Close
Report Comment to a Moderator Our Moderators review all comments for abusive and offensive language, and ensure comments are from Verified Users only.
Please report a comment only if you feel it requires our urgent attention.
I understand, report it. Cancel

Kabam responds to Dragons of Atlantis boycott

Kabam responds to Dragons of Atlantis boycott

Wed 18 Sep 2013 9:22am GMT / 5:22am EDT / 2:22am PDT
Online

Boycott organiser banned from playing, Kabam denies pay to win strategy

Kabam is currently embroiled in a battle with some of its customers over its free-to-play strategy game Dragons of Atlantis, with players organising a boycott and Kabam reportedly responding with bans.

Players are angry at changes that have been made to the game's monetisation, and the angry players have started a suspension of activity expected to last two to three weeks, depending on the result they achieve.

"Kabam has switched around their operational mode to promote power gains and not battle, taking away the incentive to actually battle and providing incentive to gain power through competitions," said an open letter from group, which now has 3,363 supporters on Facebook.

"While we can see from a business standpoint why they would do this, as consumers, we are fed up. Kabam is no longer promoting free-to-play games. In fact, they are now making it next to impossible for any player who does not purchase online currency to grow at all."

One of the boycott's organisers Andrea Richards has reported she has been banned for "inciting player[s] to boycott Kabam," while Andrew Veen, also of the group, explained to GamesBeat that the problems included the purchase of Blue Energy, one of the game's resources.

"The problem with Blue Energy is not its rarity, but that 'free-to-play' gamers rapidly run out of it or have insufficient stockpiles of it such that they are barred and prohibited from advancing in the game. On the other hand, 'pay-to-play' gamers have access to unlimited supplies of it in the shop and can never run out of it. "

Meanwhile Kabam told Polygon that the issue was players using illegal tools to help their progress.

"The issue is pretty much that there's a small number of players who were using an unauthorized third-party tool that gave them an unfair advantage in the game. To keep the game fair and equitable, we disallowed that. We don't want anyone to have an unfair advantage in the game, so we don't authorize this third-party tool anymore, and that is what has been the cause of this," said Kabam's VP head of global corporate communications Steve Swasey.

"Whether it's Kabam or other free-to-play games companies - everyone can get the app and play for free, but if you want to have a premium content experience, that's when you pay for it and that's how Kabam makes money. There's no advertising in Kabam games, there's no subscription or fee to start. It's all completely free-to-play. But if you want faster gameplay or an enhanced experience, then you can pay for the premium content."

18 Comments

Spencer Franklin Concept Artist

95 125 1.3
Funny enough, I was reading another article on GI.biz where a fella from Kabam seemed very adamant in defending F2P, and so went to check out the games they create, and found all of them use the same in app purchases of some sort of in game currency, priced all the way up to 99.00 bucks... I personally wont even touch games like this. But I saw all the complaints in most of the apps saying basically the same thing... I guess I understand why he was so heavy on defending it now. And what exactly is an"Enhanced" experience? Is that where you actually get to see what the game was meant to be like before they cut it up to monetize...?

Posted:A year ago

#1

Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

292 193 0.7
Please... Since it is obvious you are refering to me allow me to answer.

1. I do not speak for the company I work for, nor did I ever comment on my employer strategies, choices, activities and I will not start here. Besides I do not work on DoA and have only distant knowledge about it.

2. All the arguments I have expressed about the F2P model were pretty general and analytic and aimed at having a balanced approach in the discussions, which you will find out with a bit of good faith that often are dominated by a one sided and generalized speech against the model as a whole.

3. If you read well every single comment I have made on this site even before my current (and pretty fresh) employement you will see my "defense" of the free to play model has never been extreme or single sided and Once again I'd be grateful if those insulting associations (which basically say that I have no freewill nor ability to think objectively because... i wear an "uniform"?) could stop as they don't even put the ones who makes them in the brightest of the lights when it comes to objective thinking and good faith. Lastly being an employee of Kabam does not necessarily makes me an executive just in case you need to be reminded of the fact and whatever is my role in the company can you imagine that maybe, just maybe I could be one who tries to drive some change even with as little power and influence as my current position may suggest if you could, before speaking out loud, please do some elementary research...

