pvz2iconWhen PopCap announced late last month that they would be rescheduling the release date for their highly-anticipated sequel Plants vs. Zombies 2, we hypothesized that it was due to some concerns raised during the hands-on previews they were doing at E3 which showed a game that might have some strange balance issues and a heavy emphasis on IAP items. We shared some of those concerns in our own E3 preview.

Well, it looks like that actually is part of the reason for the delay, with the other part being that PopCap wants to stress test some of the online functionality of the game before unleashing it on the masses, all according to an interview at Polygon with senior producer Allen Murray. To do this, the game has soft-launched in Australia and New Zealand today.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 will utilize a cloud saving feature, so you can share your progress across different devices, and PopCap wants to make sure that this works seamlessly so there are no game save losses due to bugs. Nothing worse than losing all your progress, am I right? It also sounds like the game will use their own online solution, rather than something like Apple's iCloud, so being able to stress test the servers themselves is also crucial to a smooth worldwide launch. Murray states that "Our number one goal with the soft launch is server stability."

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Besides the online portions of the game, balancing and tweaking the in-app purchases is also part of the soft-launch strategy. Similar to the soft-launch of Real Racing 3 earlier this year, all of the free-to-play elements of Plants vs. Zombies 2 will be in flux during the limited release. Changes will be made based on player feedback and spending habits.

A free-to-play model isn't something that's easy to do with a game like Plants vs. Zombies, according to Murray, because its appeal covers such a wide audience from casual to hardcore and everyone in-between. Murray says "Our philosophy is to not be heavy-handed and very soft in our approach. Anyone with enough time and skill can unlock all content."

We'll be watching closely to see how the soft-launch of Plants vs. Zombies 2 shakes out, and in fact we've gone ahead and downloaded the soft-launch version of the title to give it a spin for ourselves. You can watch us livestream the game in the embed below, or directly from our Twitch.tv channel. UPDATE: Stream's over, but here's an archive:


Watch live video from TouchArcade on TwitchTV

You can read more early impressions from the players in our forums who have grabbed the game, and if you're in the Australia or New Zealand territories or you have access to an account for one of those App Stores, you can grab Plants vs. Zombies 2 using the link below.

[Polygon]

Australia and New Zealand App Store Link: Plants vs. Zombies 2, Free (Universal)

  • hourglass

    Plants vs. Zombies has always been a 'meh' for me. Plants and zombies? Nah.

    • fdmstryct

      Nobody cares.

    • MonkeyChunks

      It has also been a "meh" game for me. It takes so long for the game to get started. Then they took out zombie Michael Jackson and put in a disco zombie. Not cool.

      • TeddyNYC

        Yeah, I was disappointed to see the thriller zombie get replaced by that lame disco zombie. Thankfully, I kept a copy of the last PvZ version with the MJ thriller zombie.

      • dibdib

        They did it out of respect for his family.

      • pxlpshr

        Why "out of respect" - I mean Mikey did the Thriller video in the 80s. There's no disrespect in paying homage to one of the best music videos the world has seen. More like they did it to avoid Mikey's very litigious family.

      • 28monkeys

        There are people who aren't gamers like we do so they may feel disrespected.

        Think broader, kid.

    • oldgamer dude

      I care hourglass , now lets get to the bottom of your fear and loathing of PVZ. I want you to think back to your childhood ... Ok you had a cactus right? .......... Now what happened with that cactus, it's going to be painful , but be strong - we'll sort this out straight away :)

    • 28monkeys

      A boy with "hour glass" name? A loner.

  • Jake7905

    The soft release of a "free-to-play" sequel to a great premium game, by a formally great developer now owned by EA, sounds like Real Racing 3 déjà vu.

  • Jaylewl

    I just downloaded.... Gfx is better same gameplay...

  • themostunclean

    It's times like these that I'm happy to be a fake New Zealander.

    • oldgamer dude

      + 1 :) lets throw another shrimp on the barbi.

      Oops dumb and dumber reference.

      • bluspacecow

        That's an Ozzie reference LOL

    • greatnoob

      'Straya

    • pacman4484

      I did that too

  • XvEsunavX

    Weird thing. I have no icon for the app, it doesn't show up in the task bar either.

    • Flare_TM

      You should

      • XvEsunavX

        ::youdontsay::

    • garet jax

      Can you play the game?

      • XvEsunavX

        Have to switch to nz store and hit open via App Store but yes I can.

  • TeddyNYC

    I wonder if PvZ 2 will be released sooner than "late summer" now that AU/NZ has it? It would seem odd if they had it exclusively for a couple of months. I don't think it would take that long to test EA's servers.

    • garet jax

      I have reas anywhere from 3 weeks to at least a month. Going by that information I would guess 3-4 weeks before the USA/Europe release and probably worldwide,

  • NOEN

    So far I'm liking the game. It's more of the same, but I'm cool with that. Haven't ran across and timers or anything. The only IAPS so far are about 5 upgrades and a few starter packs for the impatient. Pretty much it's PVZ2 for free........for now. Once EA figures out they aren't making enough on the upgrades and starter packs, BAM!!! Slap on the timers!!!

    • DtheGOPkiller

      And that's why they should just charge for the game once. Then maybe extra level packs IAP? But this free timers style garbage is disgusting.

      • garet jax

        I agree. This is one of the better designed F2P though.

      • themostunclean

        Agree.

        The IAP seems reasonable and appealing enough on its own to avoid the devs putting up paywalls in the game.

