Published on August 3rd, 2012 | by Cameron Woolsey, Editor-in-Chief0
On Top of Everything, EA Sues Zynga for Copyright Infringement
I can put it no simpler than to say that things really haven’t been going Zynga’s way. Amid the company stocks falling 41 percent and other controversy, EA has announced today that the company is suing Zynga over copyright infringement.
EA has decided to take the social game maker to court, claiming that Zynga’s Facebook game, The Ville, deliberately lifted the look and design elements of The Sims Social. Though I personally feel that many of these social games look so alike that they’re beginning to blend together, apparently EA believes that similarities between the two are a little too close.
Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of the Maxis label, gave us this statement:
As outlined in our complaint, when The Ville was introduced in June 2012, the infringement of The Sims Social was unmistakable to those of us at Maxis as well as to players and the industry at large. The similarities go well beyond any superficial resemblance. Zynga’s design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions have been directly lifted from The Sims Social. The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable. Scores of media and bloggers commented on the blatant mimicry.
This is a case of principle. Maxis isn’t the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it. Infringing a developer’s copyright is not an acceptable practice in game development. By calling Zynga out on this illegal practice, we hope to have a secondary effect of protecting the rights of other creative studios who don’t have the resources to protect themselves.
I’m certain there will be a response. Some will say The Ville simply iterates; some will tell us to get over it and move on. We are confident in our position, and that we will prevail.
But even if we do not, we will have made a point.
As a longstanding game developer, I know what it feels like to pour your heart and soul into creating something unique and special for your fans to enjoy. Today, we hope to be taking a stand that helps the industry protect the value of original creative works and those that work tirelessly to create them.
A couple of years ago an unknown ex-Zynga employee emerged to claim that Zynga boss Mark Pincus told his developers, “You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers” (source). If true, then perhaps someone should have noted that copying a competitor’s game to the letter may not pan out as well as planned.
Will this lawsuit be the final nail in Zynga’s coffin? As of right now the outlook is not looking so good for the Farmville developer.