"You Have Our Shield"
EA believes that their ongoing lawsuit against Zynga over alleged copyright infringment represents the industry taking a stand against copycats once and for all, suggesting that they're one of the few publishers with the clout and resources to succeed.
The suit claims that Zynga's Facebook game The Ville is a shameless copy of The Sims Social, with EA/Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw stating that "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."
EA COO Peter Moore told Eurogamer that they noticed multiple incidents of alleged copyright infringement (not limited to the Tiny Tower/Dream Heights debacle), but that smaller copyright holders don't have the resources to successfully counter the social juggernaut. Which is where EA's coffers and legal team comes in.
"When we looked at TheVille we felt somewhat affronted by what we saw as copyright infringement," he explained. "We also feel from an industry perspective that a number of these things have happened before related to Zynga, but there's never been a company that has the wherewithal and the resources to take it to the next level. We do."
"So, we're defending our Maxis studio, and we're standing up for the industry. The roots of what we do as an industry is creative, from the minds of people who sit there and build storylines and characters and mesh it all together and work hard to do it. You take years to do that. And when you see somebody, quite frankly, take months replicating what you've done, you're upset. We were upset. We were upset for Maxis."
"And we've seen enough of it from an industry perspective, with smaller publishers and developers who also put their hands up and said, this is not right, but I don't know what to do about it. We do."
Tiny Tower developers NimbleBit seem to agree, tweeting "you have my sword" at EA when the news broke (and receiving "you have our shield" from EA in response). "Privately the industry has sent us nice messages of support," Moore continued. "We're a creative industry, and your tools should be your mind and the digital tools to create the characters. It shouldn't be a photocopier, and that's what we saw there."
Of course, EA wouldn't have lifted a finger if one of their own properties wasn't involved, but it's nice to see them taking an active role. Either way, it's bound to get them some good PR, which is in (understandably) short supply for the oft-maligned publisher.
Zynga, for their part, categorically deny the allegations and pledge to defend them. We'll see how it plays out.