Zynga Fights Back, Says EA Copied Games

Zynga Fights Back, Says EA Copied Games


In early August Electronic Arts filed a lawsuit against social gaming giant Zynga for its new Facebook game The Ville.

“The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable,” said Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of Maxis (the EA subsidiary that produces all Sims games).

Zynga finally responded to the claim Friday, by accusing EA of copying Activision’s Little Computer People when it created The Sims to begin with. It also accused EA of copying Zynga.

“Zynga’s YoVille, released in 2008, three years before The Sims Social, was the first commercially viable life simulation game on Facebook, “ Zynga says in court papers filed Friday. “YoVille allowed players to: customize a virtual avatar by selecting its skin color, facial features, hair color, hair style, and clothing; decorate and arrange furniture within a virtual home; work a virtual job; and socialize with other players by visiting them and sending them virtual gifts. “

Zynga adds, “In other words, it was Activision — not EA — that first developed the ideas found in The Sims Social, and it was Zynga — not EA — that first brought the concept to Facebook.”

In a CNN interview in 2000, Sim’s creator Will Wright acknowledged playing Little Computer People, and receiving “valuable feedback” on the game from its creator Rich Gold.

Zynga claims that EA actualy copied it when it started making social games for Facebook, noting that EA’s SimCity Social was launched a year and a half after Zynga’s CityVille.

“A side-by-side comparison of Zynga’s CityVille and EA’s SimCity Social shows that EA draws heavily on elements found in Zynga’s CityVille game. In fact, in promoting its game, EA explicitly played on Zynga’s popular CityVille: ‘More City, Less Ville.’”

EA’s lawsuit against Zynga regarding The Ville isn’t the first time the company has been accused of copying games. The company often releases games that are exceptionally similar to other popular games on the market. FarmVille, for instance, was released after a similar game, Farm Town, took Facebook by storm.

The company acknowledged that tradition in Friday’s court filing.

“Zynga did not achieve its success in the social gaming sphere by launching games that users don’t want to play. It achieved its success by innovating in popular genres, a tradition it has continued with The Ville.”

What do you think? Is EA or Zynga in the right? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Watch EA's E3 Press Conference Live

Watch EA’s E3 Press Conference Live

Live video for mobile from Ustream

LOS ANGELES –- Electronic Arts is taking the stage at 1 p.m. PT/ 4 p.m. ET to show off its newest games for the season.

At an event that promises to be full of everything from Battlefield 4 to Plants vs. Zombies, there’s bound to be a game in sight for everyone’s tastes.

Mashable’s gaming reporter Chelsea Stark and tech reporter Emily Price are on the scene at EA’s big event and will report back on all the big announcements.

Want to see all the action for yourself? Check out a live stream of the event above. It’s the next best thing to being there.

What are you most excited to see from EA? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image via Getty Images/Michal Czerwonka/Stringer

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/10/ea-press-conference-e3-2013/

E3 2014: Expect Lots of Promising Software

E3 2014: Expect Lots of Promising Software


Frank Cire, center, plays the Need for Speed racing video game at the EA booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Wednesday, June 12, 2013.

With the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 only about eight months into their life cycles, this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo will undoubtedly focus on software.

First- and third-party publishers are slowly eeking out games for those fledgling consoles, and we’ll be learning more about some of their more promising offerings.

So what might the big players have planned for E3 2014? Let’s discuss.

xbox logo

Fans celebrate the launch of Xbox One at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square on Thursday, November 21, 2013.

Image: Jason DeCrow/Invision for Microsoft/Associated Press


At last year’s E3, Microsoft had runway to talk about games after announcing the Xbox One just a few weeks earlier. This year, the company has already made a sharp pivot on hardware by eliminating the Kinect from Xbox One bundles. This has turned the Xbox One from the all-in-one media package that could be controlled by your voice into something else, and we can hopefully learn about Microsoft’s new strategy going forward in its June 9 press conference.

The removal of Kinect means Microsoft may be backing away from using gesture control and voice commands; it wouldn’t want to waste resources to develop something only a segment of the Xbox One population could play. That means we could see a lot more traditional-looking game experiences this year.

