The Beat

LUCY BRADSHAW

LUCY BRADSHAW

General Manager, Maxis Label

POSTED BY Lucy Bradshaw ON Aug 3, 2012

EA/Maxis Sue Zynga for Copyright Infringement

Today, on behalf of Maxis, EA filed a lawsuit against Zynga over their game, The Ville.  I thought it would be useful to draft a post to explain the substance and background of this decision.

The core legal issue is our belief that Zynga infringed copyrights to our game, The Sims Social.  In legal terms, our claim is that Zynga copied the original and distinctive expressive elements of The Sims Social in a clear violation of the U.S. copyright laws.   

The legal reasons are solid.  But for creative teams who feel that their hard work and imaginations have been ripped off, there’s obviously an emotional element too.

When we launched The Sims Social in August 2011, Maxis brought the distinctive universe of our world-renowned franchise, The Sims, to Facebook.  We created a game that allowed players to create Sims that can interact with the Sims of their Facebook friends.  It was an instant hit, gaining tens of millions of users, many of whom continue to play the game after nearly a year since launch. 

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.

I’m certain there will be a response.  Some will say The Ville simply iterates; some will tell us to get over it and move on.  We are confident in our position, and that we will prevail.  

But even if we do not, we will have made a point.

As a longstanding game developer, I know what it feels like to pour your heart and soul into creating something unique and special for your fans to enjoy.  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.

Comments (24)

  1. +7 0
    You have my sword...
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  2. +6 0
    And my axe!
    Aug 3, 2012
    1 Reply
    1. 0 0
      and my bow! xD I replied to your so it fit in with the rest xD
      Aug 3, 2012
      0 Replies
  3. Comment Flagged +6 0
    And my laser rifle!
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  4. +4 -1
    While I (generally) dislike the way EA has been doing business in recent years, such as killing off well-loved studios and emasculating franchises, at least you guys aren't a company whose entire product line relies on stealing the ideas of your competitors, changing them just enough to not be automatically infringing, and then marketing said stolen product in a predatory and manipulative way. So good on you, EA. For once.
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  5. +3 -1
    I love Maxis and respect EA for all the games they bring us. Some of your practices of the years have sometimes been questionable. But this, THIS I can get behind. I seriously hope you set a precedent with this, Lucy, so that other developers can profit from their works without worrying that Pincus & gang will steal their creative efforts. Good luck and godspeed!
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  6. +1 0
    i knew there was a reason i didn't like zynga. not only do they copy other companies' games but they do a crappy job of the technical quality!
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  7. +2 -1
    Yes this time attack them with full force. Really those people do nothing original. Zynga needs to go down,to me this one time i will stand on EA side.
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  8. +1 -5
    EA is not saint... They copied CityVille just like Zynga copied The Sims Social. ;)
    Aug 3, 2012
    1 Reply
    1. 0 0
      They didn't copy city-vile. They saw city-vile and thought, "Hey, let's make another Sim-city game that can be played with Facebook!" And they did just that. I like that game. DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SIMS!!!!!!
      Aug 13, 2012
      0 Replies
  9. +1 -2
    Those who assume that SimCity Social is a copy of Cityville, needs to actually play both games. *cough* SimCity 1989.
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  10. +1 0
    Godspeed, EA.
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  11. 0 0
    I don't think this is the first EA game Zynga has cloned. A few years ago Zynga had a game out called Rollercoaster Kingdom, a cut down clone of the EA game for the Amiga, 'Theme Park'. The cloning was right down to the graphics and the park visitors arriving by bus Zynga may have licensed the game from EA but given its plagarism of other games I think that highly unlikely. Foogle for the game and see for yourself
    Aug 3, 2012
    0 Replies
  12. 0 0
    EA does something that doesn't offend me? WOW! On a more serious note, I hope you succeed, because what they are doing is unforgivable. It's just hard to understand, since this seems like something you would do if your company had the chance. Oh well. The lesser of the two evils in this case I guess. I hope you make more decisions like this, for the benefit of the gaming community; opposed to your usual behavior of simplifying games and dismemberment of creative and talented team members.
    Aug 4, 2012
    0 Replies
  13. 0 0
    Those of us who have suffered through Zynga's rise and fall are encouraged to finally see a competitor who has been ripped off file suit. That is the only language, finally, that Zynga understands. It has become a bloated company that needs to be cut down to size. I hope you can do it.
    Aug 5, 2012
    0 Replies
  14. +2 0
    Lucy, I don't know if you'll read these comments or not, but I hope you do, because if you're going to take Zynga to court over this, you may want to look into an app for the iOS platform called DESIGN THIS HOME by APP MINIS LLC. It's also a carbon copy of the Sims game you guys have made. I just thought you guys should know.
    Aug 6, 2012
    0 Replies
  15. 0 0
    Many (Like myself...) consider EA to be scum of the gaming industry for multiple reasons (I.E the Bloated crappy Origin client and it's overpriced games!) and rarely support them in anything. But this EA is excellent news, I really hope you pull it off, not for your own financial sakes (Which is what it all comes down too!), but for other companies too! Companies that make great games but have them fall into obscurity because of other companies like Zynga who copy and squash their competitors.
    Aug 6, 2012
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  16. +2 0
    EA. Zynga are terrible developers, and clearly have benefit from Maxis creation of the City Management and Lifestyle Simulation genre. But please stop being evil. You can't copyright a genre, and as far as I know, haven't patented any of the game mechanics used (FYI software patents are evil too). I remember when FPS games were called "Doom Clones", but do you really want a world where iD is the only compan that can make FPS's (I suspect that would hurt your bottom line plenty).
    Aug 6, 2012
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  17. 0 0
    Having played games from both companies I feel little sympathy for EA. Wile Zynga games may be nothing more then time sinks (and be honest, those types of games are fun in their own right), their customer service is the best I've ever encountered, unlike EA, where all I get is hoops to jump through. Way to show your customer you care EA! And don't even get me started on the quality of your recent games. At least I didn't waste $$ on Zynga's games. *coughMEcough*
    Aug 6, 2012
    0 Replies
  18. +2 0
    EA is a horrible horrible company. I have purchased their games, like Crysis 2, Crysis Warhead, etc. and can't play them because of an error with THEIR registration servers. Enter the key, it says it isn't valid. Have even received another key from them. Works a few times, then it says invalid. Support will do nothing to help, telling me to go back to the vendor I purchased from for help. The vendor can't do anything about game key issues, they should know that. I will never buy another EA game.
    Aug 6, 2012
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  19. +2 0
    ♥ Soy FAN de EA ♥ Me alegro muchísimo que EA haya demandado a la copia llamada "The Ville" porque la primera vez que vi ese juego y entré para jugarlo dije que era una COPIA EXACTA del famoso juego llamado "The Sims Social". ¡Vamos EA que yo los apoyo y ustedes tienen a sus fans! Espero que tarde o temprano borren a "The Ville". Odio Zynga de ahora en adelante... :@ - Yeikel
    Aug 8, 2012
    0 Replies
  20. +1 0
    I hate Zynga, for personal reasons, I hope you guys sue them into bankruptcy!!! Go for it EA!
    Aug 9, 2012
    0 Replies