Plants vs. Zombies Hybrid Edition goes viral in China · TechNode

Plants vs. Zombies Hybrid Edition, a remastered version of the classic tower defense video game published by the American company PopCap Games, went viral in China in June, 15 years after its first release. 

The creator of the Hybrid Edition is blogger Submarine Weiweimi (our translation of 潜艇伟伟迷 in Chinese) who posts on Chinese video platform Bilibili. Chinese netizens nicknamed him Cyber Mendel (father of modern genetics) because of the unique appearances and intriguing abilities he has given the plants and zombies in the new version.

Why it matters: The Hybrid Edition entices users with nostalgia and innovative gameplay, blending classic elements with new twists. In June, China’s live-stream gaming channels were flooded with images of vibrant landscapes and intense plant-based explosives.

Details: Submarine Weiweimi chose not to market this Hybrid Edition as a commercial product but aimed to provide a free gaming experience for players in China. The free strategy brought more players to the game, increasing its influence and popularity in China.

  • The Hybrid Edition combines different creatures from the game Plants vs. Zombies, creating new species with dual-layered abilities. For instance, in the original game, Peashooter attacks zombies, and Sunflower produces the sunlight needed to make more plants. In the Hybrid Edition, these two are combined as Peashooter-Sunflower, which can produce sunlight and shoot pea bombs at the same time.
  • Players can easily grasp the game with minimal effort to enjoy the thrill of gameplay, as both plants and zombies have multiplied their attack power several times through hybridization, compared to the original version.
  • In the past month, Submarine Weiweimi’s Douyin (Chinese Edition of TikTok) account gained 1.47 million followers, while its Bilibili account attracted over 2.45 million followers, making it one of the fastest-growing and most popular KOLs (key opinion leaders) in China, according to market intelligence platform NewRank.
  • As of writing, Submarine Weiweimi’s Bilibili account has 3.97 million followers, 18.69 million likes, and 4.3 billion views. On Bilibili, the influencer released a video responding to the popularity of the Hybrid Edition, stating that he had no grand ambitions but is simply trying to make up for the regrets of his childhood. As a member of the post-2000 generation, he has been deeply attached to the game Plants vs. Zombies since childhood, he said. He created the Hybrid Edition to improve on the original game’s components, he added.
  • The official Bilibili account for Plants vs. Zombies announced last week that the third-party modified work Plants vs. Zombies Hybrid Edition has been integrated into its mini-program, allowing players to experience it in the game’s creative mode, according to local media outlet IThome.

Context: On November 20, 2023, Submarine Weiweimi released the first video of the Plants vs. Zombies Hybrid Edition series titled Hybrid Plants on Bilibili. Subsequent videos in the Hybrid Plants series have continued to gain video views, with enthusiastic fans actively engaging in the comments section, sharing creative ideas and suggestions to support the game.

  • On March 27, the blogger released the downloadable files for the self-developed game Hybrid Edition 1.0 for free. On June 13, the Hybrid Edition version 2.1 was launched.

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Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail:
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