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Gameloft's free-to-play woes continue as Urban Crime unmasked as a rehash of Gangstar

Gameloft's free-to-play woes continue as Urban Crime unmasked as a rehash of Gangstar
With freemium gaming the main trend of 2011, any developer or publisher not practising the business model is likely rethinking their operations.

Even big companies such as French publisher Gameloft - which books hundreds of millions of dollars annually from paid premium games - is attempting to get in on the act.

Too hasty

It's not all plain sailing, however.

Back in December 2010, the publisher had to issue an apology and re-release Hero of Sparta 2 on iOS when it changed it from being a paid game into a free-to-play game with adverts.

It also experienced a player backlash when the third release in its highly regarded Dungeon Hunter franchise ditched the previous paid model and core gameplay, becoming a wave-based freemium title.

It has a US iTunes user rating of just 2.5 compared to 4.0 for the first and 4.5 for the second game.

It's a crime

Now, the company has come unstuck as a bit of detective work over on Pocket Gamer has revealed its latest free-to-play iOS title Urban Crime is, in fact, a rehash of Gangstar: Miami Vindication - itself released to little critical applause back in September 2010.

Stripping away the original game's storyline and missions, Urban Crime is populated with cars and weapons locked away behind IAPs – a strategy that feels out of step with the original game's set up.


Difference what difference? Gangstar: Miami Vindication top and Urban Crime below (or is it?)

Gameloft's decision to use a old title released as an experiment for its new found free-to-play focus is ill-advised on others levels too, thanks to Miami Vindication's ageing visuals and the festival of violence that results.

 

By stripping away the original game's comparatively well-gauged plot, all that's left is an uncomfortable celebration of a particularly hackneyed take on gang culture.

If nothing else, Urban Crime serves to highlight the level of sophistication freemium fans now expect from releases, with Gameloft's next move in the market likely to garner much interest as a result.

Currently, it has a US iTunes rating of 3.50.

You can read more on Pocket Gamer's look at Urban Crime here.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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jon jordan
Dearey, dearey me. How did Gameloft think it was going to get away with that?
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