A week full of bad news just got way worse for the people who make FarmVille: EA is suing them for copyright infringement.
In the lawsuit, EA says Zynga's The Ville "copied and misappropriated the original and distinctive expressive elements" of their game The Sims Social.
This isn't the first time someone has accused the FarmVille maker of stealing ideas. Earlier this year, the makers of Tiny Tower claimed Zynga's Dream Heights ripped their game off. Last May, the people who own the copyright to Oregon Trail sued Zynga for making a trailer that copped many of their ideas in a "deliberate theft of goodwill."
Zynga is also dealing with a class-action lawsuit that says its executives knew that the company's stock would tank when they sold $500 million in stock this April.
Here's a statement sent out by EA's Lucy Bradshaw:
As outlined in our complaint, when The Ville was introduced in June 2012, the infringement of The Sims Social was unmistakable to those of us at Maxis as well as to players and the industry at large. 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. Scores of media and bloggers commented on the blatant mimicry.
This is a case of principle. Maxis isn't the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it. Infringing a developer's copyright is not an acceptable practice in game development. By calling Zynga out on this illegal practice, we hope to have a secondary effect of protecting the rights of other creative studios who don't have the resources to protect themselves.
Today, we hope to be taking a stand that helps the industry protect the value of original creative works and those that work tirelessly to create them.
I've reached out to Zynga for comment and will update should they respond.
Update: We got the following statement from Zynga:
We are committed to creating the most fun, innovative, social and engaging games in every major genre that our players enjoy. The Ville is the newest game in our ‘ville' franchise – it builds on every major innovation from our existing invest-and-express games dating back to YoVille and continuing through CityVille and CastleVille, and introduces a number of new social features and game mechanics not seen in social games today. 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. Nonetheless, we plan to defend our rights to the fullest extent possible and intend to win with players.
Here's the full text from EA's lawsuit: