Plants vs Zombies and the free 2 play model

So up until now I have been able to avoid these games, as they were never really the kind of games that appealed to me. But I really enjoyed PvZ, and got really excited when the second one was out. But then I was let down by all of the free 2 play crap.

My problems with the model isn’t that I have to pay for things in the game. I would happily pay up front for such a great game. It’s that it takes me right out of the experience. I suddenly don’t know if I’m in a game or a store.

I don’t know if I should buy stuff in the game or not. I’m afraid that it will make the game too easy, but on the other hand I’m afraid not buying anything will make it too hard or rob me of all of the experience.

I just feel it throws the whole balance and difficulty curve out the window.

What I’d like to see is purchased content, but which doesn’t make much difference to the actual game. Silly hats are an example of this: If you think it’s worth a buck or two for your avatar to wear a silly hat, that’s fine, but it doesn’t really change the game itself. A few games do this, but I’d like to see more of them.

Yes; Cosmetic stuff is an easy win for F2P or even for “DLC” for non-free titles. I also personally have no objection to “extra” content. A lot of people seem strangely inclined to throw temper tantrums when developers release extra maps or levels or whatever, claiming that they “should” have been in the original game. Maybe that’s true sometimes, but what’s also true sometimes is that the studio saw that people were enjoying their game and spent some extra time to make some extra content. Back in The Day they used to then turn around and sell these as “expansions”, now the wait is reduced, and you get more of a steady drip than a big blob. But it’s still fundamentally the same thing, and I have no problems with a developer saying, essentially, “Hey, if you liked levels 1-20, there are levels 21-40 available for a modest fee.”

I am the opposite of Chronos, but not as extreme. Personally I would never pay real money for a different shade of armor or whatever. But I have in rare circumstances paid real money for extra game content (new maps, levels, etc). That’s actually worth it to me.

But by all means, if you want to spend $0.99 on a pimp hat for your paladin, go right ahead, I don’t want to stop you.

But insisting that all DLC should be of this nature is ridiculous.

Disclaimer: total number of games I have ever bought DLC for: 1 (Fire Emblem Awakening)

The thing with cosmetic upgrades is they need a critical mass to be worth it. Strictly cosmetic upgrades work for Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and League of Legends because they have a huge userbase. If I made a little indie Free to Play game though you have to give more of an incentive to spend money. Extra levels, making things less grindy (which LoL also does), and so on.

PvZ 2 is probably big enough to rake in case from cosmetic upgrades, IMO.

I didn’t actually say that I would buy silly hats, just that I like that model. I also don’t mind paying for distinct content, like new maps (and I personally might buy those, if I hear they’re good). New classes or the like is borderline, as long as they’re reasonably well-balanced with the no-added-charge classes. The real problem is when you can buy upgrades to your existing characters, especially in an environment where paid and unpaid characters can interact: Should I slog through 15 hours of grinding to get the rocket launcher, or just pay $1.99 to download it? Or, if it’s purchase-only, it’s even worse: Should I buy it, or just make do without it (possibly getting my butt kicked by those who do have it)?

Why not play the game first since its free, and buy stuff if its impossible to advance without it?

I didn’t even know they went to that model. I was expecting a stand-alone game like PvZ 1 but months later its still not released on Steam. Fuck that, I’m not playing that on a phone or tablet.

Now you’re just starting sound willfully ignorant. The game released on August 15th, unless you count a pilot in Australia and New Zealand. How is that “months”?

There will be a PC release when they feel like it. Chill out. Clearly this game isn’t worth you getting upset over since you didn’t know the first thing about it prior to reading this post. o.o

That seems like an odd amount of snark for a benign complaint. What’s wrong with you? :dubious:

I’m not sure there will be a PC release for PvZ 2, actually. I’ve heard nothing from EA indicating that there is any kind of plan in the works for that.

I’ve been playing PvZ 2 on my phone, and I gotta say that it’s just not as good a game as the first one was, and I blame the free to play model. The first one had this cool progression where you got more plants with each level, and there was a lot of humor involved. It just felt fun. Also it had the Zen Garden, which was my kid’s favorite part.