Last year, we saw many games teased at E3 that haven’t even hit gamers’ hands yet, including Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break and Halo 5. It’s likely we’ll learn about these games’ progress, but all but assured that Microsoft will roll out some trailers for new titles as well — if you look at Twitch’s E3 streaming schedule, three unannounced Microsoft titles are on that list.

We also can expect to learn a little about Microsoft’s TV efforts, which the company teased in April. With a new Halo game on the horizon, we might learn more about the two Halo projects for the screen in the works. Also speculated to be announced is a Halo box set of previous games redone to run on the Xbox One.

Sony E3 booth

Show attendees play video games on the new Sony PlayStation 4 at the Sony booth during the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

Image: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press


With the PlayStation 4 leading the Xbox One in next-gen console sales, Sony’s press conference might show a little bit of bravado. Last year the company spent time positioning the PlayStation 4 as the antithesis of the Xbox One, something that was “for gamers.” That marketing play worked out for the company in the end, and it will be interesting to see if continues into this E3 press conference.

Sony still has many unfinished pieces of technology to accompany the PlayStation 4. The first is PlayStation Now, the streaming service mentioned over a year ago that will allow older games to stream on the PS4. The other is Project Morpheus, Sony’s virtual reality headset introduced in March.

It also has plenty of games floating in the ether from press conferences past: we still haven’t seen much of the next Uncharted game, a PlayStation 4 project from LittleBigPlanet creators Media Molecule, Capcom’s Deep Down, and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. Hopefully Sony will give us a clearly view of the status of these big games.

It’s also undoubted that Sony will continue stumping for indie games as part of E3 agenda. The company has been the friendliest to indie game creators, and these smaller, creative games have already been making a splash on the PS4. It’s also likely part of the company’s strategy as the previously mentioned big-budget games may not be arriving until 2015, and Sony needs content to fill the time.

nintendo e3

Members of the media watch a presentation from a riser at the Nintendo Wii U software showcase during the E3 game show in Los Angeles, Tuesday, June 11, 2013.

Image: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press


Nintendo has everything to prove this E3. It’s Wii U is now losing the company a lot of money. Is the company going to surprise us with a wild new strategy this E3 that can get it back in the black?

We can expect to see some top-notch games from Nintendo, that’s for sure. The new Super Smash Brothers should be playable, for both the Wii U an the 3DS, and there might big announcement for an entry in a beloved franchise, like The Legend of Zelda or Metroid. But without something really creative, Nintendo won’t draw third-party publishers back to the Wii U, which is significantly underpowered compared to the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4.

Still, Nintendo has some tricks up its sleeve. During a presentation to investors, President Satoru Iwata gave some details of new NFC-powered figurines — akin to Skylanders toys — that the company was working on for Wii U and the handheld 3DS. It also is going to roll out an app for Mario Kart 8, and while connected games might seem to be getting a little passe, at least the company is starting to consider mobile.

ubisoft booth e3

A general view of atmosphere at the Ubisoft booth on Day 1 of E3, Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 in Los Angeles.

Image: Alexandra Wyman/Invision for Ubisoft//Associated Press

The Big Publishers

Two of the biggest publishers, EA and Ubisoft, are now fully integrated into the press conference junket on Monday, which means we should see big announcements from both.

Electronic Arts obtained the license for all the Star Wars games last year, and we’ve only seen the slightest tease for one of its potential projects: a new Star Wars Battlefront. But hopefully we’ll get to see more from developer Visceral, known for Dead Space, who is reportedly working on a narrative-driven Star Wars game.

EA also is launching The Sims 4 later this year, after what seemed like hundreds of expansions to the last game. The popular PC franchise should be getting the full E3 treatment this year.

Ubisoft let one of its big E3 surprises out early when it announced Far Cry 4, but between that and two upcoming Assassin’s Creed titles, the company should be plenty busy this year. The Twitch broadcast schedule also confirms at least one unannounced title from Ubisoft, so we’ll hopefully learn more on June 9.

