RE: Apps and community

by Dries De Roeck on February 3, 2014

In May 2012, I wrote a post which originated from my frustration about apps moving towards in-app purchases. Today, I noticed this tweet by @chrisoshea :

The tweet links to a review of the mobile version of the good old classic ‘Dungeon Keeper’. I think, most points I mentioned in my original blogpost still apply regarding this game. It is a shame that EA has to use these cheap tactics in order to get sales. Ok, perhaps it’s all a bit scaled up, and these cheap ways of adding in game purchases have already exploited by game publishers like popcap (plants vs. zombies), rovio (angry birds) and Zynga (farmville) – nothing ‘new’ you might think.

What I find thought provoking is why-oh-why EA is abusing the dungeon keeper ‘brand’. My wife and I have a common love for the original Dungeon Keeper game. It was part of our adolescence (it was the first game I copied illegally), and we have strong memories about it. It makes sense for EA to use those games and re-release them on mobile. Since so many people out there have good memories about a game, there is the potential of an immediate userbase. If the game mechanics are thought out well, this could surely be used as an advantage. As far as I can tell, the re-release of Transport Tycoon is taking that approach. It is a shame that in-app purchases are implemented in this game, it feels like a cheap solution for what could have been an excellent game.

Why do I blog this?

It is interesting that while there are so many ways available to engage an audience with a product, there is still a strategy that tends to ‘always work’ … which is often the ‘cheap’ way out. It made me realise that understanding and being aware of basic psychological processes can be essential, not only from a consumer point of view but also from a designer point of view. It might take extra time to create a concept that emotionally bonds with the person using it, and you will probably fail at it for 95% of the time. But 5% of the concepts that do trigger the emotion you had in mind during the design process are probably more rewarding than anything else.

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