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Plants vs Zombies creator may not be around for its sequel

There's confusion over whether the creator behind the popular Plants vs Zombies franchise survived yesterday's layoffs at PopCap, and conflicting statements from the company aren't helping matters.
The creator of PopCap's Plants vs Zombies may not have made it through yesterday's layoffs, though based on conflicting statements from the company, we're just not sure. Following up on unconfirmed online rumors, Gamasutra was told by a PopCap representative this morning that senior game designer George Fan was one of the 50-or-so employees who were let go from the company's Seattle studio yesterday. However, that same representative later recalled his statement, saying that the company "cannot at this time confirm that George Fan was part of the layoffs." The developer laid off employees from its North American branches, including its Seattle headquarters, as part of restructuring plans designed to better accommodate free-to-play, social, and mobile markets. Fan began working at the Electronic Arts subsidiary more than six years ago, when those markets had yet to explode and when PopCap focused on making downloadable PC games that sold for around $20. The company found plenty of success with that approach, but the industry and consumer expectations have changed dramatically since then. PopCap has said it needs to adapt to those changes and reorganize its business. Just a day prior to the layoffs, PopCap announced that it will release a new Plants vs Zombies game in spring 2013. The tower defense series is one of the company's most popular properties it's developed in recent years. Though the original game's director may not be able to see the sequel through, a high-profile source in the indie community tells Gamasutra there are rumblings that Fan will pursue independent projects. Prior to PopCap, Fan worked at Blizzard Entertainment on Diablo III, and also founded his own company, Flying Bear Entertainment (developer of Insaniquarium, which was published by PopCap).

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