Place another trouble at the doorstep of the already-troubled Zynga. It was announced Friday that Electronic Arts, on behalf of its Maxis studio, creators of The Sims, had initiated legal proceedings against Zynga.
The complaint, viewable here, alleges that Zynga’s The Ville copies the graphic approach, play mechanisms and pictographic language of The Sims Social. This is not much of a surprise in itself – Zynga’s corporate existence has been characterized by accusations of copying social games.
Its biggest success story, Farmville, has been identified as a clone of Slahkey’s FarmTown, Socialapps’ myFarm and various others. Nimblebit very publicly twitted Zynga over similarities between Dream Heights and their own Tiny Tower.
We do not need to go over the details, not least because EA has considerately listed them, in what amounts to a sustained attack on Zynga’s corporate character. However, this is the first time a publisher with the scale and resources of Electronic Arts has decided to take Zynga on.
Nothing new under the Sunville
To the layman, the similarities listed between The Sims Social and The Ville are certainly noticeable. However, mere similarity is not sufficient to demonstrate infringement. This is not, for example, comparable to the case of Runic Games vs Armored Heroes Online, a Chinese iPhone game which was accused of lifting graphical and sound assets from Runic’s Torchlight game. In that case, copyright elements – graphics and sound recordings – were at issue.
It is interesting that Serena Zhang, defending her product, suggested that both Runic and she had been influenced by Blizzard’s Diablo series, and also that Runic