4. The argument of the price of the offers is not a Kabam specificity and again if you jad done the appropriate researches before commenting you would have seen this is common not to say universal practice in the F2P (nearly all F2P publisher on all platforms) or microtransactions/online business (i.e. Steam wallet) part of the industry.

5. Pay to win and Pay to play in disguise do exist, but it is not my place to comment from which publisher those games are or to accuse anyone even less comment on the products my colleagues or myself are working with for obvious reasons, one of which being This not being part of my job description.

6. Lastly, in the defense of my employer and if I want to be fair, on one of the product I work on, my team has been requested to organize an event to reward ALL users for connecting to the game daily. To give you a rough idea, Kabam gave away the equivalent of 24 Millions Premium currency including premium currency directly. This beside numerous events that reward players, whole alliances or worlds for simply playing. While elements exists in some of the Kabam's games that are not easily acquired by non paying and casual users (i do not know the full portfolio myself as an expert) there are also social and community mechanics that reward the players regardless of their paying history that are available and may reward the users for their loyalty and including with those items. You may be willing to ignore those facts (considering you admited "having just checked the game" it is pretty obvious you had no clue about that) as they may not exactly fit in the horrible picture you seems to be willing to try to paint here, but at the end that is the reality.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Eric Pallavicini on 18th September 2013 9:44pm

Posted:A year ago

#2

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

883 1,300 1.5
I don't know the details of this, but having just read this piece quickly, is this a fair summary of the boycott?:

"Some of us who paid you nothing will no longer play your game because we can't freeload as well now"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 18th September 2013 10:28pm

Posted:A year ago

#3

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 462 1.4
I don't know the details of this, but having just read this piece quickly, is this a fair summary of the boycott?:

"Some of us who paid you nothing will no longer play your game because we can't freeload as well now"
Maybe. Still,you can't advertise your game as "free to play" AND get to complain about entitled customers who do not pay. If you advertise as being "free" then you need to BE free, no hedging on that. You can monetize elements of it, but only completely optional elements like cosmetic features or convenience features, but a player who pays absolutely nothing should be on equal competitive grounds as someone who's dropped thousands on the game.

If you're unwilling to live up to that expectation with your products then don't try to pass if off as being "free to play."

Posted:A year ago

#4

Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

292 193 0.7
Maybe. Still,you can't advertise your game as "free to play" AND get to complain about entitled customers who do not pay.
I do not think any company has ever done that.
If you advertise as being "free" then you need to BE free, no hedging on that.
If you're unwilling to live up to that expectation with your products then don't try to pass if off as being "free to play."
You can monetize elements of it, but only completely optional elements like cosmetic features or convenience features, but a player who pays absolutely nothing should be on equal competitive grounds as someone who's dropped thousands on the game.
When you take a flight, in economic or business class which may be 2x more expensive, at the end you take off from A and land in B, so basically what you are saying is that there should be no advantage at all, except better looking stewards/esses (thanks for the economic class ones) and more comfortable seats? No priority boarding, no meal, nothing like that it would be too unfair... But then why would people pay for a business class if there was no incentive, no significant difference?

I am not pretending here that this is right, don't get me wrong, I am just highlighting the fact that "that's the way it is". Just like the F2P model can hardly (not impossible though) be applied to a point&click game for example, there are options that can hardly be applied to the currently most successful type of F2P games and purely cosmetic or convenience options would just not allow those product to generate any significant revenue to maintain a team or even a company.

Now as far as I know, we are calling ourselves the "gaming industry", not "the gaming collective" neither "the united artists of gaming" (which anyway would just be names) and we are a business, not a charity association or anything like that. We call our products IP's and Franchises and most of us actually don't live on love (of what we do) and fresh air. I am not saying there that we have to put aside ethics far from that, but we also have to accept the reality of being a business.

