EA Sues Zynga Over Facebook Game That Also Has Simulated People Doing Everyday Things

There’s a fight brewing in social media gaming land: Electronic Arts is steamed at Zynga over its new “The Ville” game, which EA claims is a total ripoff of “The Sims Social,” both games that are played on Facebook. EA is suing, claiming The Ville is an “unmistakable” copy of The Sims Social. Both do have characters that are you know, people, who do things like build homes and put fancy virtual stuff in them.

USA Today says the complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in California has EA alleging that The Ville needs to back up off The Sims Social territory.

EA’s general manager for the creators of The Sims Social says:

“The similarities go well beyond any superficial resemblance. 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.”

Zynga is far from ready to back down from its virtual people doing virtual things, replying in a statement from its general counsel that EA’s claims are poppycock. Zynga’s general counsel responded with:

“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.”

Sims Social hit Facebook last August, whereas The Ville is new to the scene as of June. Both allow players to create avatars and share their doings with friends. If you’ve played one or both, go ahead and weigh in via the comments.

EA sues Zynga for copyright infringement [USA Today]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Rexy does not like the new system says:

    Well, as I just deleted my Facebook account, I can’t test this, but EA is very over-zealous.

    • wutname1 says:

      Take a look at the complaint your self there are ALOT of very good examples of how Zynga copied the Sims not to mention almost every other game Zynga has http://www.scribd.com/doc/101954002/EA-v-Zynga-Complaint-Final

      • BigDragon says:

        Honestly, the complaint is ridiculous. The two games are in the same genre. They’re supposed to look and feel similar. What EA is doing is akin to complaining that Cities XL has streets that look similar to the streets in Sim City 4 or that the buildings have similar shapes. It’s similar to complaining that Modern Warfare 3 has some of the same weapons and similar textures as Battlefield 3. The Ville and Sims Social are in the same genre and feature the same human behavior simulation. It would be surprising if they weren’t similar. Same goes for Tiny Tower, Dream Heights, and Sim Tower — all similar!

        It looks to me like The Ville has cleaner textures, easier to identify characters, better menus, and superior social interaction to Sims Social. It looks to me like Zynga has innovated on EA’s idea and taken it a step further. That’s not something to be shunned. It’s something to be embraced because it fosters competition. “Anything you can do I can do better; I can do anything better than you.” Let the two companies compete in the genre. I’m not willing to side with EA and grant them exclusive control over the human living simulation genre which is what they want. They are attacking a competitor for threatening their cash cow, The Sims, with a superior product.

        • rtb61 says:

          Why does this all feel like rats fighting it out for the highest places left on a sinking ship. The whole Facebook games market is going to be taking a hit from dropping advertising revenues, saturation and the solid impression that Facebook has actually passed it’s peak.
          Like all social fads, the shine is fading for Facebook.

      • ablestmage says:

        The copyright site itself says that games aren’t protected in the ways that EA is suing for — “Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form.” — http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

        This is why the makers of Angry Birds can’t be sued by the makers of Crush The Castle , which is a flash game of near-identical concept, published ~6 months before Angry Birds.

        • esc27 says:

          Did you look at the scribd.com link? This isn’t Angry Birds vs. Crush the castle, this angry birds vs a game with slightly different looking birds, hogs instead of pigs, and a catapult instead of a slingshot.

  2. Captain Spock says:

    Did anyone else read “Doings” as “Dongs”

  3. Hi_Hello says:


  4. lonestarbl says:

    In other news… EA Sports is suing every other developer that has ever created, drafted or thought about a sports game

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    It’s sad that companies have evolved into defending their product with good customer service and quality workmanship with lawsuits trying to defend the basic building blocks of their ideas.

    • dolemite says:

      See: Apple and “we created rectangles”.

    • Taija says:

      That’s not the case with this one.

      It’s not ideas that were copied, it’s things like colors, mechanics, animations, objects and sounds. Even the skin tone choices were identical.

      Sure, a lawsuit is pretty unnecessary, but you can’t deny that it’s copying. Zynga has been doing the same thing with all their games. I guess it’s easier than actually designing.

