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The Courts Games

Zynga Sues EA For 'Anti-competitive' Practices 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the fight-fight-fight dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In early August, Electronic Arts sued Zynga for allegedly copying EA's Sims Social game. Zynga has now launched a counterattack, suing EA for 'anticompetitive and unlawful business practices, including legal threats and demands for no-hire agreements.' The company also accuses EA of copying a Zynga game called YoVille. Zynga has also demanded a jury trial to settle EA's claims."
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Zynga Sues EA For 'Anti-competitive' Practices

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  • by TheRecklessWanderer (929556) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:39PM (#41346583) Journal
    We are using you for being mad at us for copying your product. Take that good company!
    • Re:Zynga hahahahah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Saturday September 15, 2012 @02:54PM (#41347381) Journal

      You gotta give Zynga credit though, it takes some VERY large brass balls to basically say "We stole your product and now we are gonna sue you....because you won't let us steal more of your products."

      Which is why I can't see how ANYBODY can defend Zynga in this case. Is EA run by douchebags? Yes it is, and thanks to their douchebaggy ways EA is now up for sale, showing that refusing to buy from companies that treat you like shit works, even if it takes awhile.

      But with Zynga the ONLY reason you haven't heard of this before is they were stealing from the little devs that couldn't fight back. Look up any of their games, going back to the very first ones like Farmville and you'll find an indie dev that had put out the EXACT SAME GAME one to two years before, and I mean the EXACT same game, Zynga doesn't bother to change shit but the name!

      We don't let ANY other artform do this, I can't put out my own version of "Lord Of The Rings" with every character and word of dialog and simply rename it "Lord Of The Bracelets" and not get my ass sued off, I can't hire studio musicians to knock off the songs on the top 10 and simply change the title and put out my own top ten mega mix albums, so why in the fuck should Zynga be allowed to steal every damned thing, from the characters to the art style to the fricking UIs, slap a new name on it and then sell it?

      If you can't see how this is seriously bad for indies then you are blind. if Zynga gets away with this why should I buy "Plants VS Zombies" when some corp will hire a bunch of Chinese coders and I can have "Shrubs VS The Undead" next week for free on FB? Why buy Minecraft when I can have MineBuilder for free? One of the great things that has come along is the way the Internet allows small artists to compete and sell their wares no different than the big guys, but if this kind of shit isn't stopped when it comes to games they won't have a prayer, either they work for the megacorps who have enough money to sue, or everything they do will be taken from them. That is frankly a shitty choice and as much as I don't care for EA they are 100% in the right on this one and I hope they crush Zynga like the bugs that they are, go EA!

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @03:51PM (#41347687) Journal
        It's one of those situations where you wish BOTH could lose.
      • Re:Zynga hahahahah (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @04:57PM (#41348021)

        Gameplay mechanics can not be copyrighted.

      • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @05:19PM (#41348115)
        Zynga didn't steal YoVille, they bought it off someone else.
      • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @05:35PM (#41348213) Homepage

        If you can't see how this is seriously bad for indies then you are blind. if Zynga gets away with this why should I buy "Plants VS Zombies" when some corp will hire a bunch of Chinese coders and I can have "Shrubs VS The Undead" next week for free on FB? Why buy Minecraft when I can have MineBuilder for free? One of the great things that has come along is the way the Internet allows small artists to compete and sell their wares no different than the big guys, but if this kind of shit isn't stopped when it comes to games they won't have a prayer, either they work for the megacorps who have enough money to sue, or everything they do will be taken from them. That is frankly a shitty choice and as much as I don't care for EA they are 100% in the right on this one and I hope they crush Zynga like the bugs that they are, go EA!

        How much space does EA own around each game? What you are saying is very valid, but not absolute -- it is a matter of degrees. Does the hypothetical "Shrubs v. The Undead" infringe "Plants V. Zombies"? What about another lane-based tower defense game? What about non-linear path tower defense? What about free-roaming tower defense? How close were Zynga's copies, and how close is wrong? How much space does EA own around each game?

        I agree that instant and indistinguishable duplication of an entire game is harmful to our society, and I tend to think that Zynga went over the line with premeditated, malicious intent. But beware of the "steal their product" position as a generalization -- it can easily turn into overbroad regulatory monopolies, like we are seeing in the mobile device lawsuits.

