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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.

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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+