EA has filed a lawsuit against casual game powerhouse Zynga, claiming its Facebook game The Ville is a blatant ripoff of last year's The Sims Social.
The complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on 3rd August 2012, claimed Zynga willfully and intentionally "copied and misappropriated the original and distinctive expressive elements of The Sims Social in a violation of U.S. copyright laws" with its recent Facebook game The Ville.
The complaint further noted, "The Ville was not an attempt to innovate on a game concept - it was an intentional effort to copy EA's creative work."
EA/Maxis label general manager Lucy Bradshaw explained on EA's official site, "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."
The Ville is currently the most played game on Facebook with 40.3 million players, according to AppData. The Sims Social only has 16.5 million, but last autumn it had a whopping 66 million players monthly, and 9.3 million daily. Sheesh!
"This is a case of principle," she added. "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."
Bradshaw noted that several media outlets commented on the "blatant mimicry," and she seemed optimistic about the outcome. "We are confident in our position, and that we will prevail."
Additionally, EA filed some video evidence on Youtube - shown below.
So what does Zynga have to say about all this?
Zynga general counsel Reggie Davis provided Gamasutra with 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." Burn!
"Nonetheless, we plan to defend our rights to the fullest extent possible and intend to win with players."
There you have it. It's on like Funky Kong!