Monday, March 10, 2014

Dungeon Keeper Mobile controversy thoughts

Quite some time ago, I downloaded this new EA social game that uses the beloved Dungeon Keeper IP. I played it for a good while, chose not to commit into it and moved on. That's the end of my side of the story.

Months later, I saw waves of hate resonate throughout the internet about this Dungeon Keeper spinoff, both before and after this article went viral.  It seems like the usual hatred towards social games by the same elitist people who believes micro-transaction, endless content and DLCs are evil. What a crazy age we live in now eh? Stereotyping games and stuff. It's almost like racism. Anyway, just a word of warning: this is a rant and my rants are usually devoid of structure and subjected to derailing.

As a Dungeon Keeper fan myself, I honestly didn't find this social version particularly bad. Sure, it could use some balancing, like how long it takes to complete an action. But overall, as a social game, I think the game as some potential and EA is just doing what every big game company is heading towards: social games. Why? Because market is there. There are actually people willing to put money into these social games, and to pay to win. If 10% of their players actually pay regularly, it's good enough. I have no doubt that despite the many hateful Dungeon Keeper fans out there, there are a good amount who think otherwise and play it anyways. We don't 'see' them because they aren't the ones complaining.

But my point is mostly this: Games are evolving and moving into a certain direction, whether you like it or not, whether is it within your tolerance or not. Social games are the money making machines for game companies now and it is really hard NOT to attempt developing them. Making AAA titles is unlike the days of the old. It is getting more and more expensive, teams are getting larger, the market is getting more saturated, players are getting busier, technology is getting more complex and all that for a 'hit-or-miss' design. Compare that to social games which are significantly easier to develop and offer unlimited playtime as long as developers maintaining it comes up with interesting events, it is way cheaper to develop social games.

Why are social games so popular in the first place? It is BECAUSE of people. Back then, we did not have Facebook, Twitter, 9GAG and all that stuff to keep us busy and entertained so we simply play games with no distraction. Phones had only 1 function and that is to call people. Now that everyone carries a pocket computer, and that social networking sites are accessible through it, people will constantly check it for 5 minutes. Thus why not make games that require small attention spans...which brings us to social games.

But back to Dungeon Keeper. I won't dictate what the angry fans should think or anything because everyone has their own rights and stuff. I personally feel a little happy that EA is even bringing life to the Dungeon Keeper IP, which means that they have not forgotten it. If response is positive, EA might even consider making an actual new Dungeon Keeper (using this mobile version as a gauge to see interest levels) but I doubt these haters considered that possibility and prefer to bash and label. The games wasn't THAT bad to begin with. EA could have done a lot worse for a lot more damage, like maybe release a crap AAA Dungeon Keeper title for $60.

Hating goes nowhere, is a waste of time, and is unhealthy. At one point, I hated Mass Effect (save Mordin Solus) and Dragon Age and even Skyrim but that took me nowhere. Mainstream games will never go back to the way it was before. I learnt to accept that these company have to make money before they choose to do what could have been AT MOST a 'cult hit'. That's why Mass Effect was created, because it appeals to the crowd by streamlining RPG elements by adding FPS elements. That's why Skyrim was created, because it appeals to the crowd by removing the intricate RPG elements from Morrowind (including crafting spells!) and focusing on the FPS element of the game. Likewise, because most teenagers who grew up playing games in the 90s are now busy working adults, social games will be appealing to them and were thus created. They don't require long attention span, is free to play and spending money rewards them with good stuff.

I have come to learn and appreciate, instead of hate, the mechanics and techniques they implement to appeal to the masses. It is unsurprisingly not as easy as one would think it is. Seriously, I love me my old school games, but hating on Dungeon Keeper Mobile only shows denial to let go.

And dammit, to top it off, it's a free to play game.


Just my 2c.

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