The new one has no Zen Garden, and it’s just a lot more of a grind. Finish a level? Well, finish it three more times to collect more stars so that you can advance. Or you can just pay us $2.99 and advance anyway! Want a new plant? Well, play the game for several hours to collect keys to open gates that lead to accessing those plants. Or you can just pay us $2.99 for more keys!

My thing is that even if you pay the money to advance, it’s still a crappier game. It’s based on grinding levels and accumulating stars and keys instead of the previous game’s focus on advancing through increasing levels of difficulty.

I’m not that opposed to FtP in theory, but in practice I think it tends to make games crappier.

It’s funny because my take on the two PvZ games is almost the opposite of MsWhatsIt.

You only need about half the stars to move onto the next map. So you can very quickly unlock everything and then you can choose where to fight next. Tired of cowboys? Go back to Egypt and beat a few more levels there. Is a level frustrating you? Move to the next dot on the map and try that.

The linear progression of the first game means that when you’re tired of dealing with fog, you have to slog through more fog levels until they done with the fog. If you’d like to switch back to a night level, you have to wait until they give you one.

I enjoyed PvZ 2 so much that I thought “Maybe I just misunderstood the first one.” So I went back and tried again and… no, still mostly tedious.

I’m not opposed to free to play, but I am opposed to the star model. Either you survive or you don’t. That’s the point of games like this.

The only thing that would make it worse would be if they make you wait real time to try again, like with most Facebook apps*. Please tell me they don’t do that.

*BTW, that is such a brilliant model, keeping me from playing long enough in one stretch to possibly get addicted. Even games like Family Feud, which I love, I never get back to. Once the spell is broken, I don’t go back.

Phone 2 play model is worse.

People complaing about the PvZ free-to-play model seem to forget about the “free” part and just attack the in-app puchases. The original game cost about $20, but this new game is completely free! You can complete the entire game without paying anything.

This is an excellent guide to the ins and outs of the in-game spending. If you are only resisting this game because you think it will squeeze money out of your wallet, read this. The game is plenty of fun and won’t cost you a penny.

Also, I would rather play this game on a tablet than a PC. I didn’t realise it was better with a touch interface until i tried it. I can plop down planets faster and collect big bursts of sun quicker.

Looking over the thread, I don’t see anyone complaining about being lured into spending too much. The main complaint is that there is the danger of unbalancing the game.

And as far as spending amounts are concerned, I don’t really like the F2P model because I just want my economic to be “clean”: I give you money and you give me a product. With games like PvZ2, I’ll play it and enjoy it, but I feel that there’s an obligation for me to purchase something. F2P games don’t work if people abuse the “free” part. So now I need to decide, what’s an appropriate amount to reimburse EA for the time they spent on this? It’s worse for a game like League of Legends, which is constantly growing and actively maintaining a community around the game.

The problem I have with the in-app purchase model is that it creates perverse incentives for the game publisher. The best way to make money is to design a game where how far you’re able to advance is dependent on how much you spend, but to trick the player into thinking that it’s a game based on skill.

See this excellent article for more information.

Now, that’s not to say that all games with in-app purchases are going down that road. It’s certainly possible to sell extra levels, in which case you’re explicitly playing for more game, not for an easier game. A free game that has, say, 10 levels to get you interested, then costs money to unlock another 10, or another 50, is a great model in my opinion.

So, my guideline for such things is that I will pay to play more game, but I will never pay to make the game easier. If the thing that you’re buying is something that can be earned by playing the game well, you’re on the very slippery slope down to just paying money to do well in the game.

Yes, exactly. Creating a game on this model actually incentivizes (spelling?) the developer to make the game less good, and more… tricky.

Yeah. The thing about this is that it’s not really what people mean when they say “Free to play” because this model has been around for decades. Recently we used to call it “games with demos.” Before that we called it “shareware”. And apparently it’s not the ticket to a chillion dollars that making an outright coercive title like Candy Crush or Puzzle And Dragons is.

Are the items in PvZ 2 expensive? Since people say you can complete the game without buying anything, I think it sounds pretty balanced. Some games really go overboard with the in-app purchases, with $50 and $99 packs.

I get many suggestion and ideas to this post. Thanks for nice comments .

I believe the cheapest item is $2.99. I think there are “packs” of them that to get up into the $50 range. And some of the things you can buy are expendable, so you could theoretically buy them over and over.