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EA filtering out less than 5-star reviews of Dungeon Keeper on Android

EA filtering out less than 5-star reviews of Dungeon Keeper on Android

Mon 10 Feb 2014 5:31pm GMT / 12:31pm EST / 9:31am PST
MobilePublishing

EA Mobile has defended the practice as an easier way for players to give feedback

As noted by our own Rob Fahey, EA's recently released Dungeon Keeper is not a great experience, and the Metacritic numbers have reflected that. Strangely, on the Google Play store, the game is actually showing an average review (as of this writing) of 4.2 out of 5 stars. As it turns out, this discrepancy can be explained by a somewhat questionable filtering process EA has implemented.

As spotted by PocketGamer (via Eurogamer), after playing Dungeon Keeper for a time, players don't get to tap any star rating they wish - instead, they are presented with a question, asking them if they believe the game deserves "1-4 stars" or "5 stars" and if you select the 5-star option, then you're automatically taken to the Play Store to rate it, but anything less and you're brought to a new "feedback" prompt, which asks, "What would it take to make Dungeon Keeper a 5-star game?" From here you can choose "email us" or "not now."

So in practice, the only way to rate Dungeon Keeper other than 5 stars is to effectively lie and say you'll award it 5 stars, which takes you to the Play Store, and then you can actually rate it less when on that page. Needless to say, it feels a bit deceptive.

When asked by Eurogamer, EA Mobile defended the filtering system, saying the practice was designed to make feedback easier to give. "We're always looking at new ways to gather player feedback so that we can continue to improve our games. The 'rate this app' feature in the Google Play version of Dungeon Keeper was designed to help us collect valuable feedback from players who don't feel the game is worth a top rating. We wanted to make it easier for more players to send us feedback directly from the game if they weren't having the best experience. Players can always continue to leave any rating they want on the Google Play Store," the spokesperson said.

21 Comments

Popular Comment
This is why mobile gamers can't have nice things, and both mobile as a platform and EA as a publisher can't have any respect u.u

Posted:8 months ago

#1

Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance

213 529 2.5
Popular Comment
Wait, so you're telling me that EA took a beloved franchise with a strong following, ruined it, and then deflected any negative criticisms about it?

Where have we heard this story before? #SIMCITY

Posted:8 months ago

#2

Todd Weidner Founder, Big Daddy Game Studio

412 981 2.4
wow, I just love how these people spin things when caught red handed. I mean does everything have to be underhanded and sneaky in todays corporate world? Oh silly me, according to MBAs everywhere, of course it does, otherwise real work would be required.

I still remember walking out of some of my MBA classes decades ago, I actually got into heated arguments with the professors over stuff like this. I never finished my MBA because I simply couldnt believe the stuff they were teaching. Now of course you see this wealth/revenue extraction by all means mentality throughout the corp world.

is not clever, its just sad.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 10th February 2014 7:17pm

Posted:8 months ago

#3

Anthony Gowland Lead Designer, Outplay Entertainment

195 653 3.3
Didn't this site already cover this, 4 days ago in an article that's still above the fold? Feels like the press are trying to milk the DK stories as hard as EA are trying to their players.

The bit about players having to lie to rate it lower than 5 - that's not true, is it? They can just go to the store page directly and rate it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Anthony Gowland on 10th February 2014 8:05pm

Posted:8 months ago

#4

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,133 1,164 1.0
Remember the old days when companies had the good sense to pay people to decide there was no comment to be made and then paid some more people to actually say to the public that there was no comment ever made? These days corporate comments make it seem as if people had audacity sticks so far up their behind that they just need to open their moths to be able to poke you in the eye with them.

Posted:8 months ago

#5

Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus

451 714 1.6
And yet no one seems to notice one thing: EA's going to win in the end. A few tweaks here and there, and we'll all forget about this.

Meanwhile, the game will make money. Guaranteed.

Posted:8 months ago

#6

Peter Bond Studying Art & Design, University of Bedfordshire

69 19 0.3
Well, they ARE the worse company ever, what did you expect?...

Posted:8 months ago

#7

Axel Cushing Writer / Blogger

104 130 1.3
@Steve

To expand your list:
SimCity
Syndicate
Command & Conquer
Star Wars (mostly via The Old Republic)
Madden
Wing Commander
Warhammer
Ultima

I'm pretty sure there's others that I'm forgetting. But doubtlessly they're hard at work trying to find out the best way to bastardize...er, "creatively reinterpret" dormant franchises like Crusader and Hard Nova.

