Much-maligned online game Evony has responded to a recent investigation by Ars Technica, clearing up some questions about the company while muddying the waters on others.
Evony has been plagued by allegations of shadiness and sleaze since it went online in May 2009, a reputation not helped by its infamous and increasingly boobtastic series of ads. The game has taken heat for everything from its spam-like marketing campaigns to accusations that its client software is actually malware and that the company behind it is connected with some pretty greasy Chinese gold farming operations. Yet very soon after Ars Technica's report on the state of the game, two interesting things happened: It dropped a lawsuit against U.K. blogger Bruce Everiss and it put two executives in touch with Ars for a follow-up.
The result is an interesting look at the game from the other side of the fence which unfortunately does little to clear up the confusion surrounding it. One of the two men who spoke with Ars, Walter Yarbrough, has a long history in the MMOG industry, primarily with Dark Age of Camelot, and has served as a producer at Electronic Arts and executive producer at Turbine. As the article noted, "His involvement with Evony makes the game seem less dubious than we had initially been led to believe." Yarbrough explained that, contrary to many reports, players are not forced to pay to get all the game's content, but that like many other free-to-play MMOGs, Evony "sells convenience" for players who don't want to rely on the randomness of the game to progress.
The pair touched on several other topics as well, pointing out that the Evony website has been updated to include a Google certification that it contains "absolutely no malware" and that the infamous ads are being phased out, but things got a little hazy again when Benjamin Gifford, Evony's vice development director for the legal and IP strategic division, attempted to explain why Evony chose to drop its lawsuit against blogger Bruce Everiss after only two days of testimony.
Gifford claimed that the suit was dropped in response to the Evony fan base, which was largely against it, but an earlier report by The Guardian suggested that the case may have actually been sunk by Gifford's unreliable testimony. Transcripts of that testimony, which Ars acquired after the interview, would seem to support that theory; while Gifford was "open and truthful" in the interview about the fact that he doesn't actually possess a BA and MBA as was claimed in Evony press releases, he was far more evasive about the matter in court, contradicting himself several times and eventually being forced to admit that he'd lied.
If this was any other game, it'd be easy enough to believe that Gifford just got caught up in promoting a new game and let things go too far, but because of Evony's checkered past, he likely won't be able to get away with it quite that easily. Still, it sounds like Evony might be on the road to redemption, if Yarbrough and Gifford can be believed. Can they? Read the whole thing at arstechnica.com and decide for yourself.