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.
"What a cheat, everything needs money, it's made me lose my interest."