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Apple, EA Deny Relationship Over Plants vs. Zombies 2

Both companies publicly deny exclusivity was paid for on iOS.

Apple and Electronic Arts have both vehemently denied the existence of a paid agreement between the two companies to ensure Plants vs. Zombies 2 launched first on iOS.

These denials are in response to a story I filed yesterday, which featured a comment made by a high-level EA executive about Android.

“Apple gave us a truckload of money to delay the Android version [of Plants vs Zombies 2],” said Frank Gibeau, former head of EA Labels and now in charge of EA Mobile.

This quote was confirmed by multiple sources attending an employee-only Electronic Arts town hall, and was verified by other sources who came forward after the story published.

Nonetheless, an EA spokesperson today called the story categorically "not true."

This expands on a statement from the company last night.

“A comment from an internal meeting taken out of context has created an unfortunate misunderstanding,” said a company spokesperson in a statement yesterday. “Reports of a paid relationship between Apple and EA are factually inaccurate, and we apologize for any confusion.”

Plants vs Zombies 2 launched on Android in early September but only in China. According to Gibeau’s other comments at the meeting, the Android version has been outselling (which most likely means more installs, not necessarily monetization) the iOS version six-to-one in China. The international version will roll out in October.

Not long after the story was published, Apple quickly issued a denial, as well. A spokesperson painted the allegation that Apple paid for the exclusive debut of Plants vs. Zombie 2 as “not true.”

Using the term “paid” in the headline may have been overreaching on my part. Based on Gibeau’s comments, which is reporting that I continue to stand by, it’s more likely the companies entered into an agreement that ensured promotion of Plants vs. Zombies 2 in a very meaningful capacity. Promotion on the App Store is extremely powerful, and can make or break a game’s success. The idea that Apple would think of leveraging this opportunity to broker deals is not a crazy one, but I’m also surprised at the flurry of responses from both Apple and EA in regards to this story. This is common practice in the video game industry. In any other case, it wouldn’t even be a story, but where there is smoke, there is fire. I smell smoke here. Did Apple deliver a briefcase of cash to EA? No. Do I believe there was some agreement between the two? More than ever.

You don’t make a comment about “truckloads of money” unless there’s something to back it up.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
78 Comments
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Edited by Morningstar

Why is this such a big deal? It's not the first time it has happened and not the last.

Edited by vikingdeath1

I'VE BEEN LIED TO NOW TELL ME WHO TO BE ANGRY AT!

Posted by BoneChompski

Being paid in services instead of cash is the same thing. Exchange of value.

Posted by Lyfeforce

The amount of effort being put out there to refute the report seems a tad like overkill.

Posted by WilliamHenry

Why is this such a big deal? It's not the first time it has happened and not the last.

Because Apple likes to distance itself from being a game publisher as much as possible. They act like they are above games and that games are only a fraction of the reason why people use their devices. So for them to do something like this, it goes against that whole mindset.

Posted by joshwent

Isn't the only question now... how much did Apple pay EA to say that they never paid them?

Edited by DonPixel

yeah, either true or false: I have no clue on why is this such a big deal...

videogames news, the excitement.

Posted by jaks

It's troubling from a leadership perspective at EA because this means Gibeau is either totally out of the loop in his own department or a bald faced liar. He is pretty far up the ladder to the point of being considered CEO when that job came open. I know it happens all the time, but I don't like it when big companies lie.

Edited by Morningstar

@morningstar said:

Why is this such a big deal? It's not the first time it has happened and not the last.

Because Apple likes to distance itself from being a game publisher as much as possible. They act like they are above games and that games are only a fraction of the reason why people use their devices. So for them to do something like this, it goes against that whole mindset.

Ahh, that'll explain it, thanks for the heads up. I don't know much about Apple as I have none of their devices. They should get off their high horse then, it wouldn't excactly rock the world anyway.

Posted by BBAlpert

"Now hiring: New head of EA Mobile.

Job requirements: Creativity, motivation, and not being a fuckin' snitch"

Posted by StarvingGamer

@patrickklepek said:

You don’t make a comment about “truckloads of money” unless there’s something to back it up.

Beep beep

Posted by RazielCuts

Where are the sources of these responding comments coming from? Are these public press releases or private email responses to you @patrickklepek? I tried to google the 'not true' comment from yesterday and couldn't find it, I would've thought other sites would've picked the response up as well? It also seems like other sites are citing the 'truckload' comment mainly linking to Polygon too?

Posted by patrickklepek

Where are the sources of these responding comments coming from? Are these public press releases or private email responses to you @patrickklepek? I tried to google the 'not true' comment from yesterday and couldn't find it, I would've thought other sites would've picked the response up as well? It also seems like other sites are citing the 'truckload' comment mainly linking to Polygon too?

