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EA steers angry customers away from reviewing games at Google Play

EA steers angry customers away from reviewing games at Google Play

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Two-time "Worst Company In America" winner Electronic Arts isn't doing its publicity department any favors. The company's new freemium game Dungeon Keeper tricks frustrated players into leaving bad reviews on its own site, instead of on the Google Play Store, Gamasutra reports.

Here's exactly how the ruse plays out: Dungeon Keeper, like most mobile apps, prompts players every so often to give it a rating on the Google Play Store or App Store. In the Android version of the game, there are two possible outcomes when you get a rating prompt. If you choose five stars, you're gently nudged over to the Google Play Store to leave a review. If you choose between one and four stars, Dungeon Keeper pops up an email form where you can only send feedback to developer EA instead of publicly voicing your concerns. You can still, of course, manually visit the Google Play Store and leave a bad review, but in a world where the difference between a success or failure of an app often comes down to its reviews, EA is stacking the deck in its favor.

"The 'rate this app' feature was designed to help us collect valuable feedback."

Gaming mobile app reviews isn't exactly an uncommon practice, but given Dungeon Keeper's cult following and EA's allegedly greedy reboot of the game in freemium form, gamers are particularly ruffled by the scheme. EA issued a brief response to Gamasutra: "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." Yet, the 'rate this app' screen reads "5-Star ratings from you help us provide free updates!" effectively holding new content hostage.

EA Mythic's Jeff Skalski told Tab Times that the company is "committed to continuously fine tuning the player experience based upon fan feedback." EA may seemingly change the game, or at least its rating system on Android, to address reviews — but what if the only reviews are good ones? Tapping one star is the easiest way to say "I'm angry," but EA won't let you.