  6. oldtaku says:

    Since Zynga’s stolen every game they’ve made, this is fairly credible. Especially if you see screenshots and animations of the two games side by side.

    The court filing even quotes Zynga’s ‘Steal someone else’s game. Change its name. Then crosspromote.’ policy.

    Not that I like EA, but they’re the first one Zynga’s ripped off with the muscle to smack them around like they deserve.

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      Same thing I was thinking – almost every game they make is aclearly a copy of another company’s game. I’m surprised they haven’t made Unhappy Emus yet.

    • Applekid says:

      Yup, they finally picked a victim with deep enough pockets to actually bring suit.

      That said, both Zynga and EA are dickheads, so, is there any way both can lose? Please?

    • BigDragon says:

      Is it theft or is it innovation? I have a hard time dumping on Zynga for doing the simulated people genre better than EA. I don’t see anyone running around complaining that Blacklight Retribution is a ripoff of FEAR or that Battlefield rips off Call of Duty. EA’s biggest money maker is The Sims franchise. I see EA’s move as anti-competitive aggressive posturing as they try to assert ownership over an entire genre just like they’ve done with NFL games.

      Zynga hasn’t copied verbatim anything with their The Ville (similar to Sims Social) game nor has EA copied anything verbatim with their SimCity Social (similar to CityVille) game. They’ve taken the ideas of other developers and put their own spin on them. It’s called innovation. Everyone does this to some extent. It creates a great competitive world that’s good for progress. I’d hate to live in a world where people can’t feel free to improve on the ideas of others. We’d have no more movies, TV shows, artwork, video games, cars, houses, phones, tablets, or anything else because everyone could make a claim that some particular object copies off another.

      • MrMongerty says:

        It is innovation in the same way that Transmorphers is an innovation of Transformers.

      • MutantMonkey says:

        Have you played Blacklight, Fear, BF3 and Call of Duty? I only ask because Blacklight is about as close to Fear as Duke Nukem and BF3 is a battlefield war game while CoD is an arcadey run and gun shooter.

        SimSocial and CityVille are damn near reskins of each other.

      • Taija says:

        Those aren’t good comparisons.

        Did you actually read into this thing and check pictures etc.? Because it’s not the idea that’s the same, it’s animations, colors, sounds, angles… they even have the exact same skin color choices (which could not be a coincidence).


    • MonkeyMonk says:

      This. Isn’t this what Zynga does for pretty much EVERY game? Isn’t their whole business model taking established games and tweaking them into their own games?

      Words with Friends —> Scrabble
      Draw Something —> Pictionary
      Mafia Wars —> Mob Wars

      Have they every had a single original game concept?

      • Bearcat44 says:

        So that’s the game (Words with Friends) that my sister and oldest niece are playing all the time on their phones.

        I just call it ‘Fake Scrabble.’

  7. dush says:

    Zynga, I’m pretty sure SimCity has been around longer than CityVille.

  8. ThinkingBrian says:

    Actually I have checked out both Zynga’s “The Ville” and EA’s “SimCity Social” and they are pretty close to each other. Its all the same thing. Of course what really got me is Zynga’s statement where they say “It’s also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga’s CityVille game.”

    Zynga, are you kidding me, EA built the game SimCity (one of the best game series I’ve ever played and waiting for the next installment) over a decade ago and if anything, CityVille is a copy of SimCity. EA should sue you over that instead. EA has a much better case than Apple does against Samsung.

    • LogicalOne says:

      To be a little more precise: Maxis developed SimCity. EA later acquired Maxis.

    • BigDragon says:

      EA built SimCity? No, EA ran SimCity into the ground. Maxis built SimCity back when they were free of EA control. EA simply allowed them to finish SimCity 4, forced an expansion to be bolted onto the game, and then destroyed the franchise with SimCity Societies.

  9. BigDragon says:

    I’m an “uninitiated observer” and I can tell the difference. Zynga appears to have tried to innovate with their game. EA doesn’t understand what that word means. It looks to me that EA is trying to assert some sort of copyright on human movement and behavior.

