EA's new mobile Dungeon Keeper is free-to-play in the worst possible way, offering up a twisted cartoonish world in which you can progress through the game either by waiting or paying, and people aren't too pleased about it.
"A cynically motivated skeleton of a non-game, a scam that will take your cash and offer nothing in return," writes Escapist's Jim Sterling. "A perversion of a respected series, twisted by some of the most soulless, selfish, and nauseating human beings to ever blight the game industry."
Of course, the iTunes store is stuffed with free-to-play monstrosities and scammy games. Gated progression isn't an anomaly, and it wouldn't be worth too many words if this game had any other name. No, what's really got people like Sterling calling the new Dungeon Keeper "a cancer that is eroding the market" is the fact that it's called Dungeon Keeper.
See, Dungeon Keeper was originally a beloved strategy game. Released in 1997, the Bullfrog-designed god game put you in charge of your very own dungeon and gave you the tools to populate it with all sorts of malevolent traps and creatures as you tried to fight off invading bands of sanctimonious heroes. (The game has aged well, too—you can get it on GOG for $6. No microtransactions!)
Dungeon Keeper is a classic, and that's what's got people fuming. I can't even bring myself to download EA's newest mobile disaster for fear of tainting my memories of hours and hours digging and crafting on the old Bullfrog classic. It freaks me out that this will be some kids' first exposure to Dungeon Keeper and strategy games in general. They might think that 24-hour waiting times are normal, that this is just how these things are supposed to work.
Fahey didn't mind this new Dungeon Keeper, but some other reviews are quite brutal.
"There are hard-working developers and publishers struggling to bring meaningful, beautiful game experiences to mobile platforms," writes USGamer's Pete Davison, "and yet their hard work is undermined by games like this simply seeking to make a quick buck."
"It's like EA saw dollar signs after the success of Clash of Clans, and wanted to clone it in the worst way possible — by using a respectable IP as its skin," writes Destructoid's Chris Carter.
Blech. It's not just reviewers—check out some of the Twitter reactions:
What EA has done with Dungeon Keeper makes me so mad I don't even
— Adam Blue (@AdamBlue) February 3, 2014
that game doesn't deserver the name Dungeon Keeper, nor the characters used in it. A disgrace to the legacy..
— Lets Play with A3D (@Acantophis3rD) February 3, 2014
Omg Dungeon Keeper is now on phones?! Oh, it’s free to play? Digging costs money? Ok, that’s ok. I’mma find a shotgun and shorten my life.
— C418 (@C418) January 31, 2014
New Dungeon Keeper does this immediately after the tutorial. EA lacks class. pic.twitter.com/xpf1893Yvo
— CANDY Stanton (@RichStanton) January 30, 2014
Re: new Dungeon Keeper "EA describes the app as a "twisted" take on Bullfrog's RTS classic". Yes it's twisted alright, and not in a good way
— Michel (@michelmcbride) January 30, 2014
I am surprisingly bothered by the "please wait" version of Dungeon Keeper on mobile. Don't mess with my childhood games, EA!
— Justin Gilman (@eyeofmidas) February 3, 2014
I am really feeling the pain of all those gamers being forced into a terrible f2p nightmare with Dungeon Keeper. Gaming is ruined.
— Steve El-Sharawy (@Stiff) February 3, 2014
Sigh. If this is the future of gaming, we'd better hold on to all of our old discs. At least they can't take those away.