EA Can No Longer Call Dungeon Keeper ‘Free’ In The UK

EA Can No Longer Call Dungeon Keeper ‘Free’ In The UK

British regulators have ruled that an advertisement calling EA’s controversial mobile reboot of Dungeon Keeper “free” is misleading and must be pulled.

The game, which is free to download on iTunes and the Android store, requires players to make progress either by waiting lengthy amounts of time or buying in-game gems using real money. Like many “free-to-play” games, it is technically free, but difficult to play for extended periods without spending any money.

This morning, in a response to complaints about an ad in which EA called the game free, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency ruled that the ad isn’t kosher.

“The ad must not appear again in its current form,” reads the ruling. “We told Electronic Arts Ltd to ensure that future ads made clear the limitations of free gameplay and role of in-app purchasing with regard to speeding up gameplay.”

In February, when EA first released this Dungeon Keeper reboot, fans were outraged at the microtransactions, and EA boss Andrew Wilson has since expressed regret at how they approached this re-imagining of the classic Bullfrog strategy game.

(via Kotaku UK)


  • I’ve gotta admit, i was really disgusted with this game and how it was just leeching for money. After being continuously nagged to pay for stuff in the game i rage quit and deleted the application from my phone.
    I bought any played the original on PC (many many years ago) and loved it, but this was just a mockery

    Shame on you EA, shame on your indeed

  • Whens the verdict on using the name ‘Dungeon Keeper’ ? Seems pretty misleading to me, I saw ‘Dungeon Keeper’ and expected a great game but instead got typical EA-destoryed-coz-want-maw-money crap.

    • In theory I’d suggest it does, but in practice I think you’d have to evaluate to what level microtransactions are “required” to play the game for any extended period of time / be successful.

      E.g. Jetpack Joyride: Free from the AppStore. No need to pay any money to play successfully or for any extended period of time. Would suggest any advertisement for it as “Free” would not be misleading. (I.e. the gameplay experience isn’t substantively different from somebody who has paid money)

    • There would need to be some sort of benchmark that indicates when a game is overly punitive.

      I have played Dragonvale pretty much daily for the last 2 years (don’t ask) and I’ve never really felt like I HAD to spend money to make the game playable. I also have lots of friends who love the Simpsons: Tapped Out. I don’t think any one of them have felt compelled to pay to play. For most of my acquaintances DK was the tipping point. How do you measure that though? Companies need some way to know that their game does not meet the legal definition of F2P.

    • I hope so. The UK have been good at that, passing laws to ensure that micro-transactions are clearly marked, can be locked from children, and aren’t falsely advertised.

  • I hate these “free to wait” games. Either let me play it for free, without limiting me with time-restrictions or charge for the app. If I enjoy the game I will maybe spend money through microtransactions, but not if you make me wait a day between play sessions… Mobile gaming is become more and more ridiculous and tries anything to leech a few dollars out of their players.

    • But if they let you play too long, you might start having fun and enjoy the game, then you’d never buy anything and they would have to start eating with silver forks instead of gold ones.

  • I’m still playing the game and while yes – there is a massive delay behind anything in the game, thats not what annoys me the most. What drives me crazy is the airborne units. Ghosts not so much, they could feasibly move through walls and arent much more than a nuisance. Its the dragons and dragon heroes. Why is it that they can just fly over any wall. This is a dungeon – presumably there is rock above and below. There should be no reason they can pass over when regular units must walk around. Some of the larger immortals could quite easily climb over such a small wall – but no, they cannot. Air defenses are minimal and a well placed dragon can ruin any defense.

    Until now, I was enjoying playing once a day, strengthening my defenses, but now it seems i’m always matched with someone with substantial air offensive capabilities leaving me dead in the water.

    The other annoying thing is how expensive the imps are. I’ve excavated every possible square in the dungeon, and never spent a single gem on anything besides imps – and I’ve only got 5. #6 Is far too expensive – and whats worse, he’ll be absolutely useless. I will never again need to build/upgrade 6 things at once now the dungeon is completely excavated (or filled with basic walls that take 3 seconds to clear).

    Poor design choices like this have ruined it much more than than the gem speedup cost.

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