EA Says Dungeon Keeper Mobile “Innovated Too Much”
In June, EA CEO Andrew Wilson referred to the mobile version of Dungeon Keeper as “a shame.” In doing so, he seemed to be admitting that EA had made a mistake with their approach to bringing the cult classic to the mobile gaming space as a free-to-play game.
Don’t tell that to EA Mobile boss Frank Gibeau. He didn’t think that the failure of Dungeon Keeper Mobile was a result of the monetization model. Instead, in an interview with Games Industry, Gibeau said that Dungeon Keeper Mobile “innovated too much or tried some different things that people just weren’t ready for.”
In an interview about EA’s move into the mobile gaming sector, the topic of the controversial mobile free-to-play re-imagining of Dungeon Keeper was brought up. In defending Dungeon Keeper Mobile, Gibeau said:
“Dungeon Keeper suffered from a few things. I don’t think we did a particularly good job marketing it or talking to fans about their expectations for what Dungeon Keeper was going to be or ultimately should be. Brands ultimately have a certain amount of permission that you can make changes to, and I think we might have innovated too much or tried some different things that people just weren’t ready for. Or, frankly, were not in tune with what the brand would have allowed us to do. We like the idea that you can bring back a brand at EA and express it in a new way. We’ve had some successes on that front, but in the case of Dungeon Keeper, that just didn’t connect with an audience for a variety of reasons.”
There’s something to be said for an apology, even if it comes far too late to do us any good. That’s what Wilson did in his interview by calling Dungeon Keeper a shame. It was an act of contrition, though it didn’t do gamers or Dungeon Keeper fans much good so far after the fact.
The problem is that Gibeau’s interview was almost a retraction of the apology. Okay, he was trying to say that Dungeon Keeper Mobile wasn’t enough like the original Dungeon Keeper to satisfy fans of the classic game. He’s trying to say that EA called it Dungeon Keeper and banked on the brand equity of the classic but didn’t indicate that the new Dungeon Keeper was a very different beast from the original Dungeon Keeper. Fans came in expecting Dungeon Keeper and got a generic free-to-play mobile game in Dungeon Keeper wrapping.
Instead, Gibeau came off as spinning it as gamers being resistant to change and not wanting to try something new. EA Mobile turned Dungeon Keeper into a blatant cash grab and EA Mobile’s boss tried to blame the gamers. If you want gamers to forgive you for trying to rip them off, attacking them isn’t a good way to do that.