, 'monetize' it and ship it, while capitilizing on both name recognition and controversy of people who have a dear place in their heart for the game.

Did you consider efficiency at all before you quoted yahtzee? I guess so. That's why you used his words instead of your own. If you can just figure out how to monetize this quoting business, then the transformation will be complete. Welcome to the dark side.

Owh, damn let me put this right.

How did Yathzee put it:

View Yathzee's quote for only 3,99.
You can also choose to get half the quote for 2,99.
Our customer favourite is getting to view the Quote TWICE! for only 5,99.
But only the best get the best value when they purchase our elite Tier offering to view the quote 10 times and giving you the special link to the video were the quote originated from for only 49,99!
Get it NOW.

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