UPDATE: Since the report was published, there have been notes going around indicating that Fan may have just been let go due to layoffs.
Fan has noted the situation, stating, "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."
It's a bit on the vague side, but he did acknowledge his dismissal. We'll keep you informed as other details come up.
ORIGINAL STORY: There’s a lot of negative talk right now about Microtransactions and games going the pay-to-play route, with Electronic Arts at the forefront with Star Wars: Battlefront II. But according to a story told on a recent podcast, the publisher has been in on this strategy for some time – and it may have cost a crucial party his job.
On the latest BaerTaffy YouTube podcast (as originally published by the team at MP1st), video game designer Edmund McMillen of Super Meat Boy Forever and The Binding of Isaac fame stopped by to talk about the whole microtransaction controversy, and he brought up an interesting story regarding Plants vs. Zombies creator George Fan, and how a decision on the game’s sequel got him shuffled out the door at EA.
“You guys want to hear an industry story that has to do with EA and an independent developer? This is a semi-unknown story, and I hope I’m not stepping on toes with it, but I know I can…as long as I say it like a ‘slightly fuzzy on the details.’
“It involves a friend of mine, George Fan. So George 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.”
EA hasn’t made any sort of comment on the situation, but apparently Fan doesn’t have any sort of NDA signed on the ordeal, so we may hear from him soon.