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Zynga Defends Tiny Tower Copycat Allegations

Jonathan Lester
Clone, Dream Heights, Mobile games, NimbleBit, Smack talk, Tiny Tower, Zynga

Zynga Defends Tiny Tower Copycat Allegations

But NimbleBit Gets Last Word, High Ground

NimbleBit were dismayed and disgusted to discover that their brave (and highly successful) Indie title Tiny Tower had been effectively cloned by casual monolith Zynga - as were many gamers. However, Zynga's CEO has defended their recently-released Dream Heights in an internal memo, stating that they prefer to be the "best" rather than the "first."

Of course, NimbleBit have a few choice words of their own. Full story below.

VentureBeat obtained a copy of an internal memo sent out from Zynga management to the rest of the company after interviewing Zynga boss Mark Pincus - which defends Dream Heights as an evolution of an idea... and an improvement on Tiny Tower.

We don't need to be first to market. We need to be the best in market.

There are genres that we're going to enter because we know our players are interested in them and because we want and need to be where players are. We evolve genres by making games free, social, accessible and highest quality.

Pincus bolstered his argument and threw down the gauntlet to NimbleBit in the interview by suggesting that tower creation is an established genre, and that Tiny Tower was by no means the first.

[NimbleBit] should be careful not to throw stones when you live in glass towers. When you pull the lens back, you saw that their tower game looked similar to five other tower games going all the way back to SimTower in the early 1990s.

Naturally, Venturebeat have countered this unbelievably crass and classless controversial challenge with a statement of their own (via Touch Arcade). And one that's impossible to disagree with due to the overt similarities in graphical style and raw gameplay.

It is a smart idea for Mark Pincus and Zynga to try and lump all games with the name Tower together as an actual genre whose games borrow from each other. Unfortunately sharing a name or setting does not a genre make. The games Pincus mentions couldn't be more different. Sim Tower is a true "sim" with macroscopic management and fine tuning of a buildings facilities. Tower Bloxx is a timing based high score game.

If you take a quick look before "pulling the lens back" as Pincus suggests, you'll find an innumerable number of details in the game that were painstakingly crafted to be identical to Tiny Tower. These are core gameplay mechanics and rules, not similar settings or themes that games in the same genre might share.

Why are there 5 different business types like Tiny Tower? Why do 5 people fit in an apartment instead of 4 or 6? Why are there VIP elevator riders that perform the same functions as Tiny Tower? Why do businesses employ exactly 3 workers and produce exactly 3 products that are stocked in exactly the same way as Tiny Tower. Even the tutorials at the beginning of the game follow the exact same steps.

All of these things are poorly hidden underneath an uninspired veneer which has become Zynga's trademark.

Advantage NimbleBit.

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