Molyneux: EA's Dungeon Keeper "crucifies my patience"

Veteran designer claims remake sacrifices the original's pace in the name of making money

Peter Molyneux believes that free-to-play mechanics ruined EA's much maligned remake of Dungeon Keeper, the classic game he designed while at Bullfrog.

In a session at Casual Connect Europe in Amsterdam, Molyneux was inevitably called upon to comment on EA's Dungeon Keeper, which has attracted criticism over its business model and its approach to user reviews.

Surprisingly, Molyneux was complimentary about the game at first, saying that EA Mythic had "reinvented" the experience "exceptionally well." He admitted that he had expected a straight remake, but he was nevertheless impressed with some of the new ideas in its design.

However, its decisive problems were all about the flow of the gameplay - a vital aspect of the original design, but one sacrificed at the altar of in-app purchasing by EA and Mythic.

"Asking people for money is not a right. You have to justify it"

"The whole of Dungeon Keeper was built around playing quickly," Molyneux said, be that digging out blocks or warding off enemies. However, that sort of pace is incompatible with the prevailing approach to free-to-play right now, which is predicated on the player either waiting or paying to make progress.

"[It] crucifies my patience," he said. "The pace of the gameplay I find terrible."

Indeed, Molyneux argued that Dungeon Keeper is not alone in making this kind of sacrifice, and such games demand a rethink in how we describe free-to-play. "There cannot be a term that's less true about the current iteration of free-to-play games," he said, positing "invest-to-play" as a possible alternative.

Molyneux compared games like Dungeon Keeper to a disciplinarian teacher or a heavy-handed parent, chiding their charges for their lack of patience. As he proceeded to elaborate on his concerns Molyneux became more vehement and animated, emulating the spanking of an errant child by slapping his hands together.

"We're taking a huge hammer and smashing [our customers] with it. 'You will pay, or you will not enjoy!' We're treating them like children. We're beating up our consumers, and saying, 'be patient, or pay more!'

"That's how crude those mechanics are. There has to be a better way. The first things we teach people in these games is how to speed up [the game] and how to spend gems. That's madness.

"Asking people for money is not a right. You have to justify it."

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Latest comments (8)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
If you have read some of the stuff Ramin Schokrizade (World of Tanks) has to offer on the topic of f2p monetization, you can't help but notice just how clumsy EA is handling its f2p business.

At every turn the MTX is in your face with no subtly about it and at each turn the games seem to be specifically made to antagonize a fanbase which is used to consuming games in an entirely different way.

EA wouldn't release a game with horrible graphics or sound, usually this company strives for having state of the art presentation. Which makes it even more of a mystery how the f2p mechanisms present themselves.

Yet I wonder, if Dungeon Keeper is the f2p equivalent to slapping a child, then what was the $50.000 axe in Curiosity? And in that case, could we go back to slapping children, please?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 11th February 2014 12:33pm

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John Pickford Owner, Zee 38 years ago
Godus to be a paid for game then?
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Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance8 years ago

Agreed - It seems the Polyneux is throwing bricks in his glass house again. Very distinctly remembering a similar pay wall monetization in Godus, though it was eventually altered to be less... abhorent.
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Show all comments (8)
Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic8 years ago
I don't think Molyneux is saying that he hates F2P on principle, but there are certainly better and worse ways to design around it, and it seems that the DK remake was not only a very poor implementation of the F2P concept, but also a poor choice of game for F2P in the first place. I have no problem that there was a $50k axe in Curiosity, I doubt the vast majority of players felt it was needed to enjoy the game, and nor was it pushed as such.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Edward Buffery on 11th February 2014 5:15pm

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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 8 years ago
One clause in your contract fixes this: "creative control".
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises8 years ago
Well if you compare it to other games for phones and tablets, it's not that bad. As I write this my two minions are busy chipping away at some 24h rocks, trying to get to a new gold mine. But I think I'll just pay for the ultimate boosts, $5.99 and $5.99 for the original and the sequel off of
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...whats in the Box?
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Mark Docherty Games Developer 8 years ago
Hmm Molyneux speaketh with forked tongue? Curiosity killed the app.
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