I will post the updates on top of the page as developments occur to make it easier to follow this story. I am doing it this way to avoid making a new blog post every time something happens and cluttering the blogspace with bits and pieces of the same story. I will announce any Updates on Twitter to make tracking the story easier.
UPDATE, August 4th, 2012:
Zynga response? Zynga’s General Counsel Reggie Davis released the following statement:
“We are committed to creating the most fun, innovative, social and engaging games in every major genre that our players enjoy. The Ville is the newest game in our ‘ville’ franchise – it builds on every major innovation from our existing invest-and-express games dating back to YoVille and continuing through CityVille and CastleVille, and introduces a number of new social features and game mechanics not seen in social games today. It’s unfortunate that EA thought that this was an appropriate response to our game, and clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of basic copyright principles. It’s also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga’s CityVille game. Nonetheless, we plan to defend our rights to the fullest extent possible and intend to win with players.”
Zynga creates (not steals) innovation? YoVille is not a bad clone of The Sims? SimCity is a clone of CityVille?
Oh, the hilarity!
EA’s timing couldn’t be worse for Zynga with this lawsuit, since last week Zynga’s stock crashed down 40% from its original IPO price, but not for Mark Pincus and his circle of friends who were able to cash out before the stock plummeted. Now, several law firms are investigating Zynga and their seemingly Pump & Dump operation.
Zynga’s army of lawyers are effective in repelling and discouraging small indie developers from defending themselves against their innovation leeching practices because they seldom have enough money to afford justice in our court system, but EA is no bootstrapped indie and it seems that Zynga’s hubris have made them too comfortable. Perhaps Mark Pincus and his company should’ve stuck to bullying indies instead.
July 1st, 2012:
It was inevitable. The success of social networking games has caught the attention of video gaming giant, Electronic Arts and successful games like The Sims have caught the attention of casual gaming giant, Zynga. I knew these two would clash, but today I saw things escalate when a Facebook ad appeared takings a jab at EA:
Break free? It’s ironic that Zynga titled their ad this way when they are notorious for deliberately entrapping their players with addiction using psychological exploits. Not only that, but the ad for Zynga’s new game, The Ville, is a virtually identical to EA’s The Sims, something that the title seems to blatantly taunt EA with. Ouch! Not like EA can do much about it, since games are not protected under current Intellectual Property laws, and this exploit in the IP laws has been Zynga’s secret to success, but their founder and current CEO said it best:
“I don’t fucking want innovation, you’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers.” -Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga
Before Zynga hit small, soft targets such as myFarm, Tiny Tower or Bingo Blitz, they bought a game called YoVille, which was similar to EA’s The Sims; you control a little characters that you can customized, you could also hang out with other players and their little characters and you could decorate your apartment or house. Sure, YoVille isn’t a clone of The Sims, but it is in the same genre. But something funny happened before Zynga bought YoVille from some independent developers; they got a massive influx of funds from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and they put one of their partners on the Zynga board. Who was it? An ex-Creative Officer of EA; Bing Gordon . Before YoVille, Zynga only had Texas Hold’em Poker (now known as Zynga Poker), after Gordon came on board, they found themselves buying a game similar to The Sims.
The plot thickens.
If Zynga’s infamous for leeching innovation from smaller indie developers, EA is infamous for treating their employees like factory line robots, lying to them and even treating their own player base with the same contempt and lack of respect, it is no surprise then that Zynga exploits this weakness by poaching EA employees, although one has to consider if it’s really “poaching” when the employees have a chance to escape their exploitative work environment Hell.
In December of 2010, Zynga decided to pick on someone their own size by ripping off SimCity with their new title, CityVille, then in August 2011, EA entered the social networking game fray with The Sims Social, an adaptation of their popular license, The Sims.
EA has come to challenge Zynga on their own turf.
Then 6 days ago, EA released SimCity Social to compete head-to-head with SimCity clone CityVille…
…and just 4 days ago Zynga releases their The Sims clone, The Ville.
(Notice how the comments in Zynga’s video are disabled while EA’s are enabled)
This is only the first barrage out in the open of this war and it will not be the last.
Who will win in the end?
Who will ultimately benefit?