In 2011, Electronic Arts acquired the company PopCap, which, among many popular titled, also made Heavy Weapon, AstroPop, and Bookworm Adventures. However, instead of focusing on the creation of new content, it focused primarily on sequels and spinoffs.
So when it came time to create and publish Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time, Electronic Arts decided it wanted to load the game with microtransactions. This became so much of an issue because Electronic Arts wanted a “pay to win” feature, that would prevent people from progressing in the game without spending real world currency to do so.
This story came out after Binding of Isaac director Edmund McMillen mentioned it via a podcast called Roundtable Live. He claimed
And they’re like hey let’s make the sequel, we’re gonna put it on mobile, and we’re gonna do this “pay to win.” And he’s like, ah I don’t know, that’s not a good idea, I don’t really want to do that with my game, and they said “You’re fired.” And he left… This is such a newsworthy thing, and it’s frustrated me for years that there’s not news stories about this.
George Fan, who created the first Plants vs Zombies, was opposed to this idea. It wasn’t long after Fan disagreed that he was laid off of the company. According to George fan on Twitter, “Regarding recent rumors, it is true I was laid off by Electronic Arts/PopCap, and also true that I was against making PvZ2 a freemium game. That’s all I’ll say on the matter for now” Basically confirming the rumors.
Many fans of the game also protested at the time. They preferred the original game and did not appreciate the forced microtransactions the game offered at the time. George Fan, however, went back to independent game development. He is currently working on the title Octogeddon.