Zynga’s Top Executive In New York Apologizes For Another Round Of Bad Publicity

Dan Porter

Dan Porter, the former CEO of OMGPOP, now general manager of Zynga New York, apologized to his colleagues on Friday for saying that the company copied ideas for games.

The company posted his email to the Zynga blog.

“Zynga is often accused of copying games, which is mostly true,” Porter reportedly said in a panel discussion at a startup’s offices in New York Wednesday night, according to Quartz.

In a subsequent email to the Quartz reporter, Porter clarified his remarks:

What I said was that everyone in the games business copies games. That is the nature of the business and has been well before Zynga was ever in business. My point was that obsessing over the copying of games is really not that interesting and misses the main point.

… I should know better. Lesson learned. Sometimes it is truly better to say nothing at all.

While the copying of ideas from games is controversial in the industry, U.S. law is very clear on this point: There is no copyright protection for games as games. Only visual or written elements of a game, like the game board or instructions, can be copyrighted.

Zynga and Electronic Arts recently agreed to drop a lawsuit over claims that The Ville copied elements of EA’s Sims franchise.

Porter did make an interesting point, which is that Zynga’s skills as a company are around growing and adapting games over time to keep them fresh for users.

This is not the first time Porter’s gotten in hot water over remarks he’s made at an event.

In November, he talked frankly about what it was like getting acquired by Zynga, including counseling some employees with limited opportunities post-acquisition to leave. (There appears to have been a misunderstanding over whether the event was on or off the record, prompting the publication which first reported Porter’s comments to pull down its article about them.)

Not that these incidents appear to have hurt Porter.

In a recent consolidation of remote offices, Porter emerged as the top Zynga executive on the East Coast, absorbing employees from a second New York studio as well as some from closed studios in Baltimore and Boston.

And though a drop in paying customers for Draw Something—the hit mobile drawing game which prompted Zynga to buy OMGPOP—has hurt Zynga’s financials, the company recently celebrated Draw Something’s one-year anniversary by announcing it had seen more than 100 million downloads.

Draw Something remains an important franchise for Zynga, which has increasingly emphasised its mobile titles as traffic to its social games on Facebook has dropped.