I don’t really care for tower defense games anymore. The genre has become over-saturated and stale. But I do love Plants vs. Zombies, so when the sequel was released this last month, I was very excited. The cutesy art style and tough, but fair gameplay appealed to me on many levels. I had a ball with the first game and was eager for more. The fact that the game was now free-to-play with microtransactions didn’t give me a bit of pause. I’ve never once been tempted to buy my way through a game before, so why should PvZ 2 be any different?
Well, PopCap has managed to do the unthinkable because I am very close to dropping $5 just to get to the next area. But not because I am failing. On the contrary, I have beaten all the levels required to access the next area. But in order to progress, you need Stars, which are earned by replaying prior levels you have already beaten and completing certain challenges, which grant you Stars. In the first area, this was not an issue. You needed 15 Stars and I had 8, so I only needed 7 more to get things moving. But when I finished the second area, I had 9 Stars, but now you need 30. So I have to grind 21 levels in order to get the Stars required to play further.
At first, I didn’t mind, but now, after playing the same stale levels over and over, I am getting tired of it and I want to move forward. I am no longer unlocking new plants and can’t until I make it to the next area. The sweet spot of progression has turned sour and I have been beaten into submission. I am 9 Stars away and I may make it, but I just can’t see myself going through this again. I will likely pay $5 to unlock the final area. The free-to-play model is not inherently evil, but if abused, you are left feeling like a victim rather than a happy consumer. I would have gladly paid $5 for this game upon release if everything was unlocked, but being tortured and coerced into it has made me angry and less likely to trust anything they release again.
What about you? Has anyone else dipped their toe into PvZ 2? Has any other free-to-play game made you feel this way? First comment is free, all others cost you $.99!