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EA defends 'Dungeon Keeper' paywall with positive ratings, neglects manipulation

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EA came to the defense of its mobile reboot of "Dungeon Keeper" Wednesday that requires spending to progress, citing positive user reviews online, but failed to acknowledge how the "Free to Play" game encourages those reviews.

Based on the classic 1997 PC strategy game, EA's "Dungeon Keeper" relaunch for iOS and Android devises has received backlash from critics for structuring its gameplay around in-app purchases. Criticism such as NerdCube's explicit video detailing how the microtransactions slows the game down and shamefully exploits the player. Or Metro's 0/10 review, where the only positive comment made was that "Older smartphones aren't compatible" with the game. This Baekdal opinion piece even cites "Dungeon Keeper" as the biggest example of in-app purchases ruining the industry.

In an interview with TabTimes, EA Mythic’s Jeff Skalski, addressed the harsh criticism of "Dungeon Keeper" exploiting players for greed, than giving them a fun game on the go. He went over the game's microtransaction structure and how the development team behind played 15 weeks before launch as free players, to make sure it was enjoyable without spending any money. He then cited positive user reviews on the iOS and Google Play store to show there are people enjoying the mobile version of "Dungeon Keeper."

At the time of this interview, App Store ratings currently sit at 4 out of 5 stars and Google Play ratings sit at 4.5 out of 5 stars. We’re also seeing a lot of game downloads and in-game engagement so that tells us there is a large group of people who are playing and enjoying the game. Obviously, this is counter to some of the angry reactions we’ve seen around the internet, so we’re still trying to look at all of these data points.

However, Skalski neglects to mention the way "Dungeon Keeper" encourages positive reviews from the player. As shown on NeoGAF, an in-game popup will appear in "Dungeon Keeper" that says a 5-star rating would help them provide free content in the future. Trying to give the game a 1-4 star rating prompts another popup that makes you email them about feedback on the low score and improvements you want to see, wasting the player's time. Clicking on the 5-star rating is quicker in comparison, as it only takes you back to the online store to rate the game.

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