        • Re:Zynga hahahahah (Score:5, Insightful)

          by vux984 (928602) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @05:59PM (#41348331)

          How close were Zynga's copies

          Pretty close to adding a mustache to the mona lisa and calling it an original work of art.

          • Re:Zynga hahahahah (Score:2, Insightful)

            by EdIII (1114411) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:37AM (#41350257)

            Is it not an original work of art?

            That's kind of a bad example because art is all about perception and some sort of statement from the artist. Would you say Andy Warhol was infringing upon Campbell's IP?

            Just what exactly makes something original? I would actually claim that the work of art you propose is original because it is striking and thought provoking. It's the Mona Lisa, but why does she have a stache? Why are there 10 pictures in a row? Why does this one have a goatee?

            In Zynga's case so much was copied, most people would put in the high 90's as a percentage, it is hard to claim any kind of originality, or even attempt at originality in their work.

            However, just how many ways can you abstract a simulated environment in such cartoonish ways? While Zynga clearly needs to get bent over by the courts and a proper financial ass reaming, we should still be careful on just how broad of a protection we give works like this. Especially, when originality as far as art is concerned is so amazingly subjective.

            • by vux984 (928602) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:01AM (#41350325)

              Is it not an original work of art?

              The mustache might me. Maybe. But no, its a derivative work.

              Would you say Andy Warhol was infringing upon Campbell's IP?

              Yes. Absolutely. Without question. It was clearly a transformative but derivative work.

              But that's not really the important question. The important question is whether it was fair use. The mustachioed mona lisa was parody and defendable as fair use.

              The Warhol on the other hand... not so much... I expect Campbell's could have asserted trademark and copyright claims against warhol and won.

              But it sounds like they went the other way:

              http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4152/4843441474_f175f96718_b.jpg [flickr.com]

              ie... they likely had rights, but chose not to assert them here. It was effectively an authorized work at that point.

            • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:51AM (#41351159) Journal

              Dude you can break out the ruler and their "creation' is pixel perfect, so much so that you could mix and match furniture between the two games and nobody would ever notice!

              And look at the characters, their look, their animations, there isn't a damned original ANYTHING! Not a single thing! Don't you think that that goes above and beyond a simple idea?

              Nobody is saying "you can't make a FPS" or "You can't make a tower defense game" but what I'm saying is you at LEAST have to do SOMETHING, anything, that isn't an exact copy of the other guy. Hell you could take guys from different FPS and put them in together and they wouldn't look out of place but they sure as hell wouldn't be exact clones, down to the shading on their pockets. Even the WWII games you could take screencaps of the different characters and there are SOME differences, if nothing else the particular shades they used for the various uniforms. Even Warhol used size, shading, and composition to change the default soup can to give his interpretation.

              so nobody is saying you can't use the gameplay mechanics and rough ideas, hell if they did there wouldn't be any FPS games since 90%+ of them is "Generic American Soldier in action movie" but you at least have to do your own take on the idea, put a teeny tiny bit of thought, what Zynga did was "Shrubs VS The Undead" with every single enemy and unit pixel perfect. Hell even the Mockbusters use different characters and storylines and those are MEANT to be ripoffs!

        • Re:Zynga hahahahah (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Saturday September 15, 2012 @09:16PM (#41349321) Journal

          Dude, look up "Zynga rips off indie" in the search engine of your choice and be ready to shit brick, because as another poster put it "Its like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa and calling it an original artwork". Look up "The Farm" I believe it was called and compare it to farmville, hell pick ANY game they have and look up its name and "ripoff" and you'll find that some little indie had put out a game one to two years before and once it started gaining a few users? here comes Zynga and a pile of their Chinese coders to bold face rip it off!

          Hell look up the EA court papers man, they have in it side by side photos, they fucking stole EVERYTHING. The characters, their animations, the thought bubble, the UI, the sound, they might as well have just took EA's code and stuck their name on it, it's THAT blatant.

          Look, I got NO problem with taking a basic idea and making your own take, look at how we have a bazillion tower defense games, Good God half the FPS games out there are so generic war themed you could place them side by side and it looks like "Generic action movie #47" but that is NOT what we have here, they did NOT put out their own take, what they did is more like taking tracing paper and just ripping it off frame by frame!

