EA CEO Responds to Dungeon Keeper Microtransaction Criticisms

Andrew Wilson says, "We misjudged the economy."

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When Electronic Arts released a new free-to-play Dungeon Keeper game for mobile devices earlier this year, the game was immediately blasted by some for its use of microtransactions. Now, EA CEO Andrew Wilson--who became top executive at the company just a few months before the game was released--has chimed in on the matter, offering his take in an interview published today at Eurogamer.

"For new players, it was kind of a cool game," Wilson said. "For people who'd grown up playing Dungeon Keeper there was a disconnect there. In that aspect, we didn't walk that line as well as we could have. And that's a shame."

Wilson also acknowledged that Dungeon Keeper's microtransaction system left much to be desired. "We misjudged the economy," he said.

"Whether it's a dollar, $10, $100 or $1000, you have to delivering value, and always err on the side of delivering more value, not less" -- Andrew Wilson

Wilson went on to say that EA has learned from the critical response to Dungeon Keeper. He explained that when building a new entry in a classic franchise, developers need to make sure the "essence" of the property remains intact. A good example of this, Wilson said, was J.J. Abrams' 2009 action movie Star Trek, which was based on the classic sci-fi series but offered an altogether fresh take on it.

"As we look forward, the two lessons we get are, one, where you are dealing with IP that has existed in the past, even though you're reinventing it for a new audience, you have to do your best to stay true to its essence," Wilson said. "And that's a challenge. The Star Trek J.J. Abrams [made] was very different from the first season I watched, but I still felt good about it."

"The second is, when you're thinking about any business model, premium, subscription, free-to-play, value has to exist," he added. "Whether it's a dollar, $10, $100 or $1000, you have to delivering value, and always err on the side of delivering more value, not less."

Eurogamer's report also includes quotes from industry veteran Peter Molyneux, who worked on the original Dungeon Keeper at Bullfrog Productions. He said EA's newly released Dungeon Keeper is simply a poorly balanced game. This, along with the fact that so many people have such fond memories of the game, led to such vehement criticisms, he argued.

"I don't think anyone would be so against the monetization loops if they came in a lot later and a lot more gentle," Molyneux said. "But it is so in your face."

"This is what I thought: they forgot the spirit of what Dungeon Keeper was," he added. "It was good to be bad. Getting people to giggle with the pleasure of being bad. It was a mixture of an RTS and a tower defense turned on its head. And rather than taking that further they stuck it there."

Molyneux said EA offered to let him look at the new Dungeon Keeper before it was released, but he was too busy to do so. "I felt bad about that," he said.

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