Braid Creator Criticizes Farmville, Plants vs. Zombies 2

During a public Neuroethics Society meeting at the University of California at San Diego, Braid developer Jonathon Blow called Zynga's popular Facebook franchise Farmville "kind of malicious," and said that the social game is just "reward structure layered on reward structure" with no game at all. Blow also took aim at PopCap's popular game Plants vs. Zombies 2.

"If you look at a game like Farmville, there's actually no game there. It's just reward structure layered on reward structure layered on reward structure with a hollow center," Blow said.

Blow went on to say that Zynga's only aim with Farmville is to encourage players to spend money for virtual items or to get their friends to play.

"All they're trying to do is get you to either give them money or pull friends into the game in order to potentially, eventually give them money," Blow said.

Blow also took a shot at Plants vs. Zombies 2, noting that the game's tutorial can't be completed until players are shown how to spend real-world money on virtual items. This is odd, he claims, because the entire game can be completed without paying for anything.

"This is a way that they're trying to profit from you. And they know that rather than just tell you how to do this; when they can make you perform an action that they want you to perform later, you've crossed a barrier, you've broken an initial resistance, and it's easier to get you to do stuff later," Blow said.

Blow is currently working on a new game called The Witness, set to launch as a timed-exclusive for the PlayStation 4 sometime in 2014.

Source: GameSpot

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  1. 0
    Davvolun says:

    Honestly, I would. I bought Braid for $15 with no regrets (even though playtime-wise I would have been a bit happier at $10) because it was a well-balanced game. When there are paid content options, inevitably, the thought will come up: "well, if the player has serious problems at this point, they can just spend $x and buy this thing to help them past the level." That is flawed and severely reduces the value of the game to me. Let's say game A costs a flat $20 and game B has the net cost of all the game-affecting paid content equal to $20. Then game A is still a more valuable game to me because they only thought process while developing the game is "how can we make this a better game for our customers, who have already bought the product". That *may* be true of game B as well, but if I hit a level that is particularly difficult, I can't help but wonder, did they tune the difficulty a little higher so I'll buy that special plant that would simplify the level a lot, or were they trying to balance the game properly and I just need to keep at it? And that's a game breaking experience, that's an unenjoyable prospect.

    I'm ignoring DLC like horse armor and fancy hats because I think it's a completely different beast. If I like the game enough and I want to send some more money the developers' way by buying the green cowboy hat pack for $5, I think that's a valuable thing to be able to do. It's like leaving a tip jar out at a coffee shop. It doesn't affect the value of the coffee and if I don't want to leave them a little something extra, I don't have to. But if I like them, if I want to, I should be able to, whether it's a no-value-gained paypal donation, or a hat pack.

    Personally, I was so disappointed with the implementation of PvZ 2 versus PvZ (the latter of which I played for probably a solid week of in-game time, all modes included), I haven't given them a dime. The difficulty of PvZ 2 was clearly ratcheted up (there are maybe 2 levels where you don't have to start out with something like an iceberg lettuce or an early aggressive plant, whereas PvZ had a smoother difficulty curve and the first chunk of the game can be played leisurely until they start throwing in newer, more difficult modes. That's not to mention ridiculous things like locking the snow pea shooter and torchwood behind pay walls when they were both very basic strategies in the first game. It's…just ridiculous. It's like someone came along and said "okay, PvZ is a good game, how can we milk as much money as possible out of each step of the game."

  2. 0
    Monte says:

    That wasn't my experience… before the update, i got through enough challenges to get all the way to the end of the Wild west world without using any of those power ups at all. Really those power ups are there if you need them, but it seems like most of the challenges were built to be do-able without the powerups even if they can be difficult. I have found myself using some power ups in the updated version of the game, but not only have i gotten some free power ups that i can use(beating certain levels gives power ups and you can win them in the pinata game), i have also by this point stock piled more than enough coins to more than cover the rare need for a power up.Though i do agree the low drop rate of those keys was indeed a problem

    Granted, one thing i don't like about the new set up is that its hard to find the special levels that i like. With the old map all of the special levels of the same kind were all in the same place; so i could replay them any time i wanted… with the new one, those levels are mixed with the others and hard to find. I enjoy some of those courses…

    I also don't like how many of the normal levels have challenges to fulfill. The challenges were fine when it was optional extra to go back and do after you beat the level, but i don't want to have to beat every challenge just to advance. Sure beating challenges was required to get to new worlds, but you could pick and choose which ones, thus take on the easiest ones first… and i found i was able to advance no problem.

