The creator of Plants vs. Zombies, George Fan, believes that free-to-play games are just not fun. Plants vs. Zombies initially launched in 2009 as a tower defense game for the PC. The addictive title involved homeowners using plants to prevent zombies from getting into their houses and eating them. A version of the game for iOS launched in 2010, with the game eventually making it to Android devices and consoles.
As an app on iOS, the game initially sold for $2.99. One thing that set Plants vs. Zombies apart was that it was not free-to-play, which was a trend that was already gaining ground with many mobile game developers. Mobile app stores began to evolve to the point that developers felt that the only way to make money on games was to make them free but to also charge for additional features within the game. In 2011, EA bought PopCap Games, the development studio behind Plants vs. Zombies, and in EA fashion, the company wanted to focus more on pay-to-win microtransactions in Plants vs. Zombies 2. Fan objected to the microtransactions, which, ultimately, led to EA firing him.
In an interview with Venture Beat, Fan reiterated his opposition to free-to-play games and how that trend has made games that aren't fun to make or play anymore. He said:
"There are some aspects of this business model that make it so — you’re not making games to be fun anymore. You’re playing to — here’s the stuff that addicts players, that makes people come back. You’re implementing these strategies to hook people, but they’re not necessarily having fun with your game anymore. They’re compelled to play because they need to increase their level or feel like they’re making some other kind of progression. But if you asked them, 'Hey, take a step back. Strip away all of this. Is the moment to moment gameplay fun for you?' in a lot of cases I bet the answer would be no."
Most mobile games now, though, are free-to-play, using microtransactions to profit from titles. It's also happening frequently with PC and console games, too, although some players are fed up with companies attempting to nickel and dime them to death. When Counter Strike: Global Offensive went free-to-play, fans reacted negatively and bombed the game's Steam page with negative reviews. Although that situation was slightly different, with some having already paid for the game before it became free, it's still an example of how players are getting burned out on microtransactions.
Players aren't the only ones getting fed up, though. In 2018, PEGI, Europe's version of the ERSB, began combating the microtransactions trend in gaming. In the U.S., at least one Senator is suggesting that the country ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions completely. Players have become more vocal about how much they hate the free-to-play business model, but until they stop paying for microtransactions, publishers like EA will continue to take their money.
Source: Venture Beat