As discussed last week on our show, Zynga's slumping performance as of late has led them to be a little bit desperate to hold on to their quickly diminishing userbase; some games have lost half of their 15 million users. They held a massively unimpressive press event to show off uninteresting games and are now grasping at straws with their new social game, The Ville. If you've played the game or even looked at the screen shots, you'd think you were playing The Sims Social, right down to some of the icons!
It didn't take Electronic Arts very long to notice the almost identical game style and design and because of that, the company has sued Zynga, citing direct copying of key features and other important aspects of the game. For Zynga, the company has faced several lawsuits lately that they've just let slide and not paid much attention to, however I think they will make an exception for EA. The stature of the opponent combined with their dismal sales numbers should make for an interesting case in court.
EA says that when The Ville's avatars dance around, talk to one another and do other Sim-y things that they look identical to EA's star social game. EA also said that The Ville's eight levels of player types, from villain to athlete, are just like the scoundrel to jock set in The Sims, except different names. Zynga is also being sued for the color scheme it has used for selecting the player's skin tone. Even the naming of the game is a direct copy: single out the distinctive word from your game series. SimCity, SimTower, SimFarm, etc became The Sims; FarmVille, CityVille and CastleVille became The Ville.
They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think a cease-and-desist is a fitting return gesture, no?