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Zynga Exec Clarifies "We Copy Games" Comment

| 11 Mar 2013 16:25
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Zynga New York General Manager Dan Porter says his statement that Zynga copies games was "misrepresented" by journalists after a sexy headline.

Dan Porter, formerly the CEO of Draw Something studio OMGPOP and now the GM at Zynga New York, set off a kerfuffle last week when he said at panel discussion, "Zynga is often accused of copying games, which is mostly true." Zynga, of course, has run into legal trouble in the past for its idea-borrowin' ways - recently settled a settled a dispute with EA over The Ville, which EA claimed lifted "design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions" directly from The Sims Social - but hearing a Zynga executive so readily acknowledge it was unusual, to say the least.

But in a Zynga blog post, Porter wrote that widespread reporting of the statement, which predictably led to yet more backlash against Zynga, misrepresented his meaning. "What I actually said was that all games are derived from other games, that this has been happening long before Zynga, and that the debate about originality in games is vastly overblown and misses the mark," he wrote. "Before making Draw Something we ran OMGPOP for four years and made lots of games that were inspired by games we loved and we emulated the mechanics from games with great UI. This is no great revelation."

His point, he explained, is that Zynga's "true genius" is understanding how to run games as a service. "So when I spoke to this group, I told them what I truly believe: the debate over copying games is a distraction if you are trying to figure out the future of social games; what matters is the ability to run those games as a service," he continued. "But I also know that is a nuanced point and isn't quite as sexy a headline. I should know better. Lesson learned."

As easy as it is to hate on Zynga, it's not an unfair perspective. Despite its downward spiral, Zynga's success demonstrates that for a large portion of the gaming audience, creative concepts take a back seat to refinement, execution and support. "Games as service" is quickly becoming mainstream, and major players who don't want to miss that bus have an obligation to figure out how to get on it.

Source: Zynga Blog

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