Electronic Arts’s mobile game, Dungeon Keeper, has been criticized…well, its been beaten up and dragged behind a horse…since its release late last year. It’s not a great game – not in-line with the franchise – and the FTP is impossible to play for more than a minute or so without paying cash. I’ve had the game for about a week and I haven’t played more than 5 minutes total. I’m still trying to dig my way to the gold mine at the corner of the map.
I’m not as hard on the game or EA as some of the other reviewers. It is what it is, and I haven’t invested much in it – not cash or time – so I’m not bent-outta-shape as many seem to be. It’s like that e-pet, or virtual pet, or whatever it was called: do a little something, let it be, do a little something else, let it be, and then it dies.
As I’ve said before, with some exceptions, the FTP model is flawed. The freemium has to be spectacular for me to consider buying anything, but if it’s spectacular as a free game, then there’s less incentive to pay. I’ve been playing another FTP, Tanktastic, for several weeks now. It’s a great game. I’ve put in 3-4 hours each week. But I haven’t spent a dime on it and I don’t intend to. I’m hesitant to pay for faster upgrades and better tanks because the game is awesome without paying anything, and the steady progress is part of the draw. And there’s also a stigma — if you pay cash and have an awesome character or vehicle or whatever, then people make fun of you. And obviously, if a game is not great, and many FTPs are not, then it’s on to the next FTP. There’s too much competition.
Purely psychological, but I would pay $10 or more for a full version of the mobile Dungeon Keeper, but I would be more hesitant to spend $10 in microtransactions even if it resulted in the same game experience. Might be a good MBA case study.