Posted:8 months ago

#8

Tom Keresztes Programmer

683 335 0.5
@Steve:

I would add the Jane's combat simulation series. All games.

Posted:8 months ago

#9

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

820 652 0.8
@Axel

I would add Dead Space 3 to that list. Since it's quite close to this case.

"Hey, let's get that game that only appeals to survival horror fans and make it more approachable to everyone" Result: Loyal fans do not buy a "casualized" downgraded game (in both gore and scares) and the "more approachable everyone" only see part 3 of what for them is still an horror game they will not buy, since they know nothing about those changes.

Now how could we make this worse? Oh yes! let's also add micro-transactions to an already full priced retail games.

And leaving aside my Dead Space Fan rant (I admit it). This thing with Dungeon Keeper is not marketing. It's an absolute lack of morals that I would never have expected from any big company. This belongs to scam websites or those late-at-nigh adult applications for phones.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 11th February 2014 8:44am

Posted:8 months ago

#10

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

954 182 0.2
The bit about players having to lie to rate it lower than 5 - that's not true, is it? They can just go to the store page directly and rate it.
Well it's a dishonest system though isn't it? Imagine it in reverse.

1-4 star reviews are sent directly to the app store page, and the rating goes there immediately. The 5 star reviews are sent to EA as emails so they can see the positive feedback on why the gamers like the game. Why not do that? Effectively it's the same isn't it?

Posted:8 months ago

#11

Tamir Ibrahim Programmer, Rodeo Games

76 56 0.7
@Kingman no, it is not the same. It is, in fact, the reverse.

I honestly think this is being blown somewhat out of proportion and the comments on this and the other articles shows the bias that goes on against EA. It is very difficult to take anyone seriously when people are coming out with comments that are loaded with obvious personal dislike towards a company.

As for the "worst company" comments that are here and elsewhere. Please, if you actually think that then it goes some way to highlight what I've just said and any comments that are then subsequently made about EA loses all sense of credibility as a reasonably thought out response.

Posted:8 months ago

#12

Justin Biddle Software Developer

159 484 3.0
Popular Comment
Their excuse is so obviously exposed by the fact they don't allow you to rate the game 1-4 stars even after you have submitted your feedback. It's so obviously a scam it's pathetic

Posted:8 months ago

#13

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,577 1,432 0.9
@ Tamir
no, it is not the same. It is, in fact, the reverse.
Well, yes, it's the reverse. But it's also the same practice. EA want to negate or learn from (depending upon your view) non-5 Star reviews. It would be just as interesting - from a business and development side - to draw feedback from 5 Star reviews, either as well, or solely. EA could learn what they're doing right, as well as what they're doing wrong. If DK-Mobile is an experiment to see how far they can push IAP and design elements, then all in-depth feedback should be welcomed, not just the not-5-Star views.

Generally speaking, it's poor practice from a development and PR viewpoint, but I suppose it can be seen to be no worse than having a comment drop-box in a store saying "How could we improve?". Few companies want to know what they're doing right, whilst all want to know what they're doing wrong (the stupidity comes in assuming that one directly corresponds to the other).

Edit:
As for the "worst company" comments that are here and elsewhere. Please, if you actually think that then it goes some way to highlight what I've just said and any comments that are then subsequently made about EA loses all sense of credibility as a reasonably thought out response.
Everyone and everything is judged by their actions. Past a certain point, people believe the worst based on previous poor actions, and a seeming incompetence (subjectively speaking). I'll agree the "worst company" comments are a step too far, but just because a company is criticised repeatedly, does not mean there's an inherent bias against them, or that the comments don't have any merit. :)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 11th February 2014 11:26am

Posted:8 months ago

#14

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

954 182 0.2
@ Tamir

Morville has got exactly what I was talking about, my question of 'if it's the same or not' is rhetorical, of course it's different. Yes what I said is in reverse because I am highlighting the issue of why EA isn't supposedly trying to get 'constructive feedback' from their 5 star reviews as well and instead created their system in this way? They have just as much to learn from the positive reviews as they do the negatives as a developer. All good and bad feedback is educational as far as I'm concerned.

If they did the rating system in reverse as I had described would that not look a bit funny to you? If it was a fair rating system all feedback should be treated the same way for all reviews from 1 through to 5 stars. So maybe all feedback will be redirected to email or maybe all feedback will be directed to the app store.

