EA’s lawsuit against Zynga for alleged copyright infringement of The ‘Ville against The Sims Social is going to hit a snag. Zynga’s filed a countersuit, saying their rival company’s claims don’t hold water.
According to Joystiq, Zynga is calling EA’s lawsuit a frivolous endeavor that has “no merit”—although pictorial comparisons between the two games don’t show a lot of differences. Here’s Zynga’s legal counselor Reggie Davis, with the group’s official stance on the matter and why they’re countersuing:
“Today we responded to EA’s claims which we believe have no merit. We also filed a counterclaim which addresses actions by EA we believe to be anticompetitive and unlawful business practices, including legal threats and demands for no-hire agreements. We look forward to getting back to focusing all our efforts on delighting our players.”
As far as anti-competitive business practices go, there’s arguments that can be made against both EA and Zynga, as they monopolize a great deal of the mobile and social gaming market. But as Zynga states it, EA is essentially trying to copyright a whole genre in order to discourage other developers.
Naturally, EA doesn’t agree, claiming that ideas from The Sims Social were stolen wholesale by Zynga and slightly altered. If they can prove that much beyond a doubt, then things will get very interesting.
Zynga’s answer and demand for a jury trial reads, “The two games at issue in EA’s Complaint, Zynga’s The Ville and EA’s The Sims Social, belong to a longstanding and well-developed genre known as ‘life simulation’ games. No one, including EA, may lay claim to the exclusive right to develop and release games in that genre, or to employ the common modes of expression and functional elements that must of necessity be used in the genre and that have come to characterize it.”
However, EA CEO John Riccitiello admitted before that Zynga’s social gaming efforts have (at one time) been three times more successful his own company’s, and many EA employees have been hired away to Zynga over time. There’s a definite sense that both companies’ similar-looking products may also be a results of so much talent crossing between both studios.
Regardless, the pressure is still squarely on Zynga, as the company continues to languish in the stock market. Much of their success has been reliant on good relations with Facebook, although there’s been a deliberate and purposeful move towards placing more of their content within the mobile market.