  10. Aliciaz777 says:

    I can’t stand Zynga or EA but if I had to choose one of them, I’d go with EA. So yea, I’m happy Zynga is getting sued. I hope the company tanks soon so all of their games become obsolete and I stop getting all of that stupid and annoying spam crap from people on Facebook. I don’t play Facebook games, ever. I had to spend over an hour a few months ago blocking a ton of Facebook games from posting on my wall and even after I posted on my news feed asking people to PLEASE stop posting game spam on my wall, THEY STILL DO IT! I’m at the point where I’m about to delete my Facebook account.

    • Kristoffer says:

      Why don’t you just go under your privacy settings and choose the ‘turn off apps’ option instead of blocking each post? I think that stops all games posts from coming to you period.

  11. Blueskylaw says:

    “people, who do things like build homes and put fancy virtual stuff in them”

    Why would you want to pay to do something like this on a computer? Why don’t you go and actually watch a new house being built; it’s free and you might actually learn some useful things doing it.

    • Kestris says:

      Because I can’t actually build the house in real life, so I build them in the Sims3 instead. Something I rather enjoy in my free time.

      and no, I don’t play SimCity Social and have no plans to play any Zynga games, or any other Facebook games.

  12. Mark says:

    I always wondered how evil greedy people got control. Easy to say I just answered my own question. You figure, in an ideal world, EA would see Cityville and say you know what, “Lets make our game better than theirs,” and love competition. Isn’t that what we’re told from birth till college?

    Maybe those Harvard business grads get told the opposite. Capitalism only works if the poor exists.

  13. ILoveBacon says:

    AAs much as I hate EA, I hate Zynga even more. I want nothing more than to see Zynga crushed into the ground, burned beyond recognition, and to salt the earth they once stood upon.

  14. GilesCh00x says:

    I actually play both. I’m one of those people that clogs up your wall with game requests. Anyway, The Ville is soo a rip-off of Sims Social. Sims Social is more fun but the Ville works better.

  15. kent909 says:

    Dear Consumerist,

    Do we really need another reason to not shop at Wal-Mart.

  16. Jawaka says:

    I never thought that I’d say this but I hope EA wins this.

    This Zynga company is like the Hot Topic of video games, just stealing the designs that they like and think that they can sell. Someone needs to stomp on both companies.

  17. PupJet says:

    I’ve played both of them. My verdict is:

    They both suck and are boring. I think Zynga and EA should get along because they’re both money hungry morons.

    Case Dismissed

  18. NoWhammies10 says:

    Zynga copying games? THERE’S something you don’t see every day. (!)

  19. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Erm, while I can’t say I have any idea what Zynga’s game looks like, I did play the living sh1t out of Sims 2 for a long time, and I would venture to say this:

    The Sims franchise is based of modeling people, actions, locations, mannerisms, etc. off of real life. It is, essentially, a real-life simulator.

    So…I’m not sure how picky you can get about modeling real life. If you say something like “look, when this person’s character is sad it puts it’s hands on it’s face and sobs! They copying us!” I’d be inclined to say “no, you’ve both copied real life, because that’s what someone does when their sad.”

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      …gah, my kingdom for an edit button. Please excuse the grammar issues that make it look like I’m only better than 98.5% of the American population, instead of 99%. In the usage of the English language, that is.

  20. xanigxginax says:

    pot, meet kettle…

  21. M3wThr33 says:

    You guys should read the document. This wasn’t a simple idea replication. Zynga LITERALLY copied the exact same RGB values for the 8 skin tones. They also took the exact same angle AND WALL HEIGHT. Menu options were the exact same, and named the exact same. The same menu colors, SOUND, CHORDS and tones were copied. Assets like refrigerators were just slightly modified art.

    This wasn’t another iteration. This was content theft.

  22. LabGnome says:

    Maybe I should not let my bias get the best of me but my gut says, ‘When in doubt, just remember EA is evil.’