Plants vs. Zombies 2 and how EA actually listened

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Last October, PopCap and EA finally released the much anticipated sequel to their insanely popular “Plants vs. Zombies” series. It was a free-to-play iPhone app, which more or less meant that you could play the game for free but had the option to spend your own money for additional gameplay perks or extra in-game currency. For the most part, these weren’t options that I had paid much attention to. I was able to rock the collective decaying faces of various walking corpses throughout the colorful Egyptian and pirate-themed levels with relative ease.

Then something happened…and I took to Reddit to express my disgust (as I do):

Popcap and EA just added a new update to Plants vs. Zombies 2 last week…an update that has made me put it down for good.

People are acting like this isn’t a big deal, so let me explain what happened.

In Plants vs. Zombies, you get five lawnmowers as a “safety” in case one of the zombies should happen to reach your house. The lawnmower will mow down the zombie and everything in it’s path, but once it’s gone, that’s it…at least until you restart the level.

In the new update, I noticed that after losing a lawnmower I had the option to “buy it back” using in-game currency. Now this being a “Free to Play” game, the in-game currency takes quite a long time to acquire and can also be obtained more quickly by using your iTunes account to actually buy large amounts it. Interesting, but I wasn’t going to use my coins for a lawnmower. They’ll be back after I fail the pinata event anyway. NOPE. I used some coins to retry the event (I think this is new as well) and noticed my lawnmowers were gone. Huh. So in the events, doing a “retry” will not respawn the lawnmowers. You’ll have to buy them back. Well that sucks.

I decided to return to the main quest for the sake of replaying some old stages to earn some of that precious currency.

Enter stage 1-4. What’s this?

No lawnmowers.

None.

In their place are five “buy this” buttons. This can’t be. It must be a glitch right? It has to be. I mean this is beyond “Dungeonkeeper” evil.

Enter stage 2-5. No lawnmowers. There are no lawnmowers in the entire game, even if I have already beaten the level, even it’s a non-event, even if I’m starting it over.

They fundamentally changed a core mechanic of the game in order to make you pay more. It’s not like a level or a part of the game is missing, no, a part of the inherent gameplay itself is gone and if you want it back you’re going to have to pay for it. Every. Single. Time.

The outrage is more than justifiable, especially as someone who has been supporting these games and the franchise since it’s birth. It’s also no secret that Plants vs. Zombies is now a massively successful franchise. Why do this? I bet EA is really hurting financially and they just need to go to extreme measures, taking the risk to isolate consumers and fans alike, to make a bit more dough.

Free to play is clearly here to stay but this is taking it another level.

I’m done, deleting the game and not looking back until the gameplay mechanics are properly restored. Go ahead and say that I’m overreacting, but if you play them game and found yourself insulted or frustrated by this change, join me.

Contact EA

TL;DR – EA removed lawnmowers from Plants vs. Zombies 2 and is making you pay for each of them every time. I’m whining about it.

Not too long afterward I was met with thousands of supportive comments from awesome Redditors, reposted in hundreds of blogs and eventually even quoted on the BBC website.

PopCap and EA actually responded to my rant after it went viral. Whether or not I was part of some randomized test group to see how much they could get away with, they actually went ahead and fixed it.  Time will tell if the changes stick, but this just goes to show- sometimes the squeaky wheel actually gets the lawnmower.  …grease.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Thanks for taking me seriously guys.

Now I will go back to taking extra long bathroom breaks at w–home.