  • Flare_TM

    Just made an Australian apple ID with fake email and because the games free you don't need to enter any credit card details.

    Downloaded PvZ 2 and works in amongst all my other existing apps, np!

    • Robert A. Petersen

      Don't suppose you want to share your fake email/login? I made a fake too but the game is listed as no longer available.

      Should still be able to get it by going to purchase history though. If your're willing, hit me up at: Petersen.Mobile@Gmail.com

      • andrew9oh7

        Really?cause I just made one and I found it no problem

      • garet jax

        If you can't find it open the original PvZ, then go down to developer info, click and you will see all of pop caps games there. Since it is so new it will be at or near the end of the list. Assuming you are using iphone or ipad.

      • themostunclean

        All I had to do was an NZ App Store search for "Plants vs Zombies 2" and it came right up as the first hit.

        May want to make sure you're not still on a non AU/NZ App Store.

      • kr3w_tony77

        Use my account man.

        Stanleyagallagher@rhyta.com

        Password: Riest1963
        :)

  • James

    Free to play is something developers have to spend time to figure out how to work in. There isn't one example of a game where it actually improved the gameplay. However there are plenty examples of how a game wouldn't exist without it. It's sort of the hand that feeds that you want to bite.

    It's just sad the the economy of the app store basically demands developers to to figure out how to work it in.

  • blackout845

    The graphics are not HD, PVZ origianl after the retina update has better graphics then the sequal, kinda stupid if you ask me, ofcorse i can tell the difference you didnt think i would notice? Shame on you

    • themostunclean

      iPhone 5 was HD retina/widescreen out of the box for me. For iPad you need to download the retina assets update (in-app).

  • Adan Santos

    Very disappointed it doesn't have retina support on the iPad. It thought ALL apps and games were required to have this and iPhone 5 support. I guess Apple will turn a blind eye for EA!

    • Adan Santos

      Ah... the retina graphics download when you first run the game :-)

    • Sentinel

      Just install the patch in game.

  • echo_pdx

    If you're locking up a handful of plants as "premium plants," then no, one cannot unlock "all" the content via play. This doublespeak drives me crazy.

    • garet jax

      Did the developer say that?

    • themostunclean

      All the locked plants are ones I never used in the first game anyway. Except the fertilizer one which seems pointless since zombies also drop fertilizer.

  • Bliquid

    I kinda appreciated the "who has enough time and skills can unlock everything", raised my hopes again for the sequel of a game i love.

    But judging by some comments made in this post, it doesn't look that way.

    Worried again.

    • Jazzpha

      Also, it raises the question of how much time is "enough" time to unlock everything. Days? Months? I'm leaning toward cynical on this one, unfortunately.

  • Hawaii Jeff

    Someone posted the IAP screens on Flickr, and it's disgusting how expensive everything is.

    I spent money buying the original PvZ on both iPad & Xbox, but they won't see 1 dime from me for this travesty.

  • Adan Santos

    Is the 'cloud save' working for anyone? Not for me so far. Been playing on iPad, but progress doesn't appear on iPhone :-(

  • sakara214ever

    EA!!! Nahh staying away.

  • RunningWild

    It's sad to see another franchise having sold out to a greedy company. Won't be going anywhere near this.

  • jhoughto123

    I'm not a fan of the art style, was better in PvZ 1. Also there's like 6 or so plants you can only get through IAP which include the snow pea, squash and jalapeno. They cost $2.99 each which would be same in US. IMO, a meh sequel which is a bit too greedy with IAP.

  • BenitoAjax

    Too bad, it crashes on my iPhone 5 running iOS 7.

  • rfdtrtdf

    The new version is free to play, but some premium items should be purchased via IAP. It will also support multiple accounts on one single device and these accounts are allowed to share the items you purchase. Plants vs Zombies 2 is out for NZ and AU. Search AppsGoer to get a full review.

    • HelperMonkey

      Strange... I feel like I already read an article with this info...

  • Derprozess

    So, EA will take all the cool games out there and make them freemium, hmmm...

  • iValerio90

    PVZ 1 forever...F**K YOU EA.
    F**K freemium F**K every city builder/endless runner game F**K firemonkeys F**K gameloft F**K people ( yes, its all ur fault.)

  • Sabaki

    Here's how I created an Australian profile.

    1. Sign out your current profile.
    2. Begin creating an account for either the Australian or New Zealand App Stores.
    3. Abort! Don't complete just yet.
    4. Search for PVZ2.
    5. A prompt for sign in with existing/create new account will pop up.
    6. Select create account.

    There you go :)
    Doing it the above method allows you to create an account without having to enter credit card details.

  • kr3w_tony77

    Sign in with this New Zealand account I created!

    Stanleyagallagher@rhyta.com

    Password: Riest1963

    Enjoy guys!

  • rfdtrtdf

    Plants vs. Zombies 2 is built upon the original fascinating tower defense formula, but adds a time travel twist, which allows you to take a crazy journey with Crazy Dave as you exterminate waves of zombies in mysterious Ancient Egypt, perilous Pirate Seas, and dusty Wild West. Fully impressed by AppsGoer’s review on Plants vs. Zombies 2.

  • seyss

    this crap doesn't have retina graphics on iPad and no save sync between your devices!!

  • Pheebers

    Not liking the forced updates -- I'm traveling and don't have my NZ login info, and it won't let me past the splash screen without clicking ok to update. Grrrr.