Activision will have its two annual franchises front and center at E3: Skylanders Trap Team and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It will also give us a lot more to chew on for Bungie’s open-world Destiny.

After Monday’s Mortal Kombat X announcement, we know a lot more about Warner Bros. Interactive’s E3 plans. The company should also be showing off next-gen Batman: Arkham Knight, though as of Tuesday, it had been majorly delayed.

This is hardly an exhaustive list, as hundreds of exhibitors will pack the hallways of the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 10 to 12. We expect to see some break out hits and total surprises, so stay tuned to Mashable.

Good News Mac Gamers: New SimCity Will Support OS X

Good News Mac Gamers: New SimCity Will Support OS X


Electronic Arts announced Tuesday that their newest entry to the SimCity franchise would be available on Macs in February, 2013.

This also means EA’s digital download service, Origin, will also be coming to Macs. Origin is EA’s version of Steam and acts as a way for gamers to purchase games, link with gamer profiles on other services (such as Xbox Live or PlayStation Network) and chat with other gamers.

“Whether you owned a Macintosh or a DOS PC, we all have memories of laying down zones and reticulating splines from our youth,” said Lucy Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA’s Maxis Label, in a press release sent out Tuesday. “To the millions of SimCity fans out there, we’ve been listening and can proudly say that your calls have been answered. SimCity has a long legacy on the Mac and the team at Maxis is ensuring that it will be the deepest, richest and most accessible SimCity game yet.”

The announcement was made as part of Gamescom, a four-day gaming convention in Cologne, Germany that starts Wednesday. EA also said that Gamescom will be the first hands-on opportunity for SimCity.

EA also announced sign-ups for the closed beta of SimCity had begun. Players can go to the SimCity website to sign up. The beta is just for PC users, at least for now.

SimCity arrival to PC was announced earlier this year. The online-only game will put players and their friends in the same world, and their cities will impact each other as they grow.

Are you excited about the new SimCity for Mac? Let us know in the comments.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/08/14/simcity-origin-mac/

The Sims Strike Back! EA Sues Zynga Over Similarities in 'The Ville'

The Sims Strike Back! EA Sues Zynga Over Similarities in ‘The Ville’


In a move that surprised few gamers who have played both The Sims Social and The Ville, Electronic Arts sued Zynga Friday — charging that the latter was a blatant copy of the former.

EA didn’t mince words, either. “The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable,” said Lucy Bradshaw, General Manager of Maxis (the EA subsidiary that produces all Sims games). “Zynga’s design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions have been directly lifted from The Sims Social … scores of media and bloggers have commented on the blatant mimicry.” (Indeed, we have.)

We’ve heard from sources inside Zynga that the mimicry was obvious to all there when The Ville was launched, too, and led to something of a crisis of confidence within the company. Still, Zynga put its game face on.

“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,” said Zynga general counsel Reggie Davis in a statement. And for an audacious encore, he added: “It’s also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga’s CityVille game.”

Cue howls of laughter from anyone with basic knowledge of gaming history. Sim City is one of the oldest franchises in the world of digital games. The original, by industry legend Will Wright, dates back to 1989 — when Zynga CEO Mark Pincus was just entering business school.

Indeed, it’s going to be a breeze for EA’s lawyers to show a longstanding pattern of game-copying behavior on Zynga’s part. Several former Zynga employees have stated in the past that the company’s breakout hit — FarmVille — was a blatant copy of a game called Farm Town. Mafia Wars is Mob Wars, Ruby Blast is Bejeweled, Pioneer Trail is Oregon Trail … and the list goes on. (Check the similarities out in our gallery below.)

It’s also not hard to see why EA made this move now. Zynga is under siege: its share price is plummeting; the company has no clear road map; it’s also been hit by another lawsuit charging senior management with insider trading, for dumping their stock right before a poor earnings report.

EA is hardly the darling of gamers, either. The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based giant is often criticized for increasingly bloated games, expensive expansions, multiplayer server shut-downs and poor customer service.

Here, at least, it gets to look like the hero.

As Bradshaw said: “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 … 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.”

What do you make of this lawsuit? Give us your take in the comments.