Last month EA filed a lawsuit against Zynga, alleging that the company plagiarized and repurposed several aspects of Sims Social in their similar game The Ville. Not until today has Zynga responded, and as these matters tend to go, they’re denying the allegations and bringing forth a few of their own.
The core of Zynga’s rebuttal is that any similarities between The Ville and Sims Social are inherent to the life sim genre:
“Fifteen years before EA released its first life simulation console game, The Sims, Activision released Little Computer People. It was followed by Tenshitachi no gogo, Girls Garden, and others, all released years before The Sims. Will Wright, creator of The Sims, acknowledged that he had played Little Computer People and been influenced by it,” said Zynga in a court filing. It’s a fairly common response to an accusation of plagiarism, and there’s already been an expressed concern over whether EA acted a bit overzealous in their initial claims.
Zynga also went on to discuss what they felt was EA’s true reasoning behind the lawsuit: presumed employee theft. They claimed EA CEO John Riccitiello at one time wanted to implement a no-hire agreement with Zynga, preventing the company from hiring – or, as EA likely view it, stealing – EA employees. That’s not a particularly easy statement to prove or disprove with the available information, but something tells me even an infinite amount of relevant data wouldn’t cause both companies to agree on this point.
Creating a stark juxtaposition against the almost two-month-long silence between EA's initial lawsuit and now, EA has already responded to Zynga’s rebuttal:
“This is a predictable subterfuge aimed at diverting attention from Zynga's persistent plagiarism of other artists and studios. Zynga would be better served trying to hold onto the shrinking number of employees they've got, rather than suing to acquire more. “
Things are about to get nasty.