Following the recent storm of controversy around the microtransactions in both Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Need for Speed: Payback, is has been reported that George Fan, creator of the hugely popular Plants vs. Zombies, has been laid off by EA.
Speaking on the Round Table Live! podcast, Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy designer Edmund McMillen mentioned that EA has been planning its rather aggressive microtransactions implementation for a number of years. In an example of the extent EA is going to with regards to the issue, McMillen stated the following on the podcast:
“This is a semi-unknown story, and I hope I’m not stepping on toes with it… It involves a friend of mine, George Fan… 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] were like, ‘Okay, we’re going to focus on this and we’re going to make a sequel, we’re going to do spin-offs, this and this’. And George was like, ‘Great, I’ve got an idea for a sequel!’… It was his baby… 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'”
Following the statement coming out with the release of the podcast, Fan himself took to Twitter to acknowledge that he was indeed Laid off by EA/PopCap, and that he was indeed against making Plants vs. Zombies 2 a freemium game. He refused to comment further on the issue.
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, porg fan (@thegeorgefan) November 21, 2017
A lot of people in the debate around microtransactions have been lumping developers and publishers together with regards to the will to implement microtransactions into titles. This shows that, at least in some cases, this is not the case. It also shows the risks that developers take if they refuse their implementation.