By Video Games Correspondent Nicholas Berrington
The developers responsible for the new game based on the popular soap opera EastEnders, Dirtydenami, have finally responded to the news that their game has beaten the record number of returned games ever. The game, EastEnders: The Game: A Game About EastEnders, has been heavily criticised for the lack of variety and locations within the gameplay. It has been noted that it just takes three real world minutes to walk from one end of the game’s map to the other, which is severely stretching the developer’s insistence that it’s an open world adventure. I spoke to President of Dirtydenami, Mike Canker, on his company’s response to the many, many disappointed customers and retailers, who have since stopped accepting returns as there’s just too many now.
TDJJ: “Mr Canker, you came out fighting on Twitter in response to the EastEnders game breaking that record, but it seemed you only added fuel to the fire and you shut down the company’s account shortly after. Do you still maintain your opinion that people aren’t allowed to have a negative opinion on the game because many people worked hard on it and so therefore it’s wrong to criticise?”
MC: “Absolutely. What people have obviously forgotten is the source material itself is the reason why we went in the direction that we did. I don’t really watch the show myself, but it seems like, apart from a few houses in which the characters live, there’s only about three other locations, plus the market stall. Put all that into context, and surely you’d see that we’ve captured the spirit of the TV show pretty well.”
TDJJ: “If you ask gamers today about the games which are considered open world, they’d think about the GTA series, Red Dead Redemption and many others which have many hours of game play, massive, sprawling landscapes, a huge variety of side quests and believable voice acting. Calling the EastEnders game an open world game, according to every review out there, is seen as an absolute stretch. What would you say in response to this?”
MC: “The thing is, those games take too long to get through anyway. People like me who have to run a successful games company, get married several times a year, see my kids now and again, just don’t have the time to plough through all those hours required. I believe the term ‘open world’ is still applicable to our game, because one minute you could be arguing with someone in your character’s living room, but then you can decide to leave that one and start another argument with someone else down the pub. Extreme interaction is what we call it in the game.”
TDJJ: “I don’t really watch EastEnders either though I do know that, yes, there’s only a few different locations in the show. But when making this game, did you feel at any point that you wanted to add a few more places, or at least some more variety to the gameplay, while still staying true to the show?”
MC: “We were concerned that fans might feel alienated if we added anything that didn’t appear in the show. Plus, fans like all the characters arguing all the time. I’m aware that down the years, movie and TV licenced games have regularly played fast and loose with the designs. I mean, look at the Super Star Wars trilogy on the Super Nintendo. How no fans lost their shit about the sheer amount of liberties taken is beyond me. Or the Robocop games – how can our favourite metal policeman only withstand a few bullets before dying? In the first film, there’s a bit when dozens of cops were shooting the shit out of him for ages. And he still escaped.”
TDJJ: “So you’re not going to bow to pressure and add some more gameplay via DLC, as has been suggested by literally thousands of gamers, who have completed the game in about half an hour?”
MC: “Listen, one of our creative decisions was to make it like an interactive episode of EastEnders, so it was only natural that we made it so you could finish the game in the time it’d take you to watch a single episode. But unlike the show, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. I don’t want to spoil what happens once you complete it, only that everyone dies from all the arguing, but I’m not going to say what location it all happens in.”
TDJJ: “And what are you going to do with your Most Returned Game award?”
MC: “Put it on the mantelpiece in the office, next to the Worst Graphics For the PS4 award for our game about clouds, and the Most Annoying Character in a Platform Game award for the character Hilarious Foghorn Frog in the game Foghorn Frog Goes to The Library With Hilarious Results.”
EastEnders: The Game: A Game About EastEnders is now selling for a small fraction of the £60 that it originally retailed at two weeks ago. Some shops are giving copies away with any other purchases to cut their losses. The game is available for the PS4 (VR compatible), Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Plans to re-release it for the PS5 and Xbox Series X when they’re released has since been scrapped.