I heard a story about a very old and famous US Rock Star who was playing a Free to Play game, for which he paid to get 50 years of Premium account (which he would probably have never seen the end since of his old age), and disappointed that there was a limit no allowing him to go beyond those 50 years, he wrote a letter to the publisher saying he loved the game so much and was deeply disappointed that he could not pay more for it and asked for options to support the game even more. As long as there will be people to want more, there will be providers and this state of things (Pareto principle) does not have its roots in our industry but can be observed in the world.
but a player who pays absolutely nothing should be on equal competitive grounds as someone who's dropped thousands on the game.
To come back on this specifically, my first reaction would be "says who?". F2P is still young (gestating maybe?) and will evolve, and some people even withing the F2P industry (and even some working with titles that don't comply with that concept) agree in full with that. But as I mentioned earlier, we are an industry in a world that is not much more fair nor provide equal competitive grounds than you would like to have in the virtual products you have just defined rules for. How naive and immature can such a request be? I am not saying that the world being unfair is a good thing again, but hey, maybe it is time to wake up and accept that is the way it is and maybe, just maybe, what we create virtually is just looking like what we are and experience ourselves and if it sort of works, it may be because it appeals to others as much as it did appeal to the creator in the first place.

And at the end, this kind of "customer feedback" cannot be ignored by any company that is facing it. Has it changed anything in the past, will it change anything this time? Wait and see, though I am pretty sure in a way or another consequences will arise.

Edit: Missing sentences/details.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Eric Pallavicini on 19th September 2013 11:01am

Posted:A year ago

#5

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,132 1,164 1.0
Am I too dmub to understand tihs article?

Pleyars syaing:
They changed the monetization strategy in such a way that what we perceived to be our f2p core gameplay no longer is free. That the f2p game is now perceived to be too expensive.

Publisher siyang:
People were using third party tools and banned for it.


in other news:
F2p publisher pointing out to customers that free games aren't in fact free to enjoy, only free to get hooked on and pressured into by friends.



a more convenient to read version of this post, is available at my webshop for 257 gems.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

292 193 0.7
a more convenient to read version of this post, is available at my webshop for 257 gems.
Link to webshop is missing... extra gems for comfort option to be paid?

Posted:A year ago

#7

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
...but a player who pays absolutely nothing should be on equal competitive grounds as someone who's dropped thousands on the game.
No, I don't buy this one. I think it's perfectly reasonable to give limited advantages to players that pay money, in the same way that it's reasonable to give limited advantages to players who play more rather than less. The key is to very carefully balance the advantages given so that player skill is still a larger factor than how much money you spend.

World of Tanks is an example of a game that does this quite well. I've got two WoT accounts: one on the Asia server that's had about $700 and 1200 put in to it over the last year, and one on the North American server that's had no money at all and about 300 hours on it. Progress isn't as fast on my NA account, and I have to spend more time grinding for credits, but I actually have a slightly higher win rate there, and I do just fine against many players who spend large amounts of money on premium ammunition and the like but simply aren't as good as me.

I can't say whether or not Dragons of Atlantis is well balanced in this way, but it's certainly wrong to say you can't give any in-game advantage to the paying players.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,132 1,164 1.0
registering a domain = $10
misappropriation of company webshop solution = bedazzled boss
pushing one post to the limit = priceless

then I thought, but what about the people who do not want to pay? I'd have to geocache some QR codes around the world which also unlock the post. It's either that, or going indy on kickstarter.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Samuel Verner Game Designer

131 243 1.9
funny how eric tries to find excuses. kabam is a very good example for everything whats wrong with the f2p bussines model. maybe they should stop calling their software "games" - they are just colorful software platforms to nickel and dime the hell out of the users.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 19th September 2013 3:08pm

Posted:A year ago

#10

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,132 1,164 1.0
I propose the term:

Audiovisuallly consumed psychoactive machinecode for guided human self-conditioning and re-education.

You might also say the slightly more derogatory Audiovisuallly Consumed Machinecodebased Entrapment", mainly because it spells ACME and is considerably shorter.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

292 193 0.7
funny how eric tries to find excuses
@Samuel

I don't have to find excuses since I am not responsible of anything related to that topic. I only mentioned facts that are not single-sided, which does mean I am not taking sides here but rather attempt to approach the subject from different angles and consider varied PoV's, including the less supporting of the kind of theory you have exposed in your post.