  3. 0
    Monte says:

    So you would spend $20 on the game if it had no transactions at all, but you won't spend a dime on the free-to-play version of the game, even though the price of all the premium plants combined is LESS than $20? You might end up spend MORE money getting the mirotransaction free version of the game then you would just [playing the Free version. Honestly, so far i've only spent $2 on the game to buy the Snowpea when it was on sale… Works for me, i don't think the game is good enough to spend $20; i'd never spend that much on it. I'd probably only spend $10 on it.

    Heck this is rather why I feel it works pretty good as a free-to-play game; instead of paying more than I would want, i instead I just pay what i want… If i feel like the game is worth $20, then i can buy $20 in in-app-purchases and have most everything i would want from the premium items… if i think it's only worth $10, then i'll only ever spend $10 on it. A lot of other games price gouge everything… you can't get what you want without spending an absurd amount of money. Most free-to-play games would have you spending hundreds to get what you want out it.

    In a way, i feel like THAT is how a free-to-play game should be. Everything is priced in such a fashion that if customer bought ALL of the premium content, the total would be about how much you would sell the game if it wasn't a free-to-play game… If you would normally have sold the game for $20, then all the premium content combined should not be a whole lot more than $20. Players only buy what they want and thus only spend as much as they think the game is worth.


    Honestly, i am really bugged by the INSTANT hate for free-to-play games with in app purchases. People treat these games like they are all the same, but the free-to-play model is just that, a model. Its system that can be used in anyway the developer wants it too. Its not about the model but how its used that's important; Many abuse the model to get every cent possible form their costumers, while a few others actually use it as a way to increase their cosumer base with the goal of trying to make profit through volume; ultimately it can actually be cheaper for gamers who don't have the cash for a full-game's worth of content. I mean DLC can be the same way; DLC that adds new levels of gameplay can be great, but DLC that charges $5 for new costumes is absrub (honestly i remember when we used to get that stuff for a free as an unlockable)… really, it seems like a lot of people who hate on games that use the free-to-play model never even bothered to look at how they set up their system and their prices and just treat them like the games that actually DO abuse the model to price gouge their costumers.

  4. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Plants Vs Zombies 2 sucks I will never spend money on it. It was not microcraptactual I would have bought it already. I wonder if they will make a game of the year version without the stupid micro transations I'd spend 20$ for that!

  5. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    The update to the game was a major improvement to the original design as far as I am concerned. The old version with certain section locked behind doors that require keys that almost never drop was a huge pain in the but. I was about to give up after beating the Pirate level. At that point I realized that I would have to go back through both Egypt and Pirates and complete nearly every challenge mode to unlock the Cowboy section. Many of those challenge modes require you to use the power moves. 

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  6. 0
    Monte says:

    Can't say i agree with him on Plants vs Zombies 2, as i find that game does the free-to-play(with IAP) model fairly well. I don't recall the games tutorial teaching you how to spend real cash; it did show you how to use the special power ups which cost in-game coins, but the in game coins can be earned through playing the game and not just paid for only; i have stockpiled a lot of coins without paying anything… and really in the games tutorial, it is only natural that they show you how to use all of the game mechanics… granted they might have changed something as there was an update that had the game undergo a massive overhall, and thus could have changed the tutorial

    The game can be completed without having to buy coins, and many of the levels can be done without the power ups. Heck the few times you might feel you need power ups, you will probbaly have stockpiled enough coins that you won't need to pay for them. And considering how the game probably would have been priced for about $20 new, i find the prices that they set for all the plants and upgrades to be rather fair. I mean if you did buy everything You'd spend $30 which is a bit too much, but that's assuming you buy one of everything… and that you didn't wait for a sale. Not to mention that the plants and upgrades actually ADD to the gameplay and not simple cosmetic items like costumes… having something like snowpea or an extra seed slot can be a real game changer. I'd even say the price they set for coins is not too bad.

    Really, most free-to-play games i've seen heavily price gouge everything. Certain extras will cost you so much that you could easily end up spending a $100 trying to get them all. And some games, really test your patience against your wallet by making you wait. I got a cousin who has dump way more cash into an online game than I feel he ever should have, and it was mostly on speeding things up. All in all, i'd say Plants vs Zombies 2 is one of the few cases where i'd say the pricing is pretty fair.

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