EA maintains that defending The Sims Social will help all game designers.
One of the recurring themes in “monster vs. monster” movies is that no matter which terrifying creature wins, humanity will lose. Whether it’s Alien vs. Predator or King Kong vs. Godzilla, there’s always the sense that once the big monster brawl has concluded, the victor will turn its hungry eyes back towards a battered human race who championed it only because it was their last hope. Some gamers will no doubt feel the same way about EA’s current lawsuit against Zynga. Electronic Arts states that Zynga borrowed too liberally from The Sims Social in order to create TheVille, and by taking the social gaming giant to court, EA can strike a blow for all original, serious-minded game designers.
Peter Moore, COO of EA, explains that The Sims Social came from The Sims (an earlier EA game), whereas Zynga’s TheVille copied The Sims Social‘s concept wholesale, as well as many of its mechanics and stylistic choices. “We also feel from an industry perspective that a number of these things have happened before related to Zynga, but there’s never been a company that has the wherewithal and the resources to take it to the next level,” says Moore. “We do … [We’re] defending our Maxis studio, and we’re standing up for the industry.”
Moore minces no words as he accuses Zynga of being a rather shameless copycat. “The roots of what we do as an industry is creative, from the minds of people who sit there and build storylines and characters and mesh it all together … You take years to do that. And when you see somebody … take months replicating what you’ve done, you’re upset.” While Moore realizes that EA, by virtue of its size and success, has little in common with the smaller studios who have run afoul of Zynga, he still believes that EA has a responsibility to help out its fellow creative types. “[We’ve] seen enough of it from an industry perspective, with smaller publishers and developers who also put their hands up and said, this is not right, but I don’t know what to do about it. We do.”
To be fair, the matter is still very much up for debate, both in the legal world, and in the court of public opinion. Both EA and Zynga have legions of staunch defenders and bitter enemies, and the line between inspiration and outright plagiarism in entertainment media can be a notoriously slippery thing. Worth noting, though, is an EA-directed tweet from Nimblebit, one of the first companies to call out Zynga on its purported bad behavior. “You have my sword,” promised the indie developer.
“You have our shield,” replied EA.