Electronic Arts has sued prolific social game makers Zynga over their Facebook game The Ville, in a move that could have repercussions on the iOS app sphere. EA is claiming that Zynga ”copied and misappropriated the original and distinctive expressive elements” of EA’s title Sims Social. Zynga has been accused of stealing other’s designs on more than one occasion, and here’s EA’s statement on the matter:
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.
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.
Neither Sims Social or The Ville are iOS apps, but both are from very recognizable franchises that are, and by prominent iOS developers. Zynga has a number of *ville games in the App Store, like CityVille, and the Sims have been in the App Store for some time.
If this suit is successful, it could have a major impact on Zynga, who is currently battling low stock prices and allegations of stock dumping.
What do you reckon, is this hitting someone while they’re down? Or much needed action against a company that copies ideas wholesale?