Publisher Electronic Arts recently introduced The Sims IP to Facebook. The social game, dubbed The Sims Social, brings all the best bits of the franchise for people to muck about with over the Internet’s biggest social network.
There’s this other company you might have heard of called Zynga. Zynga also makes social games for Facebook. Zynga also has a knack for shamelessly ripping off other companies’ products instead of developing their own stuff. This has resulted in them becoming somewhat unpopular with many people. Once again Zynga is sticking to their playbook by blatantly cloning EA’s The Sims Social. Zynga’s version is called The Ville, and it looks and plays nearly identically.
This has resulted in EA taking Zynga to court for copyright infringement. It’s about time somebody did, because Zynga has gotten away with this sort of shoddy business practice for far too long; see Nimblet’s Tiny Tower for another recent example.
“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,” said Lucy Bradshaw in a statement by Maxis. “This is a case of principle,” the statement continued, “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.”
Website Joystiq has taken the time to comb through the lengthy court filing and has put together a list of the more blatant rip-offs. My particular favourite is how Zynga offers the exact eight skin tones for character customisation – even the RGB colour values are identical to those in The Sims Social. What are the odds of happening to pick the same eight colours out of a possible 16 million? Remarkable!
Personally, I hope EA tears Zynga a new one for doing this – I love the way they’re throwing their financial weight behind this lawsuit. The scenario also reminds me of the ending of Jurassic Park, when the t-rex fights against the raptors in the main building’s entrance hall. Both dinosaurs were the bad guys, but you can admit that deep down you were cheering for the t-rex.