EA sues, claims Zynga copied "The Sims Social"

EA goes after Zynga for "The Ville"
Zynga is alleged to have made a game that's "unmistakable" to EA's "The Sims Social"

It hasn't been a good month for Zynga – let alone a good couple months.

First, underwhelming earnings tanked Zynga's stock to record lows last week – shaving nearly 40 percent off the share price as a result of the less-than-stellar news.

Zynga investors are also suing the company, claiming that a massive dump of stock by Zynga executives and investors (months before the company's share price took a nose dive) constitutes insider trading.

To add even more ingredients into Zynga's busy legal stew, Electronic Arts is now suing Zynga, alleging that the company's "The Ville" game infringes the copyrights of EA's Facebook game, "The Sims Social."

"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," writes EA general manager Lucy Bradshaw. "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."

Not the first complaint

Allegations of closer-than-friendly similarities between Zynga's games and other mobile chart-toppers are nothing new; NimbleBit game developer Ian Marsh took to Twitter this past January to publish an infographic highlighting the similarities between the company's Tiny Tower game and Zynga's Dream Heights.

The Learning Company, as reported by Kotaku, sued Zynga in 2011 claiming that the "Oregon Trail" expansion for its Frontierville game was a, "deliberate theft of the goodwill associated with the iconic The Oregon Trail Mark."

And these claims don't go unnoticed by EA, as Bradshaw explains:

"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," she writes. "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."

Zynga fires back

According to Zynga general counsel Reggie Davis, Zynga plans to fight EA's claims – which the company not only disagrees with, but tosses right back against EA.

"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 Davis in a statement. "It's also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga's CityVille game."