Electronic Arts is constantly picking up steam to likely take the Worst Company in America award once more now that news has surfaced about them allegedly firing Plants Vs Zombies creator, George Fan, for resisting the implementation of pay-to-win mechanics, cash shop items, and microtransactions in the Plabts Vs Zombies sequel.
MP1st did a report on the matter, where Fan acknowledged the initial rumors that were reported about his firing, tweeting the following statement.
Regarding recent rumors, it is true I was laid off by EA/PopCap, and also true that I was against making PvZ2 a freemium game. That’s all I’ll say on the matter for now
— George Fan (@thegeorgefan) November 21, 2017
This response came in light of a YouTube podcast from BaerTaffy, where indie developer Edmund McMillen shared a story about the incident on the November 17th, 2017 episode of the podcast, in which he stated…
“So George [Fan] made a game called “Insaniquarium.” He made it ages ago and it won a lot of awards, and he got headhunted by PopCap. And PopCap hired him, set him off with two more people in a small office, and said, “hey, make the game” and he’s like “okay I’m going to make Plants vs. Zombies.” And he made Plants vs. Zombies, it was hugely successful, and they got acquired by EA, EA made that game even more successful. And they were like, “okay, we’re going to focus on this and we’re going to make a sequel, we’re going to do spinoffs, this and this.” And George was like, “great! I’ve got an idea for a sequel!” And he developed this game independently as well, with an independent mindset with a small team of people. It was personal. Knowing the guy, I can see the characters are personal, every little bit and pieces is something from him. So it was his baby. And they’re like “hey, y’know, let’s make this sequel, start on the sequel, and we’re going to put it on mobile, and we’re going to do this pay-to-win.” And he’s like, “ah, I dunno, it’s not a good idea, and I don’t really want to do that with my game, and they said, “you’re fired.” And he left.”
Cue all the EA rage.
Based on that anecdote it comes across as no surprise that Electronic Arts would wield haste to fire someone for not being on board with ravaging their own game with microtransactions. It’s a shame because PopCap used to be a powerful up-and-coming indie developer, and now they’ve grown into another forgettable scute on the calcified husk of EA’s growing mantelpiece of indoctrinated studios they’ve reaped over the years.
However, Kotaku is reporting that the rumors about EA firing Fan for not abiding by the ethos of microtransactions isn’t entirely true. They say a former developer who worked on Plants Vs Zombies 2 told them that Fan was let go as part of the layoffs that happened back in 2012 and that he wasn’t even on the project for the Plants Vs Zombies sequel. In a way, it doesn’t necessarily refute what McMillen is saying, though, since Fan’s refusal to work on a freemium game with microtransactions did indirectly lead to him being let go.
PopCap’s Allen Murray told a similar story on Twitter, saying that during his tenure at PopCap and while he worked on Plants vs Zombies 2, Fan was not working on the project…
“Cool. Since this picked up some traction, I should state the facts that I know. I was the lead producer from Jan ‘12 to launch in July ‘13, about 18mo. George was never involved during the time I worked on the project. He was working on a different game, which was super fun!”
McMillen retorts that the fallout between Fan and EA could have occurred before Murray got involved., which very well could be the case. We’ll likely never know the true reasons because of NDAs and settlements, but given EA’s track record it’s not hard at all to believe someone would be fired for not condoning microtransactions, especially after seeing how aggressive the company was with including premium loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront II.