With the recent release of Star Wars: Battlefront 2, the spotlight has been on Electronic Arts (EA) and not for all the right reasons. We all know that EA can be a little greedy with microtransactions but there is a line you just don’t cross.
Roundtable Live, a gaming podcast, featured Edmund McMillen. The creator of Super Meat Boy and The Binding of Isaac sheds light on the injustice of one of EA’s former developers. George Fan, the creator of Insaniquarium but you probably know him for his work in Plants vs. Zombies, was fired because he did not want to include pay-to-win microtransactions in the sequel.
Before he made Plants vs. Zombies, Fan made Insaniquarium, a widely praised and free aquarium-sim game. This led to Fan being scouted by PopCap Studios, who funded for his development of Plants vs. Zombies. Fan was given a small team of two other people whilst they developed a new game, Plants vs. Zombies for the company. The tower defense-esque game ran away with popularity and got just about everyone addicted.
Shortly after, PopCap Studios was acquired by EA in 2011 and Fan was asked to create the sequel. And this is where things get a bit dodgy on the details. EA told Fan to include microtransactions in the game to make it more pay-to-win. Fan refused and EA terminated his employment.
This story came from McMillen, who knows Fan personally. He has voiced his displeasure on behalf of his friend as the story is not well known. We do not know why Fan has not come forward with this story.
TRANSCRIBED FROM ROUNDTABLE LIVE!
“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. “