'Plants vs Zombies' creator confirms getting fired by EA, but plot thickens

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A person dressed as a zombie in the "Zombies vs Plants 2" game walks down the street to E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles, California, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/David McNew (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS ENTERTAINMENT)

Reports of Electronic Arts firing “Plants vs. Zombies” creator George Fan have spread like wildfire, much to the ire of gamers still disappointed over the video game publisher’s questionable pay-to-win tactics in “Star Wars Battlefront 2.” Fan himself has confirmed parts of these claims, but not before a PvsZ2 producer released a statement addressing the controversy.

It began when “Super Meat Boy” designer Edmund McMillen appeared on a podcast and narrated a story about Fan getting fired by EA due to the creator’s stance against making PvsZ2 a pay-to-win game. The statement was quickly picked up by major news outlets, igniting stronger backlash against Electronic Arts.

The next day, Allen Murray, lead producer for “Plants vs. Zombies 2,” posted a series of tweets (see below), saying that the reports were “not even close to the truth.” According to Murray, Fan himself was never involved in the game, and that he was working on another title that never released.

“George was unfortunately part of the layoffs in Aug ‘12, but I know none of the details surrounding his departure,” Murray tweeted. “In Oct ‘12 there was a change in franchise leadership that mandated a shift to f2p mobile.”

Still, the reason for Fan’s dismissal has not been made clear. The PvsZ2 creator, however, then released his own statement, saying, “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.”

Through his tweet, Fan has confirmed two things: that he was indeed laid off by Electronic Arts, and that he was against pay-to-win elements in “Plants vs. Zombies 2.” But whether or not the latter is indeed the reason for his removal, it is still uncertain.

Writing for Kotaku, Jason Schreier heard from two anonymous sources, both of which were “former high-level Popcap employees,” that Fan’s removal was “part of a larger set of layoffs in August 2012 that left 50 Popcap employees out of jobs.” The sources added that Fan’s “ethos” working as an independent game developer clashed with that of Electronic Arts. They also confirmed what Murray had tweeted: that Fan was working on another project, not PvsZ2.

The real story is still out there. Supporters are expecting George Fan to release a complete statement that clarifies the truth, while Murray, according to his tweets, is “happy to chat offline.”