Popcap Responds To Chinese Plants Versus Zombies 2 Gouging Claims

Popcap Responds To Chinese Plants Versus Zombies  2 Gouging Claims

Since it was released almost two weeks ago, Popcap’s latest Zombie versus vegetation tower defence game, Plants versus Zombies 2: It’s About Time has received pretty decent reviews. It currently holds an 89 per cent rating on Metacritic. Despite the “acclaim”, many of Popcap’s China fans are upset with the game, claiming they feel “gouged” by the games in-app purchasing.

Popcap’s original PvZ was very well received in China. It wasn’t uncommon to see people playing PvZ on their iPhones or iPads on a daily commute. Costing about $US3 for the full game in China, the original game currently holds a four and a half star rating on the Chinese version of the Apple app store. That’s not taking into account the ratings it received on the multitude of Android app stores in China. In contrary, PvZ2, despite being free, currently holds a two star rating with the majority of reviewers giving the game one star.

So what happened in the three years since the first PvZ? According to reviews and online comments in China the difference is in Popcap’s monetization model for the game. According to reviews and documents Kotaku received from PopCap, the Chinese version of the game is too “hard”.

Some of the reviews online accuse Popcap and their parent company of “gouging” the Chinese gamer for money, making comparisons that the non-China versions of the game are easier. Many of the comments on the Chinese app store reads like the following.

Popcap responds to Chinese Plants Versus Zombies 2 gouging claims

“What a cheat, everything needs money, it’s made me lose my interest.”


  • I’ve yet to play this, android whoop, but from what friends have told me the game is pretty garbage, they say it’s nearly identical to the first game and that any new features(aka plants) you need to pay to unlock. So from the looks of things I’ll skip it if/when it ever makes it to android.

    • I’m playing it now. You unlock the new features/plants for free, it’s a lot of the old plants (eg the ice shooter) that you have to pay to unlock. Plus if you don’t want to immediately unlock gates to get to more levels/worlds you need to play over and over to grind out stars and keys. It’s completely possible to play without playing, but it’ll take a long, long time. eg when you get to the end of the ‘world’ you’re in you’re then told you need 25 stars to unlock the gate to get to the next. Each level you’ve just finished then resets and offers 3 stars each, each harder to get than the last. So you have to play the levels over another two dozen times after finishing them the first.

    • I don’t agree with what your friends are telling you. The game is very similar to the original, particularly the first world, but the second and third worlds I felt were interesting in the way they mixed up the playing field. I found there to be enough new enemy types and plants to encourage new tactics. So it’s a retweaked version of the original, but I wouldn’t have expected any different.

      Besides a selection of classic plants, everything is unlockable as you progress. If you don’t pay, then the game is padded out with challenge replays of existing levels that force you to earn stars in order to progress. I actually didn’t mind this too much and collected every single star even though it wasn’t necessary. The challenges usually force you to approach the same level with a different set of tactics, so they’re not a complete waste of time to play.

      The game is certainly playable without spending a cent, and not once did I feel the need to do so. The only thing I really dislike is the power up system, it feels like cheating, but some challenges seem unbeatable without them (they just cost in-game coins, which you should have plenty of).

      The game certainly would have been better off designed under a premium model, but what they ended up with isn’t too bad. Everything that’s up for purchase isn’t necessary and actually seems counter-productive to me – like I don’t understand why you would want to pay to skip through the game, or buy plants that aren’t necessary to beat the game.

    • Yeah, I think your friends might’ve been overreacting. I’m no EA fan, and I’m a huge PVZ fan, so I was worried and skeptical when I heard it was F2P, but playing it assuaged my fears.

      Personally, I found it to be somewhat more enjoyable than the original, and I haven’t even spent anything yet. (EA boycott, natch.) But I’m pretty confident that if I were to drop some cash, it’d be around the same as what I paid for PVZ1, or maybe even less. Around $10-15. And that’d buy me what I consider ‘cheat mode’ options (start with more sun, extra plant slots, extra plant food), and a few of the old plants that I would actually use (like the frozen pea shooter).

      There are heaps of new plants, and they’re all unlocked for free. And as a completionist, I really didn’t notice a grind to get enough stars for the next ‘world’ because I was already swimming in the fuckers by 3-starring all the old maps and enjoying their new challenges.

      Nothing is so hard that you need to use paid things, and the new gimmicks feel more like fun tools on your belt. Plant-food is awarded in game, resetting every match, and has unique effects on every plant type. The coins that you collect, instead of going toward the shop in the back of Dave’s boot, are now spent on powerful ‘spells’, which can get you out of any horrible jam you find yourself in, and are incredibly useful when finishing off those hardest 3-star challenges. Completely unnecessary at any other time.

      It got to the point that by the time I entered the second world, I already had nearly enough stars to unlock it the third world without even having done anything yet. I really enjoyed the challenge so far, and if EA ever proves themselves worthy of grudging forgiveness, one of the first things I’ll buy (after the ME3 Citadel DLC) will be dropping some cash on PVZ2.

    • When the details for PvZ2 were released, I was somehow completely convinced there was no way EA could mess up the the originals formula (even with the freemium aspect).

      Good lord I was naive.

      • Nah, give it a shot. If you really enjoyed PVZ, it’s still there and if you were good at it, you won’t feel compelled to use the cash shop at all. Or at least… I wasn’t. (See my above comment for more detail.)

        • I actually did give it a go for a few days. Honestly in retrospect my comment was a little harsh as there were a couple of things I liked about it, but the lures to spend money on things I felt should have just been available put a bit of a stink on it for me.

          • One of the hazards of transitioning from paid game to ‘freemium’. We paid to get into PVZ, and we got given an experience. We didn’t pay to get into PVZ2, and subconsciously still expect the same experience. Comparing the game, instead of game+payment. Because who does that?

          • Yeah true. I suppose the way I was looking at it was that there were these plants I already had but in a different game, but now I was being encouraged to re-buy them individually when I could just as easily go back to playing the old game I’d already purchased which was mostly mechancially the same. I wasn’t particularly excited about the new plants I’d come across either, so in the end I decided I’d rather just play the first one.

  • I have got plenty of game time out if the sequel without paying a cent. If it hits a point where I have to pay (as opposed to just a shortcut) then I may reassess, but at the moment I am enjoying it as much as the first.

  • Just feel like I need to put in my two cents. I actually read some discussion online regarding this. The problem is the game in China is not just translated, the game is actually harder in China in two ways.
    1. There are more enemy to kill.
    2. Some of the things which you can unlock for free in the Australian version need actual money payment to unlock as well.
    They actually played both Chinese and Australian version to compare the game and conclude that it is impossible to beat the game without paying on the Chinese version compare to Australian version which can be beaten.

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