A small group of vocal players of Kabam's Dragons of Atlantis — a free-to-play browser-based and mobile strategy title — recently organized a boycott of the game in protest of changes the developer made to its balance.
The players set up a Facebook group which, at the time of writing, has 3,366 members, calling for all players to not log into the game, purchase any in-game items or perform any activities from Sept. 1 onward. Dragons of Atlantis boasts millions of players — across Kabam's portfolio of games, there have been more than 60 million downloads as of last year.
Speaking to Polygon, Kabam's VP head of global corporate communications, Steve Swasey said the studio is aware of the blackout and it has been in contact with members of the Facebook group.
"The issue is pretty much that there's a small number of players who were using an unauthorized third-party tool that gave them an unfair advantage in the game," he said. "To keep the game fair and equitable, we disallowed that. We don't want anyone to have an unfair advantage in the game, so we don't authorize this third-party tool anymore, and that is what has been the cause of this."
Venture Beat reports that the group distributed a letter to Kabam followers and investors explaining the reason for the boycott.
"Kabam has switched around their operation mode to promote power gains and not battle, taking away the incentive to actually battle and providing incentive to gain power through competitions," the letter read. "While we can see from a business standpoint why they would do this, as consumers, we are fed up. Kabam is no longer promoting free-to-play games. In fact, they are now making it next to impossible for any player who does not purchase online currency to grow at all."
The group criticizes what it believes to be Kabam's promotion of a "pay-to-win" strategy.
Kabam denied this, telling Polygon that all its games remain free-to-play and, if players want, they can pay for premium content.
"That's how the free-to-play model works," Swasel said. "Whether it's Kabam or other free-to-play games companies — everyone can get the app and play for free, but if you want to have a premium content experience, that's when you pay for it and that's how Kabam makes money. There's no advertizing in Kabam games, there's no subscription or fee to start. It's all completely free-to-play. But if you want faster gameplay or an enhanced experience, then you can pay for the premium content."
Kabam is best known for its work on Kingdoms of Camelot and The Hobbit mobile and browser-based games. Dragons of Atlantis launched on mobile devices in August of this year. Prior to its mobile release, the game had earned more than $100 million through the browser platform.
The game launched almost four years ago, and while Swasey said he couldn't comment on specific correspondences the company has had with players, he did say Kabam is listening and following the issue closely.