Plants vs. Zombies 2 by CapCom is the sequel of the great strategy game for a casual player. And may be that’s the reason why iOS was chosen as a starting platform.
CapCom decided to use a free-to-play distribution model in this game. First time I heard this news I thought “Phew, another cashing and failed IP”. But I was wrong. PvZ 2 is an ideal game in terms of.. a game. Great mechanics, addictive gameplay, fantastic graphics – all this makes everyone love this game. But how do you monetize this kind of game?
There are many ways to monetize free-to-play games. The main idea is to force a player to stay as long as possible in a game, to make the game almost infinite. Just look at Candy Crush Saga. To fully complete this game you need maybe 200-300 hours if you don’t pay. It’s a game of chance and as a developer you can modify the chance of winning in the round and make this game drastically longer in terms of time.
But the Plants vs. Zombies 2 is different. It’s a game of skill. If you are proficient enough and have experience in the first version of the game, it will be easy for you to complete the second version. To be frank, for me, PvZ 2 is much easier than the first release of the game. What does this mean? Oh, you’re right, there is no chance involved in current state of PvZ 2. The player’s skill determines the total time they invests in the game. The better player you are, the faster you complete the game. Anyway you can unlock 98% of the content in the game within about 10 hour at any level of mastery. Bad news if you want to monetize this game.
Let’s get back to how PvZ 2 is monetized now. The main way is exclusive plants. You can only buy them with real money. A kind of dangerous decision if you don’t know that the whole game may be completed without these things! You have about 35 free plants in the game, and only 5 are purchasable and whose impact on gameplay is no more significant than that of the original free plants! For me that is mainly it. You can buy keys that unlock content, but you can also get them as a loot in the game. You can buy permanent updates, but you don’t need them as you can get them in-game as well. You can even buy soft currency, but this is a common reward in the game. And you don’t even need to use this soft currency, if you are good at the game. And that’s it. You don’t have ‘health’ to limit your session. You don’t have ‘pay-soft-currency-for-a-round’ mechanics. The only thing you can buy are these exclusive plants. I expect that even this feature alone cut 8% of users out of the game.
In conclusion, what is Plants vs. Zombies 2 on iOS? It is finite gameplay and finite content. The game has incredible art quality, game design, story and programming. Almost everything that you can buy in the game you can get without spending real money. It’s a form of very soft monetization; nobody forces you to pay. Sadly, I think that such a great game cannot hold top grossing positions for a long time. Why you wouldn’t make this game premium having such a fantastic IP and huge fan base, I don’t know. But anyway, thank you CapCom for the free premium game.