China has been one of the biggest supporters of the original Plants vs. Zombies, with 120 to 150 million players in the country and largely positive reviews of the game.
Plants vs. Zombies 2 has not faired as well in China, with thousands of gamers giving the game one star and claiming the levels are too hard to complete, forcing gamers into buying micro transactions. The problem here is PopCap made a version specifically for China and it seems this is much harder than the English version.
Chinese reviewers have been up in arms against this move by PopCap, claiming the company is being unfair on China and forcing the country to pay-to-win essentially. This is something we doubt anyone would be pleased about; China has not been the biggest supporter of mobile virtual good sales.
On the flipside, Chinese gamers on the original Plants vs. Zombies did say it was too easy and this may have moved PopCap to create a harder version. The problem is when the only way to pass a level is by having a certain plant and the plant needs to be bought, this can become pay-to-win, not an optional transaction.
The fun has really been sucked out the Chinese version and we may see a patch to make the levels a little less difficult to complete. Even though it is one of the most downloaded games on the Chinese App Store, over 2/3 of the reviews give the game one star.
PopCap has always been well known for its mobile games, but before the EA takeover it used to sell the games outright to players. This meant there were no micro transactions and anything bought was through the game currency, not real money.
EA has been twisting its subsidiary studios for some time now, with Dead Space 3 getting hit hard for the micro transactions within the single player campaign. EA did say they would continue to deploy micro transactions and free-to-play models in most future games.
We do see the reason for EA moving towards a mobile friendly, free-to-play world. The company is making more money on Apple’s App Store than it is with console and PC titles; it obviously shows the mobile world is a more lucrative market right now.
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