Now I do understand this mental exercise has no interest at all in your own voluntarily restricted vision, since a very long time.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games

363 207 0.6
Eric,

Recently during a test someone sent me over, I suggested some changes for exactly that problem for this particular game which i see as Kabam's weakest point on this title. (which i play and like a lot) Feel free to contact me for a free consulting session. :)

Posted:A year ago

#13

Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

292 193 0.7
@Yiannis
Thank you for the offer, but I am not related to the title in any ways and I fear this wouldn't be of any help (this would need to reach at least a product manager directly). But again, thank you.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eric Pallavicini on 19th September 2013 10:09pm

Posted:A year ago

#14

Samuel Verner Game Designer

131 243 1.9
I only mentioned facts that are not single-sided, which does mean I am not taking sides here but rather attempt to approach the subject from different angles and consider varied PoV's, including the less supporting of the kind of theory you have exposed in your post.
the only point of view you share is the point of hurray-patriotism for f2p games. this news-articel shows how far you left behind by the reality of everyone else.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation

113 65 0.6
1. I do not speak for the company I work for, nor did I ever comment on my employer strategies, choices, activities and I will not start here. Besides I do not work on DoA and have only distant knowledge about it.
To be fair, yes you do. As an employee of a company; your words whether right or wrong are still taken as Employer's words. Yes you have your own mind, opinions and are entitled to speak them but in this day and age where customers can connect and socialise within minutes, everyone has to be careful with what they say.

As someone that has worked for EA, this is something that I have lived with myself and always had to second guess, write out and then delete whatever I said because it could be taken the wrong way and as an official response from the employer (Though most times it wasn't thankfully) but the point I am making is that no matter where you are, no matter who you are speaking to, your words have an impact as you are representing your employer.

Many employers these days make their employees aware of this, of course with EA having a large legal team at their side, it was made clear within the early days of employment.

Onto the actual issue at hand. I see both sides and their stories. Both sides also make very good points and generally F2P should essentially be - Free to download, free to register, free to load up the game and free to enjoy the core game with friends...experience the game as you would without the price tag but if you don't have enough time to unlock things or the patience to do so then put some money into the game and do so. What occurs after that however is where opinions clash.

Most games can get away with just cosmetic payments, such as League of Legends (I was once a naysayer to the game but once I played co-op vs AI with friends, I am pretty much playing it on a daily basis) but delving into their champions shows where their real prowess lies. Each champion is available to everyone, not only that but as real cash and as in-game currency. When you start LoL as a new player, they award you with enough riot points to get a champion and they also have 10 FREE champions available every week, not only allowing you to have a pool of champions but to also try out the different kinds and find the one you like.

When I started I was able to grab Pantheon, at the time he was around 500 RP but a sale occurred and I grabbed him for 297 RP...so not only did I have the chance to play 10 champions for free but I also got one for free as well. Each champion has a unique feel and brings new challenges to the game. My in-game currency pool grew with games, not too much but not too little either and with some patience, that's how I funded for some of my champions, it then took me 2-3 months to finally crack and buy a champion bundle before also delving into the skins. My point is, I decided when it was time to support Riot with my money and at most I have probably spent the same amount as I would for a normal newly released game.

Other games however either need or desire for little advantages to stay alive because the community evolves and so the game needs to do so. The main issue however is that due to F2P games being so accessible, you will gain every element of diversity within the community.

Now before I continue, I am not one of those that wants "everything free", I have never believed that purely because I understand what is needed for the game to stay afloat and that's a small percentage that support the game. However I am not one of those that wants to put a price on everything either.

I am one that looks for equal balancing to a degree...allow paying players to unlock items faster (Whether they give advantages or not) and allow free players to unlock the same item by putting hours into the game...not essentially a grind fest but reward the player for spending cash or reward them for playing the game.

I also understand that sales, discounts and exclusivity (That word will be a bane of my existence for the whole of eternity) can drive people to becoming paying players. That's great and fantastic, listen to what the player's are looking for or even forward to seeing on sale....interact and communicate...two very vital words that should play part in F2P Games.

Overall, veteran and loyal players should be rewarded, give a reason for players to stay with you, make them want to play the game longer or fund the game. My personal pet peeve, not just in the games industry but in the whole of the customer service industry is the fact that new customers are given everything on a silver platter and the customer's that have been with companies for years don't get squat because it is always assumed they are happy and will stay for good.

