Ars Technica has published an in-depth investigation into Evony, the "free" online game with the notorious advertising campaign that continues to weave a tangled web of shady behavior.
Even if you've never played Evony, you've almost certainly stumbled on at least a few of its online ads featuring scantily-clad ladies and the promise of free online strategy action with millions of players around the world. The ads have grown increasingly suggestive, some would say ridiculous, since the game launched, with a few going as far as to feature nothing but a pair of healthy, barely-covered breasts. On the upside, Evony inspired a far more entertaining spoof campaign from PopCap, which used a similar motif (albeit with an undead twist) for the mega-hit Plants vs. Zombies.
But Evony has been plagued by allegations of shadiness and for good reason, as revealed by a new Ars Technica investigation into the game. The game is advertised as being free to play, but the reality is somewhat different, as various fees suddenly start to pop up after the game's early levels are completed. Worse, while numerous players who have paid to play have reported unexplained disappearances of their in-game "coins," Evony's customer service appears to have no interest in doing anything about it.
There are also allegations that Evony's client software includes invasive tracking software which "harvest massive amounts of information" when the game is running. Those claims are particularly alarming, according to the report, because of Evony's association with other companies which have also been accused of bad, sometimes fraudulent, behavior. There's even a link to the infamous World of Warcraft ripoff, World of LordCraft. Yet criticism remains muted because of the company's litigious approach to any negative commentary, most famously the lawsuit against blogger Bruce Everiss, which is still underway.
How does such a dodgy game continue to operate unfettered? That part, unfortunately, isn't really nailed down, but it's nonetheless a very interesting and informative look at the game and the people behind it, and definitely worth a read. Check out the whole thing (I know the boobs can be distracting, but be sure to read the second page, too) at arstechnica.com.