Electronic Arts, the video game publisher, is suing Zynga, the social game services provider, over The Sims Social. Electronic Arts (EA) alleges that Zynga copied The Sims Social for its own The Ville, a similar game released on Facebook.
The Sims Social launched on Facebook last August, while The Ville was released recently.
The lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Zynga “copied and misappropriated the original and distinctive expressive elements” of The Sims Social when making The Ville. The suit goes on to cite The Ville as an “unmistakable copy” of The Sims Social.
“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,” Lucy Bradshaw, head of EA’s Maxis imprint, said via statement.
“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,” said Reggie Davis, Zynga’s general counsel. “It’s also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga’s CityVille game.”
According to EA’s allegations, Zynga somehow obtained “private information” about The Sims Social’s development plans after they hired three of EA’s top employees just prior to game launch.
With The Sims Social in development, Zynga hired EA’s former chief operating officer to take on a similar role in the company. This was when The Sims Social was in its roll-out phase, the lawsuit claims, and certainly had a bearing on development of The Ville. Zynga’s top marketer and a business development exec were also among those who came into the Zynga fold from EA. All three had “knowledge of The Sims Social.”
Zynga has absorbed a number of copycat allegations as of late, with a suit involving Digital Chocolate and Mafia Wars coming to mind. Zynga was also sued by The Learning Channel, makers of the original Oregon Trail video game, for their Frontierville version of Oregon Trail. Both of those cases settled without going to trial.
The case with EA is expected to do the same, although if the fight drags out it could turn into quite a brawl. EA has more than enough money to fight its case and could take it to the limit if pressed, but the onus will be on them to more ably prove the accusations.