The Chinese version of Plants vs. Zombies II reportedly takes the crown on App store free list seven hours after its debut on July 31, thanks to word-of-mouth generated by the former version (source in Chinese). However, the public enthusiasms for the game ebbed because the game operator elevated the difficulty level of the localized version to make more money, harming user experience.
The ratings for Plants vs. Zombies II slumped from 5 stars to 2.5 stars as of this writing, the lowest rating for top-30 free apps.
As compared with the English version released in New Zealand and Australia on July 10, Chinese gamers have to pay for some items while English version users can get them by gaining game experiences. Chinese gamers complained that it is impossible to pass the game without buying tools and accused the game developer of being mercenary.
PopCap, the Chinese arm of Plants vs. Zombies developer EA, has previously won acknowledgement from EA headquarter for its commercialization ability. PopCap is still an independent company, while most of the company’s rest businesses in China are being merged into EA Mobile.
James Gwertzman, Asia-Pacific vice president of PopCap, reiterated that the piracy is now rampant in Chinese market, hurting the profits of the company. PopCap solved the problem by localized features and in-app payments (source in Chinese).
Even though Chinese customers are reluctant to pay, PopCap may still see huge revenues given the large user base secured from the former version. But the beautiful revenue report is obtained by sacrificing user experiences for short-term profits.