PopCap CEO defends free-to-play

Dave Roberts acknowledges that business model "can be flawed," but doesn't think users will have issues with Plants vs. Zombies 2.

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PopCap CEO Dave Roberts has spoken out to defend the free-to-play business model employed in his studio's latest game Plants vs. Zombies 2.

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Speaking with Geekwire, Roberts said he does not agree with the notion that free-to-play games are inherently out to take advantage of gamers. Instead, he said the free-to-play model allows games to reach more people.

"We've gotten a lot of flak in the games industry for going free-to-play," Roberts said. "Everyone is: 'free-to-play is so evil.' But, part of it is, look, we can now talk to a million people in a day or two million people in a day or five million people, or whatever it is going to end up with today. That's a huge deal. People forget that freemium can really be a great thing because we are really showing a lot of people the game, and they are excited about it."

Roberts acknowledged that, like any other business model, the free-to-play business "can be flawed, or it can be great." The difference lies in execution, he said.

"With PVZ, we have a pretty important brand here and we are trying to protect it," Roberts said. "Even the old game, the PVZ game, here years later, has millions of active daily users. It is a game that people love to play over and over."

Ultimately, Roberts said Plants vs. Zombies 2 uses its free-to-play model in a way that "preserves what we believe is the great game experience and customer experience."

It's not only PopCap that believes in the free-to-play model. Roberts pointed out that paid games are not often found near the top of the highest-grossing charts on iTunes or Google Play.

"That's the sad truth," Roberts said. "People have decided that free-to-play is a better way for them to monetize. And some of the purists would argue that the industry has made them do that."

Plants vs. Zombies 2 launched for iOS yesterday in North America after a soft launch in Australia and New Zealand last month. The game will be available for additional platforms later.

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