EA says gamers uncomfortable with change as UK law slams Dungeon Keeper

Dungeon Keeper
Where's the heart gone, EA?

We've all had a good rant about EA's much-maligned Dungeon Keeper title on iOS and Android, and now the body in charge of advertisement regulation in the UK has decided that the game can no longer be called 'free-to-play'.

The smartphone and tablet spin-off introduced a number of barriers that could only be broken by users waiting around and twiddling their thumbs for ages - or spending real-world money to speed the process up.

Gamers felt cheated - not least because of the legacy of EA's beloved series - and now the British Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that EA misled customers and must stop advertising the game as "free".

The advert, which appeared in an email campaign, proclaimed: "GET DUNGEON KEEPER ON MOBILE FOR FREE! A world of wicked fun is right at your fingertips. What are you waiting for, Keeper? Get it for FREE!"

That's a pretty liberal use of the word "free", as anyone who's played the game will probably tell you. And the ASA agreed.

"We understood that several mechanisms within the game took a significant amount of time to be completed and that these would only be speeded up by using the premium gem currency," it said.

Will the ruling have ramifications for games in the future? It's difficult to say, but it may have game dev thinking more carefully about the "reasonable expectations" of F2P that the ASA mentions.

Angry core

While all this palaver has been going on, EA COO Peter Moore told GamesIndustry that "core" gamers are just uncomfortable with the changes in the industry, while the company embraces new business models.

"I think the challenge sometimes is that the growth of gaming… there's a core that doesn't quite feel comfortable with that," he said.

"Your readers, the industry in particular. I don't get frustrated, but I scratch my head at times and say, 'Look. These are different times.'

"And different times usually evoke different business models. Different consumers come in. They've got different expectations. And we can either ignore them or embrace them, and at EA, we've chosen to embrace them."

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley is the ex-News Editor of TechRadar. He had written for many magazines and websites including Business Insider, The Telegraph, IGN, Gizmodo, Entrepreneur Magazine, WIRED (UK), TrustedReviews, Business Insider Australia, Business Insider India, Business Insider Singapore, Wareable, The Ambient and more.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider covering Google and Alphabet, and has the unfortunate distinction of accidentally linking the TechRadar homepage to a rival publication.