EA Thinks Dungeon Keeper Failed By “Innovating Too Much”

Electronic Arts may no longer be considered the worst company in America, but that doesn’t mean it’s catching a break from Dungeon Keeper fans. The mobile remake of Bullfrog’s classic strategy title was overwhelmingly panned by critics, to the point that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority was lining up with complaints. On the plus side, it’s a great opportunity for EA to look back at its mistakes so it can try to avoid them in the future. Trouble is, apparently one problem was that Dungeon Keeper was too innovative for its own good.

“Dungeon Keeper suffered from a few things,” EA mobile head Frank Gibeau told Game Industry International. “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.”

Personally, I think I might have said that Dungeon Keeper’s problems have less to do with brand perception and more to do with an inescapable pay-to-play experience, but I suppose Gibeau has provided a more innovative perspective.

Gibeau also added that EA has no plans to shut down Dungeon Keeper mobile, since doing so would be unfair to the fans who are enjoying the game. “When you bring in a group of people to Dungeon Keeper and you serve them, create a live service, a relationship and a connection, you just can’t pull the rug out from under them,” he continued. “That’s just not fair … We have a committed group of people who are playing the game and enjoying it. So our view is going to be that we’ll keep Dungeon Keeper going as long as there’s a committed and connected audience to that game.

“Are we going to sequel it? Probably not … But we don’t want to just shut stuff off and walk away. You can’t do that in a live service environment.”

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3 Comments on EA Thinks Dungeon Keeper Failed By “Innovating Too Much”

Rhemora

On July 11, 2014 at 6:54 am

Yes it innovated too much, if that means it was too much of a money grab by making it impossible to play without a line of credit then sure lets go with that.

Peter

On July 11, 2014 at 11:29 am

I haven’t played the mobile DK, but if it indeed “innovated too much,” then more power to it and its creators and to EA for greenlighting it.

Innovation should be the lifeblood of this industry. It isn’t. It hasn’t been for around 20 years and truly novel games from the mainstream game industry are far fewer on the ground than they used to be.

I suspect that, as in the movie industry, the dominant business end has locked the creative end into making the same types of games over and over again.

It’s understandable from a certain mindset: Give the people what they want … with a few baby-step tweaks.

After all, they bought it before. They will buy it again.

And I’m sure some of these games are engaging, at least at at a basic level, and that many will make money.

But I worry that these same companies are failing to see the forest for the trees — that they risk losing their way creatively unless they invest heavily and consistently in new ways of thinking about interactive entertainment.

I hope they still can.

But the longer you keep doing something the same way, especially with the $ of conventional success dotting your route, the harder it becomes to change.

Alkomesh

On July 11, 2014 at 9:02 pm

He clearly isn’t saying what you are attributing to him. He isn’t really saying they innovated too much on Dungeon Keeper, he is using the word innovation as a euphamism for putting an evil price mechanism on a brand known for being one hit buy.