Zynga Is Sued For Copying Games — Here's The Most Damaging Evidence

mark pincus

Photo: Flickr / Fortune Live Media

Electronics Arts has hit Zynga with a lawsuit accusing it of copying the design and game mechanics of “The Sims Social.”The lawsuit is filled with side-by-side comparisons of Zynga’s “The Ville” and EA’s “The Sims Social.”

After looking at EA’s evidence, we must say it appears as though Zynga did copy certain elements from “Sims Social.”

However, cloning games — called “fast-follows” in the industry — are expected. And while the games may look alike, it’s unclear if Zynga has committed copyright infringement, as EA accuses.

Still, this is the first time Zynga could end up in court against a large company of over a similar issue.

First, some context: this woman, Lucy Bradshaw, and EA's Maxis games division are the ones complaining.

The Sims Social was originally built by Playfish, but many of Playfish's executives, like The Sims Social's Catharina Mallet, have already left. That includes...

... Zynga COO John Schappert. He was formerly COO of EA. He is listed in the lawsuit as having contributed to The Ville with several other old EA executives.

Ironically, this lawsuit is over a web-based game built for Facebook. That line of business is dying for Zynga as consumers spend more time on their phones.

For example, The Ville appears to have peaked at around 7 million daily players, while Zynga's old Facebook games used to reach tens of millions of users.

Zynga's been chastised before for copying games, but typically the complaints come from passive aggressive blog posts, like the one from NimbleBit.

Sometimes they just go silent, because the type of game is so general...

... or because Zynga is just too large to handle.

So what about The Sims Social? EA is large enough to take on Zynga, and they are persistent, so let's take a look at the evidence...

... an artist, with a sketchpad...

... or a partier carrying around alcohol.

EA argues the customisation is similar too, because you can pick skin tones that are near-identical in both games.

If you set up your house in the right way, they look very similar, EA says.

This one is weird. EA says the doors on Sims Social are the same height as on The Ville. (See the illustration on the second door?)

So, there are some cosmetic similarities, sure. But the same could be true of any home-building game.

For the rest of it, well...

... they ARE things that happen in every day life...

... so we're not sure just what to make of that.

For posterity's sake, both of these games are based off of a revolutionary game made in the early 2000s by Will Wright called The Sims.

The game came to define a genre, and only one of the games in the lawsuit — The Sims Social — is a direct sequel.

So, is The Ville just a rip off of The Sims Social? You be the judge. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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