Everything has been private.

Posted by chilibean_3

When using the words "truckloads of money" I'm more likely to assume it wasn't a serious comment.

Posted by jayjonesjunior

“Apple gave us a truckload of money to delay the Android version [of Plants vs Zombies 2],”

I can't imagine a "context" where this quote means anything but what we all have assumed.

Posted by Hameyadea

ARRRRG! I'm so anrgy that I'll not buy yet another iPhone, I stop at only 5 iPhone models *fakes rage*

c'mon, using "truck loads of money" in the conference (even if invite-only) usually means that some kind of deal was brokered between the 2 parties. Was it a bad choise of words? Probably. Was there some kind of a deal? Most likely. Personally, I find it funny how EA and Apple were quick to outright deny. Too suspicious

Posted by Swick

If it's a quote, then it's a quote. Out of context? I guess that's possible. But again, these corporate entities are screaming way too much for there not to be some truth to this.

Posted by AMyggen

@morningstar: It's also Apple caring more about Android than they usually admit.

Posted by TheHT

You don’t make a comment about “truckloads of money” unless there’s something to back it up.

...beep, beep, beep.

Posted by nadesico33

I remember a quote that seems appropriate (paraphrased, I don't remember the actual quote): "The more vehemently something is true, the more often it is true."

Posted by alternate

typo in the first line

Posted by Clonedzero

Yeah, seriously, why is this a big deal?

Posted by RazielCuts

@patrickklepek: Okay cool, no worries. Just thought if they released some sort of statement in black and white I'd be interested in seeing what context things were said. If they mention PvZ by name or just a general, 'EA is like everyone else who releases on our app store.' Although it does seem weird that they do mention EA by name specifically and not just blow it off as 'we have no special relationship with third parties,' certainly smoke there.

Edited by GalacticPunt

@starvinggamer said:

@patrickklepek said:

You don’t make a comment about “truckloads of money” unless there’s something to back it up.

Beep beep

Truckloads of money backin' up.

Posted by Morningstar

@amyggen: Another good point, certainly.

Posted by cyberfunk

I dont understand why they would deny this? Sony and MS love to boast about their exclusives.

Posted by Bicycle_Repairman

So we can expect a new lunch show called "Scoops and the (fired) Snitch" (Bombin with S&S Think about it, marketing gold) any day now?

Posted by Murdoc_

@chilibean_3: That's exactly how I would take it, not seriously and treat it as an offhand, inaccurate remark. No idea why Patrick is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill on this.

Edited by LycanGav

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Edited by mrfluke

@amyggen said:

@morningstar: It's also Apple caring more about Android than they usually admit.

i think this is the main takeaway.

but i mean in the post jobs era they have been more direct in their quips against android

and jobs i believe is on record saying he would go to thermonuclear war with android.

so i dunno, a more direct move like this is not that shocking to me.

Edited by matseffect

I don't think its that shocking A thing considering its more or less what happens in the console space all the time. I do think its some great reporting by Patrick, he is one of the few people in the games press going great stuff.

I don't see why they would not just confirm it. "Yeah we paid for it", its not the first or last time it has or will happen.

Posted by Budwyzer
  • Plants vs Zombies beta was announced for Brazil and Australia
  • I dug the iPad out of the closet
  • Blew the dust off
  • Had to charge it from dead
  • Setup an Australian account
  • Beat the game without paying any real money
  • Have no idea where the ipad is now

EA lost a sale, and so many more I'm sure, with that terrible F2P model. In fact, the whole grindiness of the entire game almost made me want to stop playing all-together more than it made me want to spend money to open the next world.

Posted by Shaunage

In related news, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is still garbage.

Edited by kwang2000

"In any other case, it wouldn’t even be a story, but where there is smoke, there is fire. I smell smoke here. Did Apple deliver a briefcase of cash to EA? No. Do I believe there was some agreement between the two? More than ever."

Pulitzer prize winning journalism story of the year.

Posted by RedRocketWestie

@joshwent said:

Isn't the only question now... how much did Apple pay EA to say that they never paid them?

What would EA have to gain from throwing Apple under the bus truck full of money? Once one has come out publicly denying a deal, it hurts the business relationship to call them liars, and in the meantime, what do they have to gain? Customer goodwill? For EA, that would be like spitting on a forest fire. No additional money would have been needed for EA to corroborate the story.