          Please look it up for yourself Bob, I know how you feel. When I first heard of this I thought "So they both have Sims style games, so what?" but holy shit, they didn't even fricking pretend to have an original thought, it was a pixel to pixel copy. I'm not shitting you either, one of the EA guys actually took measurements and more than 3/4th of the artwork is even pixel by pixel sized so damned identically you could mix and match between the two games and nobody would notice! I'm sure after you see the pics, especially of the little indie guys that could afford to fight back, that Zynga deserves to die and EA deserves to win, this is just pure theft, no bones about it.

        • by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @03:27AM (#41371953) Homepage Journal

          I would say the proper term is "plagiarised". What Zynga did was not (as one poster said) adding a moustache to the Mona Lisa and calling it an original, but rather selling copies of a famous painting that is alike except for the signature and the colour of the flowers in the far background. Alike enough to dupe careless buyers, and just different enough to pretend that it is an original work of art.

      • by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:47PM (#41353975) Homepage
        I worked for a company who was bought out by zynga (we made dopewars) It was a very very bad experience. They are the definition of a troll company with too much money and no brains.
  • by SpzToid (869795) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:43PM (#41346603)

    Patent wars are so passé. I am so ready for the anti-poach wars!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @02:08PM (#41347163)

      Antipoaching agreements are illegal in California and very bad for non-unionized labor. I'd like to see the State go after Silicon Valley companies more aggressively.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @03:58PM (#41347721)
        When discussing legal things, one should endeavor to use correct legal terminology. It isn't "illegal." That would imply that a company demanding one is breaking some law, and just asking for a non-compete is against the law. That's false. They are not "illegal". They are "not legally binding" That is, someone could demand you sign it as a condition of employment (and are free to not hire you if you don't agree to sign), but when you leave, the contract is void, and you are free to do what you want without contractual consequences.
  • EA vs Zynga (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:44PM (#41346613)

    Who's side are we supposed to be on?

  • My choice (Score:5, Funny)

    by meerling (1487879) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:53PM (#41346663)
    I'm cheering for EA on this one. Oh god, I feel sick and dirty, I need to take a shower now. :(
  • by gubon13 (2695335) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:56PM (#41346691)
    EA is going to counter counter sue you, yo!
  • by stepdown (1352479) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:02PM (#41346725) Journal
    Can't think of two companies I'd rather see hemorrhaging money in the courtrooms.
  • by ZackSchil (560462) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:32PM (#41346911)

    Ripping off games: BAAAAAAD
    Ripping off trade dress: GOOOOOOOOD... WELL NOOOOOTTT GOOOOOOOD BUUUUTT OOOOOKKKAAAAY WHHHAAATTTEEEVVVVVERR FUUUCKKK APPPPLEEE

    Just taking down some notes here for the zombie slashdot poster bot I've been writing.

  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:34PM (#41346931)

    When I was at PAX Dev a couple of weeks ago, one good way to get a laugh would be to mention virtually any player-manipulative or too openly copying large sections of games, then just insert the word 'Zynga'.

    The words 'E.A.' will also get some laughs connected to generic corporate thuggery, but after the whole 'Worst Company in America" stuff, it's a bit overplayed.

    Ryan Fenton

  • by Guru80 (1579277) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:40PM (#41346977)
    It comes down to personal perception more than the law. EA is the big bad guy on the block, Zynga is the family friendly buddy on facebook. There are no good guys here though, both are greedy thieves who would rob you blind in a moment if they could do so legally. Welcome to the business of studio game development/publishing. Thank god for indies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:48PM (#41347017)

    I want to hate zynga but EA is so much more evil.
    They copy/steal just like zynga, but they do so much more then zynga.
    $60 for a roster update in the sports games?
    An exclusive licence to the NFL?
    And how many good, interesting, profitable developers did EA buy, mismanage and ruin or shut down?
    Also don't tell me if the developer was profitable EA wouldn't have shut it down, that is naive bullshit. Large companies like EA shut down successful things all the time for not hitting unrealistic profit goals
    Since when did all games need to be the same as every other game?
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/09/06/ea-turns-its-back-on-single-player-games-embraces-the-cloud/
    http://www.destructoid.com/ea-wants-dead-space-3-to-appeal-to-a-broad-audience-229567.phtml
    Not every game needs online multiplayer. Not each game needs to apply to every single gamer on the planet. If a game is a niche experience then it by definition will have limited sales and the financially cannot support arbitrary demands for multiplayer or other whims of the publisher. But to EA they view a niche product as a failed product.