Finally to bring it back to the related article, I do believe the incident could have been handled much better as it certainly rings alarm bells throughout the F2P Market but generally we're in a time where F2P hasn't been given a solid definition yet and due to this it is still being experimented by companies to see if it can be successful for them or not.

Just to note, I don't have an issue with F2P myself since I feel that the player has the choice of where and how their money is spent. I only have an issue when a freeloader player isn't given the same chance to obtain an item, whether that be through the game's currency or unlocking it with hours of play or through achieving a goal.

In fact I think if most F2P games implemented an "Unlock an item when you achieve this goal or buy it now for x amount" then most players wouldn't have an issue.

As far as balancing goes, that will forever be up for debate but again, that can be solved by listening to the community (The ones that provide actual feedback) creating a community group that can be trusted to test and provide feedback for items and generally providing a method that both sides can get the item(s)

It's like games that use the "Buy more energy now to continue playing or come back tomorrow" - It's a great way of gaining money but awful for your player base, after all the player wants to play your game.

Anyway these are the ramblings of a F2P Community Rep at around 1am, I do hope they make some sense to someone :P

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Jordan on 20th September 2013 1:09am

Posted:A year ago

#16

Eric Pallavicini Game Master, Kabam

292 193 0.7
To be fair, yes you do. As an employee of a company; your words whether right or wrong are still taken as Employer's words
@Adam
No I do not when I clearly state that my comments are not "the word of the company" for fair reasons (and this rule existed long time before social media era, as disclaimers exist since a long time), which I did. Like all of us I have contractual obligations to behave and not to disclose any privileged or internal information, which I pretty much did for the first and did not [disclose anything sensible] for the latter.

I also clearly stated my inability to comment on the Dragon of Atlantis product for a very valid reason, I do not work with it. The only reason why I intervened in this topic is that I have been drawn into it in a personal fashion (in someone's attempt to associate what I said on a general basis in other topics to this specific case related to the company I work for), and while I saw the article just a few minutes after it was published, I would not have intervened in it otherwise.

Additionally I made clear that I would not comment either on the case of this Blackout in DoA, on DoA mechanics or on the Company's strategy, activities, except for highlighting information that is already public for the reasons I already mentioned here above and that should make sense to anyone. This is not only my right as an individual but also my obligation as an employee, right I did use and obligation I did not break.

Let me add that of course, I am still affiliated with my current employer and there is no denial on that. But there is a difference between being affiliated and being a spoke person, and there is also a difference between talking about a company's specific activity and a wider related phenomenon like the industry activity.
the only point of view you share is the point of hurray-patriotism for f2p games. this news-articel shows how far you left behind by the reality of everyone else.
@Samuel
Just a single example:
5. Pay to win and Pay to play in disguise do exist, but it is not my place to comment from which publisher those games are or to accuse anyone
Unlike some people in this discussion, I am not an extremist (from any side) regarding the F2P topic and this kind of remarks - which you can find all along my posts on the F2P topic, if you are honest - pretty much demonstrate it. Now the fact you deliberately ignore (in this conversation as all the previous ones where we both intervened) all the arguments I did mention in disfavor of F2P and focus only on the ones that suit your ongoing argumentation about me being a "hurray-patriot" (your words) of F2P pretty much sums the fact you did choose a camp, while I did not (as I position myself as being doing a critic and not falling to the traps of subjectivity and the easy path of relying on self-provided opinions rather on harder to acquire objective knowledge by discussing both the rights and wrongs, the pros and cons of any topic I am going to participate into and questioning and challenging dogmas - should they be born from opinions or from a more scientific proces). While this is another debate on Episteme being opposed to Doxa what I attempted and keep attempting to do [in most discussions] is a process similar to what E. Kant explained in one of his works, when it came to the critic of the dogmatism in general, whichever was the scope of that dogmatism).

EDIT: few additions were necessary, had to rush the first post because of work.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Eric Pallavicini on 20th September 2013 2:33pm

Posted:A year ago

#17

Bobby Farmer Development Director, EM Studios

9 2 0.2
No surprises here.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now