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PvZ2_LogoS_Tag_RGBPlants vs. Zombies 2 has been downloaded more than 16 million times since its release last Thursday, making it the largest mobile game launch in the history of Electronic Arts, the parent company of Seattle’s PopCap Games.

The company announced the milestone this morning, saying that gamers have spent more than 25 million hours playing the game — generating more than 11 billion suns, taking on more than 2 billion zombie waves, and planting more than 4 billion plants. (Yes, there’s no end to what technology companies can measure these days.)

The download figure is notable because PopCap shifted to a free-to-play model and released the game initially as an iOS exclusive, for playing on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The approach lets gamers download and play the game for free with the option to purchase additional features and power-ups inside the game — an annoyance for some gamers.

In an interview with GeekWire last week, PopCap CEO Dave Roberts acknowledged that the free-to-play or “freemium” approach can be controversial but said PopCap is approaching the model carefully, and reaching a much wider audience than if it were still charging for the game up front.

Roberts said, “We’ve gotten a lot of flak in the games industry for going free-to-play. 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. … 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.”

GeekWire Review: PopCap strikes right chord with fun and charming Plants vs. Zombies 2

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