    Originally I was "cheering" for EA but Jim changed my mind or perhaps he just reminded me of bullshit ea has gotten away with.
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/6220-EA-versus-Zynga-The-Lesser-of-Two-Evils

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @01:53PM (#41347049)

    Did Zynga just hire SCO's old law firm or something recently? I mean, and this is as professional as I can be regarding this company, what the fuck are they thinking?

    They are to gaming what cheap spandex is to 40 yr. old strippers on the outskirts of Vegas. Either that or utterly talentless, parasitic copycats. Not sure which.

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @02:01PM (#41347109)

    does anyone give a crap? let them both sue each other into oblivion and the world will be a better place

  • by TRRosen (720617) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @03:13PM (#41347489)

    Well let's see.
    Nether company creates there own games. EA buys them and Zynga steals them.
    Both companies steal from their users it's just that EA does it $50 at a time while Zynga does it $.50 at a time.
    Both companies treat gamers like crap.
    EA abuses the hell out of professional developers while Zynga abuses the hell out of people that think they are developers.
    (sorry Zynga workers but my dog writes better code)
    EA uses huge expensive marketing campaigns of BS while Zynga just spams you until you give in.
    EA often ruins good games after taking them over. Zynga often ruins good games after copying them and flooding the market with their version.
    EA actions makes you hate them. Zynga's actions make you hate yourself.
    All in all the world would be better off if neither existed. But the tie breaker goes to EA as we would actually miss their games.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @04:13PM (#41347817)

    With both Zynga and EA lying financially in shambles because of the lawsuit, their lawyers team up and buy both Zynga and EA to form ZEANGA.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @04:22PM (#41347845)

    Everyone else is hoping they both loose. I am too, but the fight also creates precedent. If no hire agreements could get stopped I would say Zynga wining wouldn't be a terrible thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 15, 2012 @04:40PM (#41347939)

    With the underhanded way EA's scammed the crap out of many of their customers with BF3 (the premium thing tricking people into rebuying the whole product, and the way they force advertisements on you with their forcing people to use origin/battlelog to play) they deserve to get smacked around some. Go for it!

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @06:28PM (#41348521)

    It amazes me how often lawyers try to redact information from the public by changing the foreground and background to black when we can just select the text to reveal it.

    Their counterclaim is full of not-so-redacted text.

  • by laffer1 (701823) <luke@ f o o l i s h g a m es.com> on Saturday September 15, 2012 @07:26PM (#41348769) Homepage Journal

    I hate to say this, but Zynga has a point. Consider how many crappy b movies are made in Hollywood related to hits. It's particularly bad with children's movies, but it also happened to Jaws and Jurassic Park. I heard on NPR recently that they're making a big comeback since digital distribution has taken over. It's easier to get on Netflix or Amazon's service than in stores. How is it different to copy a game versus a movie?

    My big problem with Zynga isn't that they copy games shamelessly from EA and others, it's that they have serious issues with privacy and they treat their employees like crap. EA's just pissed they didn't think of it first.

  • by kiriath (2670145) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @08:28PM (#41349101)

    Companies like Zynga that churn out these games to feed off the souls(and wallets) of those who have the time to devote to them make me sick. These companies create games that lead people to absolutely nowhere, working tirelessly at something seemingly insurmountable, only to have something new and even more insurmountable to take its place. Repetitive nonsense spewed forth with slightly different packaging to make it a little different the next go round.

    I'm looking at you Blizzard *evileyes*

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @12:36AM (#41350105)

    I'd expect to read on the Onion. Not CNET.

  • You know, the tagline, "whoever wins... we lose"?

    Also reminded of that joke that was so popular in elementary schools, "what would you rather be eaten by, a [any random carnivore], or a [random other carnivore]?" "I'd rather the [two carnivores from the previous sentence] eat each other."

Mathematicians stand on each other's shoulders. -- Gauss

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