Dungeon Keeper developer defends mobile game’s ‘freemium’ model

Jeff Skalski keeps his cool despite the furious backlash from fans over the pay-to-win model
EA Games' Dungeon Keeper has been criticised by its users

Mythic Studios’ senior producer Jeff Skalski, who was behind the development of the EA’s latest mobile game, Dungeon Keeper, has defended the mobile game’s freemium model, which reviewers have criticised since its launch last week. 

“I definitely understand [the frustration of] somebody who is a PC classic Dungeon Keeper fan but that’s not what we built,” said Jeff, in an exclusive Google Hangout with Stuff Singapore.

“We went freemium because that’s what’s winning in the mobile space, so if I was to build Dungeon Keeper 3 for the PC, it most likely wouldn’t be a freemium game at all,” said Jeff, who said the team had taken pointers from other ‘amazing strategy games’ in their decision to go ‘freemium’.

His sentiments match that of the official EA spokesperson, who told the BBC: "We specifically built Dungeon Keeper around typical mobile play patterns - that is, checking in a few minutes here and there throughout the day," she said. "This way of playing, we've found, allows fans to naturally progress through the game as a free player."

The Escapist Magazine’s Jim Sterling didn’t agree. He wrote: “It's free to wait, but not to play anything…. "Playing," in Dungeon Keeper consists of opening it up when you remember once a day, poking a few things on the screen, then closing it down and finding something else to do for anywhere between four and twenty-four hours.

The developer of the original Dungeon Keeper game from 1997, Peter Molyneux, said that criticism has come from fans of the original version who simply wanted an update of the game they so fondly remembered.

“Right now, we’re not planning on doing any dramatic price changes,” said Jeff in the Hangout.