Sure you can say the situation is overblown, it's fair enough, it's a matter of opinion of course. But I've had a quick look at the feedback for this game everyday to see what people are saying and the 1 star reviews are piling up. Damage has been done and worst, as well as the predictable 'EA are greedy' comments, worst of all I've seen many comments on the app store regarding mobile games as a whole and microtransactions. It's a PR disaster.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kingman Cheng on 11th February 2014 3:04pm

Posted:8 months ago

#15

David Spender Lead Programmer

129 54 0.4
the only way to rate Dungeon Keeper other than 5 stars is to effectively lie and say you'll award it 5 stars, which takes you to the Play Store
I'm confused, why couldn't you just go to the play store directly and rate it? That's what I normally do. I don't pay attention to any 'rating' pop ups. I just cancel them. If I want to rate an app, I just load up play store, search and rate. This article seems to indicate that is not possible.
To me this is no different than a restaurant's manager walking around and asking each table how their meal and experience was. If they say excellent, they are handed a slip of paper that directs them to rate their experience on Yelp. What is the big deal?

Posted:8 months ago

#16

Craig Page Programmer

384 220 0.6
Hey don't hate the player (EA), hate the game (iOS/Android).

It's not EA's fault that all the app stores are setup stupidly, with a few top lists people actually check, and THOUSANDS of apps and games no one will ever download. EA's just doing everything it can to get as high as it can on those lists.

If the app stores ever want to be taken seriously as a real gaming platform, they should just give the big publishers their own channels/lists. So instead of focusing all of it's efforts on list positioning, EA could focus on other things like making games that are actually fun to play on a phone.

Posted:8 months ago

#17

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

954 182 0.2
I see what you're saying David but it's not exactly the same.

Difference here with the rating system is is that restaurant manager feedback gets stuck on their shop window. They don't have to worry about their image with a feedback slip that's been handed back or put inside a feedback box. Imagine if instead of feedback slips every customer got a smiley face to stick on the shop window. But the customers are told you can stick a happy face on the window, if you want to stick a sad face on our window we'd recommend you don't do that and just write us a note.

So the shop window is full of just smiley faces -unless- a customer takes the initiative to ignore what the staff say and stick a sad face up. It's not just feedback they're worried about it's their image.

Posted:8 months ago

#18

Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist

35 58 1.7
Popular Comment
It's not feedback they're interested in whatsoever.
Yes, users *can* exit the game, and rate the game directly. They don't have such control that they can suppress all bad reviews.

They don't need to though. All this system is designed to do is to sway the balance. A lot of people won't realise or won't bother to work around their rating interception, and if enough people don't realise or don't bother, they get a disproportionate number of 5 star reviews compared to the true average sentiment. It doesn't matter if a whole mass of people get 1-star reviews up, if they can flood a larger number of 5-star reviews, they keep their aggregate score higher than 3-stars.

They knew what the backlash would be to Dungeon Keeper, the same way they knew full-well what the backlash would be against SimCity. As ever, they're not particularly interested in how great the game is, or feedback to make the game better. They're more interested in how best to game the system and minimize the backlash effectively. It may even be that they're expecting these controvercial games to be a form of loss-leader. People will throw a fit the first time do something disgusting. People will stop caring after they've done it a few times... the media frenzy and public backlash will quieten down, and they'll be left to quietly exploit consumers with the same tricks in peace.

Dungeon Keeper strikes me as such a knowingly extreme concentration of every sickening design choice and business practice they can possibly pack into one game, that thinking about it, it may have been a conscious decision to set the bar so miserably low with a single game that future games employing these poor practices look more reasonable than they otherwise would have. If they hit people with the fat-end of the wedge first, there's a distinct possibility people will openly welcome the thin-end as "showing more consideration to their customers".

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Dan Wood on 12th February 2014 1:52pm

Posted:8 months ago

#19

Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London

224 590 2.6
I honestly think this is being blown somewhat out of proportion and the comments on this and the other articles shows the bias that goes on against EA.
As Morville mentioned (albeit more eloquently), the 'hate' comes from somewhere. It's hard to believe some people swallow this PR spin so gladly when it's harming the very industry they work on. You wonder why people don't take this industry seriously, why "games are for kids"? These 'out of proportion' things is the why.

Posted:8 months ago

#20

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
Well, it turns out to be a reasonable business approach to do enough work to keep 80-90% of the players happy and let the other ones suck rocks. I abandoned Battlefield 3 for World of Tanks, on which I've since spent over a thousand dollars, and EA seems just fine with that, nor does it seem to have affected their sales that adversely.

Let's face it, we all like to complain about EA, but their games keep selling just fine, so why should they change?

Posted:8 months ago

#21

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