from the not-how-it's-supposed-to-work dept
When they write the future tome discussing how to run a video game company in such a way as to piss off as many customers as humanly possible, it seems quite likely that it will be titled The Electronic Arts Guide To Business. Between doing the old customer demand flip-flop when it came to SimCity, attempts to lock their games down from the modding community, and their practice of shutting down games in which real customers have spent real money, the company at times appears to be some kind of macabre performance art piece on how to be as anti-customer as possible. Word of mouth has supplied a reputation for EA that is less than desirable, leading some to wonder how they might be able to turn their PR ship around.
Jeffrey Nonken writes in about one method EA has come up with to combat the perception of their games from customers. It's a delightfully cynical plan to try to convince customers that they can only rate EA games in the marketplace if they agree to give a perfect review.
Dungeon Keeper sure has a high rating on the Google Play Store for a game loathed by many. Its 4.5 star average of over 84K user reviews suggests that people are really liking EA's microtransaction-heavy affair. Only there's one thing this rating system isn't telling you: customers are only given the option to rate the game if they say they'll give it five stars.Ah, it's so simple! If you want to make sure your games are highly rated, attempt to convince customers that they can only rate the game with a perfect rating! More beautifully, while you can still rate the game whatever you like after promising a 5 star review, this method allows for the wonderful practice of forcing your customers to lie in order to do so. It's like an evil multiplication machine!
See, on Android you're given the option to rate the Dungeon Keeper after a certain period of play. Only instead of tapping the appropriate number of stars you think it deserves, you're asked if you think it should receive "1-4 stars" or "5 stars". As reported by PocketGamer, selecting the latter option takes you to the game's Google Play Store where you can rate it, while the former option simply takes you to a new "feedback" prompt asking "What would it take to make Dungeon Keeper a 5-star game?" Your options: "email us" or "not now."
Oh, and that ability to lie and review at less than five stars? That's what makes this sneaky attempt to garner favorable reviews a-okay, according to EA.
“We're always looking at new ways to gather player feedback so that we can continue to improve our games. The 'rate this app' feature in the Google Play version of Dungeon Keeper was designed to help us collect valuable feedback from players who don't feel the game is worth a top rating. We wanted to make it easier for more players to send us feedback directly from the game if they weren't having the best experience. Players can always continue to leave any rating they want on the Google Play Store.”Right, except you aren't being upfront about that with your customers, whose feedback you so greatly desire. Unless that feedback is a low rating in the marketplace, in which case your customers can either figure out they have that option on their own, or they can suck it. Meanwhile, of course word about this devious attempt will make the rounds, cementing most folks' opinion of EA as being as consumer un-friendly as possible.
I guess they're still vying for that "Worst Company" three-peat.