EA has been in hot water lately with the Star Wars Battlefront II microtransaction fiasco. To add even more fuel to the fire, it was revealed that George Fan, indie game developer and creator of Plants vs. Zombies, was released from EA after a disagreement with Plants vs. Zombies 2‘s “pay to win” model.
Edmund McMillen, game developer of Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac and outspoken member in the indie game community, was a guest on an episode of the Roundtable Live! podcast that talked about microtransactions. During the discussion, McMillen brought up the story of how George Fan, his friend, was dismissed from EA while making Plants vs. Zombies 2 because of a “pay to win” business model surrounding microtransactions.
McMillen recounts how Fan got his roots, having created Insaniquarium and eventually getting noticed by PopCap Games. He was brought on by the company to make his next game and what he came up with was Plants vs. Zombies. After the success of the title, EA bought PopCap Games and continued to bolster the popularity and success of Plants vs. Zombies. “He developed this game independently, as well with an independent mindset with a small team of people,” said McMillen. “It was personal. Knowing the guy, I can see the characters are personal. Every little bit and piece is something from him, so it was his baby.”
However, when it came time to make Plants vs. Zombies 2 in 2013, EA apparently wanted to introduce a “pay to win” system in the game. George Fan disagreed with the company’s decision to implement this business model in his game, and as a result, EA released George Fan from the company. “This was ages ago that he took a stand against something like that in a video game […] and the response was, ‘See ya. If you don’t wanna play by the rules, then you can play by yourself.'”
When questioned with what “freemium” things were being asked from Fan to implement into Plants vs. Zombies 2, McMillen responded by stating “it’s one of those situations where I feel like George should be talking about this. I’m fuzzy on the details either way, so I don’t wanna say the wrong thing.”
George Fan has also confirmed these statements to be true on his Twitter, but he also does not want to pursue the matter any further than what has already been said.
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
Although George Fan took a hard hit for standing up against the pay to win system, Fan is now back as an independent game developer and is currently developing Octogeddon, which will be getting a launch date soon.