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Zynga sued by EA over SimCity Social “Similarities”

Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts pull the hammer on Zynga over SimCity social features

When it rains it pours. Indeed, when you’re having a tough time, expect more bad news. This can’t be any truer for the previous social media darling, Zynga. Zynga put social gaming on the map by dominating Facebook’s game apps. Who hasn’t heard of Farmville?

Apparently, the string of bad news hitting Zynga is continuing at a fast pace. Not only did it lose its preferential treatment on Facebook for its game apps; not only did the pace of its new releases drop and its stock price plummet; but to top it all off, Zynga has been slapped with a lawsuit.

According to video game powerhouse, EA, the social gaming pioneer allegedly copied its latest game offering, The Ville, from EA’s bestselling game The Sims Social. According to Lucy Bradshaw, the general manager of the The Sims product line developer Maxis, they’re suing Zynga based on principle. She made a point that Maxis was not the first design studio to allege that Zynga copied a particular game. However, she did say that while Maxis isn’t the first to make a copy in claim against Zynga, Maxis is the first company to actually sue Zynga for a copyright infringement.

It’s all about principle according to Bradshaw. Principle being that copyright infringement has no place and is not an acceptable practice in the development of games. EA is saying that this legal callout of Zynga is not just to send a message against this illegal practice, but to also protect the rights of the content creators and creators in general who may not have the resources to legally protect themselves.

Talk about rubbing salt in your wounds. Due to this event, Zynga’s stock has plunged to the three-dollar range and its recent fortune is the reversal of the days when it had so much buzz and hype regarding its pioneer role in social gaming. As we have mentioned in the previous article, critics and fans alike would agree that Zynga need to do something dramatic in terms of business model and how it conceptualizes its games for it to get out of the hole it’s in. The problems that Zynga is facing on a game-design level are potentially niche-killing issues that face social gaming in general. The beneficial effect is that the market is a big laboratory and if the market leader innovates, others can benefit from that innovation.

If the issues are not solved, social gaming might just shrivel up into a static niche market. Social gaming has so much going for it because it offers unprecedent opportunities in turning social interaction into game content. That’s the real promise of social gaming. A huge boom in mobile devices can only just help feed the amount of interest and the user base of a winning social gaming concept. The focus is not on the game itself but on the people, and that seems to be the key stumbling block to growth, innovation, and space.