Posted by Darlan

I sure seems like they paid for exclusivity and I trust Patrick's reporting, but in the interest of discussing things I suppose there is another possible incentive for iOS exclusivity: just avoiding the android piracy rates for the first few months, much like how Ubisoft delays their PC releases.

Posted by afterland

@morningstar said:

Why is this such a big deal? It's not the first time it has happened and not the last.

Because Apple likes to distance itself from being a game publisher as much as possible. They act like they are above games and that games are only a fraction of the reason why people use their devices. So for them to do something like this, it goes against that whole mindset.

Games ARE only a fraction of their services. Hardware makes up the majority of their profits, which they put out in their earnings call, which anyone can look up. They have never said they are above games, they always demo a game to show off their latest hardware. The conclusions people are jumping to are really bizarre.

In any case, I'm also in the "why is this news?" camp.

Posted by 2HeadedNinja

@darlan said:

I sure seems like they paid for exclusivity and I trust Patrick's reporting, but in the interest of discussing things I suppose there is another possible incentive for iOS exclusivity: just avoiding the android piracy rates for the first few months, much like how Ubisoft delays their PC releases.

That doesn't really make sense if the game is F2P in the first place though.

Online
Posted by Stonyman65

From what I've gathered following this story (loosely, because I don't really care) but it looks like someone at EA let something slip that they shouldn't have, the suits at Apple and EA lost their shit and set the office on fire because of it, and now both of them are backtracking saying they didn't do what they said they did before.

Am I missing anything?

Posted by Foxillusion

I am completely in the dark as to what else "Apple gave us a truckload of money to delay the Android version" could possibly mean. What could the 'context' possibly have been

Edited by Popogeejo

Behead those who criticise Mac.

Pay no attention to the shady deals behind the glowing white apple.

That Apple wasn't and still isn't being open about their business deals is fine since everyone else does it. Don't make me have to get off of my high horse.

Posted by NoelVeiga

@stonyman65 said:

From what I've gathered following this story (loosely, because I don't really care) but it looks like someone at EA let something slip that they shouldn't have, the suits at Apple and EA lost their shit and set the office on fire because of it, and now both of them are backtracking saying they didn't do what they said they did before.

Am I missing anything?

You're missing the part where the "someone at EA" is actually the "suit" in charge of their whole mobile business. There are like one or two guys above him in the entire company.

Kinda puts the whole thing in a different light than what you imply.

Posted by StriderNo9

Good job Patrick, stand by what you reported.

Edited by joshwent
Posted by VibratingDonkey

Good ol moneyhats is alive and well.

Edited by FunkasaurasRex

THESE MOTHERFUCKERS CALLIN SCOOPS A LIAR

LOOK'S LIKE SOMEONE'S GONNA GET GOT BLAT BLAT

Posted by PandaBear

@williamhenry said:

@morningstar said:

Why is this such a big deal? It's not the first time it has happened and not the last.

Because Apple likes to distance itself from being a game publisher as much as possible. They act like they are above games and that games are only a fraction of the reason why people use their devices. So for them to do something like this, it goes against that whole mindset.

Games ARE only a fraction of their services. Hardware makes up the majority of their profits, which they put out in their earnings call, which anyone can look up. They have never said they are above games, they always demo a game to show off their latest hardware. The conclusions people are jumping to are really bizarre.

In any case, I'm also in the "why is this news?" camp.

Microsoft use their resources to the development of Gear of War by Epic and we're all ok with that. Sony get an exclusive contract with thatgamecompany for Journey, Flower and Flow and that's fine too. Apple pay EA to for a timed exclusive on Plants vs Zombies 2 outside of China and suddenly it's a scandal?

Who cares what the wording is... he said "truckload", so what? This isn't the WikiLeaks of game news, this wasn't sourced from secret emails and backroom recordings, it was a quote from a meeting held in a town hall. Jobs wasn't big on games at first, but he softened on them when the money rolled in and newsflash he's dead anyway. It's Cook's show to run now.

I swear if Google did this for Android or even Sony paid to get PvZ 2 as a timed exclusive for Vita people wouldn't care this much.

I joining you in the "Why is this news?" camp "...

Posted by HellknightLeon

This is not a big deal. Even in the start. I think this is just Scoops trying to not be called out. It was a dumb report and the quote was a bad one. I think this is Scoops fault. Keep up the good work, but remember this is not it.

Edited by Tallinn99

PvZ2 was a much anticipated game. The previous game was available on Android. The Chinese version of PvZ2 is available on Android. However it is launched as an iOS exclusive pissing off a whole lot of Android users. I think a story that explains why this happened is news. That the story has been picked up by half the bloody tech media probably backs that up. Of course I'm spending my time commenting on it so I could be biased...

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