EA has announced that PopCap Games is working on a new Plants vs. Zombies, more than nine years after the release of Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time. The original Plants vs. Zombies was developed by PopCap Games in 2009, and it was met with critical acclaim, instantly becoming one of the best-selling games on the mobile market. Unlike many of the mobile games at the time, it was not free-to-play.
The success of games like Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle caught the attention of EA, who purchased PopCap Games in 2011. Plants vs Zombies 2: It's About Time was released in 2013. It received similarly strong reviews and exceeded the download count of the original game within a couple of weeks. Plants vs. Zombies 2 was released as a free-to-play game and had different plants and items that could be purchased within the game's store. Some complained that it was nearly impossible to finish unless players bought plants that were locked behind paywalls, and this would be far from the last time that EA was accused of predatory monetization.
PopCap Games revealed the existence of Plants vs. Zombies 3 on the EA website and invited players to join the "pre-alpha." They also confirmed that only a limited number of players would be able to download the game, and that downloads would be handed out in "phases." They did not give the number of downloads allowed, nor did they explain when download phases begin and end. Those who gain access can download the pre-alpha for free and there will be no microtransactions in this version of the game. As of today, the pre-alpha is only available for Android 6.0 and higher users.
The pre-alpha is a playable version of the game, but PopCap warned that players should expect to experience some bugs and errors. In the announcement, they urge players to report whatever issues come during their time with the game so that they can improve the experience before it releases worldwide. Players' progress in the game may be deleted at any time during the pre-alpha and their games will not be transferred when the full version is released. PopCap did not give a release date or window in the announcement. There is a FAQ section in the announcement, and under the question "Why are you making Plants vs. Zombies 3?" PopCap said:
"Because we love Plants vs. Zombie! At PopCap, we’ve been working on PvZ for years and want to bring our beloved plants and zombies to current players and the next generation of players everywhere. We’re hard at work testing out a lot of fun things that we want your feedback on, and hope you will come on this journey with us!"
The third main installment of the franchise is coming ten years after the original Plants vs. Zombies was released. PopCap has seen moderate success with their Garden Warfare spinoffs, but those were third-person multiplayer shooters; this is their first time dipping back into the tower defense genre in many years. EA also has a lot on the line with how they handle this beloved series. The first half of 2019 has been rough for the company with dipping stock prices and reported layoffs. Still, with Plants vs. Zombies 3 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, this might be an opportunity for EA to change their current image if they are able to deliver high-quality games while keeping the microtransactions to a minimum.