The internet is great for keeping up on video game news, but more often we're reminded of all the community happenings we missed as they formed. Each Sunday, I'm sharing my favorite stories from the past week with corresponding highlights from Twitter: my conversation whirlwind of choice.
This past week, one classic game's memory was sullied while another game company unveiled plans to honor the contribution of its players permenantly. A mobile app's developer decided to withdraw from the station his success assigned him, and journalists forged new friendships while making a few enemies during a marketing mishap that will shade business interaction for awhile. Click through the jump for all the usual fun!
We all know that games need to turn a profit, otherwise there would be no games for us to enjoy. That being said, there’s a thin line between encouraging players to support a franchise they enjoy and capitalizing on franchise enjoyment by ransoming nostalgia. EA seems to have opted for “ransom” in their heavily-monetized reboot of Peter Moleneux’s classic Dungeon Keeper. The free-to-play mechanics have been under intense criticism this week, garnering ratings as low as half a star from The Escapist, 1/10 from Eurogamer, and a spectacular 0/10 from Metro.
Reviewers are consistently pointing out that EA makes the game unplayable unless payment is made. “Progress gates” force unreal amounts of time--as in days, not minutes--for simple actions unless the player spends a good bit of cash to speed things up. Probably one of the biggest controversies would be EA’s manipulation of the Google Play rating system. Everyone’s familiar with the little “rate my app!” popups that appear in mobile games? In the Android version of Dungeon Keeper, that popup allows only 5-star ratings to redirect to Google Play. Any lesser rating is routed instead to an EA feedback screen.
My favorite feedback quote comes straight from Molyneux himself:
"I felt myself turning round saying, 'What? This is ridiculous. I just want to make a dungeon. I don't want to schedule it on my alarm clock for six days to come back for a block to be chipped,'" he told the BBC.
EA responded to the criticism by claiming it is perfectly clear how to leave a less than 5-star review from inside Google Play. It seems they simply want to bring a fantastic game back in a new and exciting way. It’s a comfort to know the Dungeon Keeper IP is in such caring and knowledgeable hands.
CCP Games, creator of EVE Online, unveiled the concept art for a modern art installation in Reykjavik, Iceland to commemorate the player-created universe of EVE Online. It's really refreshing to see a company recognizing that a game, especially online, looks to its players for vitality.
The monument will serve as a physical manifestation of the respect and appreciation the company has for the millions of EVE Online players and followers who have contributed in the cooperative creation of the EVE Universe over the past decade. It also serves as a gift to Reykjavik, the home of CCP Games and EVE Online development for the past 16 years, as well as its inhabitants and those who come to visit the world‘s northernmost capital.
All active players as of March 1, 2014 will have their names etched on the monument’s base. Names of players who have passed away will be included as well. Plans include a web app to navigate to a specific name amongst the millions and a laptop buried underneath as a time capsule of videos, messages, and other media from players and the development team. You can read more about the sculpture, “Worlds Within a World”, at the official site as well as visit the artist’s site.
my main character is named "Permission is granted to demolish this monument" - problem @EveOnline?— Mark Walton (@WizardMarnok) February 5, 2014
Side note: anyone else curious what a monument to the worlds created by Second Life would look like?
Success is a double-edged sword and FlappyBird’s creator seems to have been bit. With few details for fans to go on, developer Dong Nguyen simply announced yesterday via Twitter that he’d be removing the game from distribution completely.
I am sorry 'Flappy Bird' users, 22 hours from now, I will take 'Flappy Bird' down. I cannot take this anymore.— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
Nguyen went on to say this was unrelated to any copyright issues and he would not be selling FlappyBird. He’s since gone silent, though social media and news outlets are rife with speculation. I tend to side with the theories that he’s having trouble processing the attention his success brings, which makes his announcement a bit sadder as it’s cast a spotlight directly on him; before, the focus was his game.
I can call 'Flappy Bird' is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
The game is no longer available for download and the internet is in mourning. Note: you keep your copy if you already had the game downloaded, but be sure to back up your phone.
[UPDATE] 12:00 PM PST
Players of FlappyBird have responded with death threats and "encouraging" Nguyen to commit suicide for making this decision. This is beyond innapropriate and my heart goes out to Nguyen and his family.
If you sent me an email & it was shot back or something else odd, please note I’m getting 137 emails a min. thanks to #replyallnightmare— Matt Hawkins (@FortNinety) February 3, 2014
Less “video game news” and more “news about video game news”, I felt this week’s ICYMI would be incomplete without talking about the Reply-All Nightmare. Shortly before noon last Monday, I noticed some of the journalists I follow on Twitter discussing a perplexing email thread. It became nearly all the editors and journalists I follow--not all of them connected directly to gaming--and then some. Then the hashtag #replyallnightmare spawned, and all became clear.
Sandboxr, a 3D printing company out of Salt Lake City, sent a mass marketing email with one technical glitch. Usually, such emails are set up so that an inadvertent mis-click doesn’t result in a single person being able to access the email addresses for the entire list even to blindly send a mass reply while attempting to unsubscribe from the marketing emails. Usually.
The first reply-all spawned numerous responses, mostly people asking why they were included. Then the “out of office” and “undeliverable” emails began. Some people grew angry, others had a bit of fun. It took Sandboxr about 2-3 hours to get the situation under control; by then it had spread into social media and soundly disrupted business for most of Monday.
Let's face it: The person who set this "reply all" business into motion is the hero we deserve.— Ryan Winslett (@RyanWinslett) February 3, 2014
Did Maevrim skip news you think she should have listed? Let her know in the comments or on Twitter.