EA Mobile Boss Says Mobile Dungeon Keeper ‘Innovated Too Much’

by Mike Futter on Jul 10, 2014 at 03:31 AM

EA is speaking up about this year’s mobile Dungeon Keeper reboot. The free-to-play title, which is based on Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper PC series, was maligned by gamers for having an overly aggressive monetization scheme, but its struggles have been interpreted differently by EA’s mobile boss Frank Gibeau.

In an interview with Games Industry International, Gibeau says that the company didn’t market the game well enough and that Mythic’s (since shuttered by EA) take on the game ultimately deviated too much from the original titles. “I think we might have innovated too much or tried some different things that people just weren't ready for,” Gibeau said. “Or, frankly, were not in tune with what the brand would have allowed us to do.”

EA CEO Andrew Wilson spoke more bluntly about it in an interview with Eurogamer. He admits that EA “misjudged” the monetization. “For people who'd grown up playing Dungeon Keeper there was a disconnect there,” he said. “In that aspect we didn't walk that line as well as we could have. And that's a shame.””

Complaints about the title and its promotional materials ultimately led the UK’s advertising standards authority to clamp down on use of the word “free” in relation to the title. EA was found at fault for “misleading advertising.” 

As it was the first offense, the punishment was simply to cease using the advertising in question. The company is also required to take more extensive measures to communicate “the limitations of free gameplay and role of in-app purchasing with regard to speeding up gameplay.”

[Source: Games Industry, Eurogamer]


Our Take
There is value in saying “we screwed up” as Andrew Wilson did. I have respect for those that can admit their mistakes (provided they are corrected and not repeated). I think Gibeau’s intent here is that the mobile Dungeon Keeper was too far “off brand,” but his word choice was poor. 

This isn’t a matter of innovating “too much.” EA got caught with its hand in the cookie jar, likely because of brand expectations. Owning up to that and fixing it is the best way to repair the damage done.

For gamers’ part, the best medicine is to keep a tight fist when it comes to “games” like this. Don’t fall victim to aggressive monetization, and maybe it will slow. Maybe.