Plants vs Zombies 2 Review

Plants vs Zombies 2 Review

By: Ryokazendriel

I saw a host of games at PAX that were freemium / moba, and even the show floor presenters looked as if they were salivating to get in on the mythical cash cow that is LoL, or Candy Crush, or what have you.  I almost felt bad for them, standing there with beta keys in hand, sadly watching the hundreds of gamers with their backs to them, huddled around one of the many TVs Riot had set up around the show so more people could watch the regional finals.  Obviously, from the rest of my posts, you know where my loyalties lie.  But loyalties aside, you are all doing several things wrong, and it is making me sad.


The first of which is, of course, that you are too late.  Do you even play mobas?  You can’t just show up one day and say, “hey this is the most awesome game of all time, and it’s free, why don’t you give it a go” and think that millions of players will suddenly all drop LoL to rush over to your game.  Let’s even say for argument that your game is unequivocally better (which you can’t prove to anyone by looking exactly like LoL in every aspect).  We have teammates on LoL.  Contacts.  Nurtured friendships and hard-earned rankings.  We aren’t leaving, and even if we were, we would need ALL our friends go with us at the same time.  If you’ve ever been on the Internet, you know this is not going to happen.  The only people you can expect to be in your lobbies are the people who have been banned from LoL, and that’s no way to start a community of players.  I could go on and on about it, but you should know this.  You weren’t first the party, you can’t expect to take people away from a game they already play.  I shouldn’t even have to elaborate on this huge bullet point.

The second problem, which I’m encountering with PVZ2 is, your game is not… fun.  Like so many MMOs before Plants-vs-Zombies-2-11you, you’ve been sucked into the freemium lure, and you thought, “I can make players pay for premium content by making it compelling!”  And you did that.  But the free part of the game, the part that millions of people have access to?  No longer compelling.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person that’s told you this, either.  Try to think critically about your decisions, ok?  If the free part is not fun, your whole game is no longer compelling.  If you need a LoL example, I’ll let you know right now, you can play LoL with 100% effectiveness without ever spending a dime.  Almost all money goes to cosmetic changes and very minor conveniences.  Most of the people I know who buy Riot Points only do so because we’ve been playing the game for nigh-on a million years and we just felt like paying a little money.  I played Duel of Champions for an enjoyable half hour until it started throwing me into PvP matches against people I didn’t know, with no hope of winning due to using only free cards.  There’s no other modes, there seems to be no way to get better cards without money, and even with paid-for cards, how do I know I’m going to be competitive?  I really enjoyed it up to that point, but I can’t invest even this small amount of money in so pointless a venture.

The third problem, and this may sound harsh, game companies, but here goes: your greed is showing.  It’s pretty obvious who’s a greedy corporate entity, and who’s an indie studio just by looking at what you sell and what you charge.  Indie’s will give things away in packs, sometimes the whole rest of the game content at one go, because they want you to have fun and play the game they made.  Greedy SOBs with evil finance departments (or whatever is the source of this evil, I don’t actually know) will charge for every individual object they can possibly make distinct.  They’ll even trump up some kind of in-game currency so you can spend real money on literally nothing.  I understand you need to make money to survive – that is true of everyone in everything that we do. But the heartless penny-counters clearly don’t know what “fun” or “video games” are all about, don’t let them make these important decisions.  Withholding the game that you made for piecemeal ransom is self-sabotage.  If you got to go on a roller-coaster for free, then at the very top of the first hill-climb someone showed up with their hand out expecting twenty bucks for the rest of the ride, you’d be understandably disappointed.  If your game costs twenty bucks and you want to somehow tap into the freemium crowd, you should probably call your free section a ‘demo’ or a ‘trial’ and then charge twenty bucks for the real game, like we’ve been doing all these years.  I know it’s just a semantics change, but look at our airline industry: up-charge for first class, business class, checked bags, in-flight food, entertainment, internet, blankets, headphones, window seats, aisle seats?  And next, rumors of up-charges for carry-ons?  What’s next, up-charge for higher quality air?  Do you want to be like them?  Or do you want to preserve a little professional dignity?

PVZ2 begins as the game you knew before: simple, fun, with the same silly humor you learned to love in the original.  But it quickly (or however long it takes for you, personally) becomes apparently that they were not satisfied with the amount of money they were getting from you before.  $3 to unlock the Jalepeno.  $4 for the Torchwood.  $4 for the Snow Pea.  $5 to unlock the world gate to open up a new area.  $4 for an extra seed slot. $20 or more for extra coins to spend on in-game cheats.  The packs are listed all the way up to $100, listed here as “The Best Deal”.  Really, PVZ2?  One hundred real dollars for fake coins in your game is the best deal?  Your hand is out expectantly, and it’s a little too transparent to be the same clean fun as it was before.


Summary: Let’s say you’re at a free music festival featuring cool bands.  There’s two stages.
On the first stage, there’s a band playing some great music and having fun times.  At the back, discreetly, they’re selling their CDs, maybe a few shirts.  As consumers, we’re not offended by this, and if the band is good, they’ll get some sales.

On the second stage, there’s a band playing some great music and having fun times, but they stop five minutes in and demand $50 from the listening audience before they will go on.  “The rest of our show is the best part,” they promise.

From a soulless marketing standpoint, they’re both aiming for the same demographic, and aiming for the same sales.  What is team #2 doing wrong?  You be the judge.  But I think it’s safe to say, nobody I know is going to stick around the second stage.

About the Author: Ryokazendriel grew up in Hyrule, and moved to Pallet Town early on. She then relocated to San Andreas, and after graduation, attended a University in Piltover on a blitzball scholarship. Her first day of work in Raccoon City didn’t turn out well, so she took another tour of duty on the USS Ishimura and SSV Normandy before becoming the newest resident of Emerald City, on the lookout for her next adventure. Every party needs a grizzled veteran, and (while not exactly ‘grizzled’), when the time comes, you’ll be glad for her extensive EXP in organizing post-apocalyptical civilizations.

Piece originally appeared on ryokazendriel.blogspot.