EA and Zynga Not In Fisticuffs After All

EA and Zynga fight ends in a quiet settlement.

In the most disappointing legal match of the century, EA and Zynga are decidedly not going to end up in blows over their recent copyright lawsuit battle.

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Back in August, EA announced that it would be seeking legal action against Zynga, citing the similarities between Zynga’s social-platform simulation game, The Ville, and EA’s The Sims Social. EA asserts that Zynga’s game was released nearly a full year after The Sims Social.

The memo EA released to accompany the news of lawsuit is a heart-wrenching emotional tale about the noble honor of creativity, with the most uplifting statement I’ve ever seen from EA:

Some will say The Ville simply iterates; some will tell us to get over it and move on.  We are confident in our position, and that we will prevail. But even if we do not, we will have made a point.

But once you’ve unleashed the EA beast, you really can’t expect to hold it back. The official filing not only asserts its claim for The Sims Social, but calls Zynga’s entire business practice into ethical question.

“EA believes and therefore alleges that Zynga did not achieve its success in online social gaming through creative game design and innovation. To the contrary, it is widely reported, and EA believes and therefore alleges, that Zynga explicitly discourages innovation in game design and instead watches successful games, plays and analyzes those games, and then creates its own games that closely follow the games of its competitors. Zynga’s practice is well recognized, and demonstrates that the substantial similarity between The Sims Social and The Ville is not mere coincidence, but is the result of willful, intentional conduct that lies at the heart of Zynga’s business model.”

In typical response, Zynga turned around and sued EA right back

“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.”

And, in true playground fashion, added a few choice remarks about EA’s mother… I mean, business practices.

“The truth is that despite years of trying to compete, and spending more than a billion dollars on acquisitions, EA has not been able to successfully compete in the social gaming space and was losing talent, particularly to social gaming leader Zynga. Desperate to stem this exodus, EA undertook an anti-competitive and unlawful scheme to stop Zynga from hiring its employees and to restrain the mobility of EA employees in violation of the spirit of the antitrust laws and California public policy. EA sought, by threat of objectively and subjectively baseless sham litigation, what it could never lawfully obtain from Zynga – a no-hire agreement that would bar Zynga’s hiring of EA employees.”

Much to the disappointment of everyone who loves a good show, the lawsuits were dismissed with prejudice in federal court today, meaning that neither company can sue the other over this claim in the future. Both companies released an identical statement in response: “EA and Zynga have resolved their respective claims and have reached a settlement of their litigation in the Northern District of California.”

The futures of Sims Social and The Ville are unclear at this point, as the resolution is sealed, but it’s doubtful that players will see any actual change in the games. It doesn’t matter a whole lot for EA, however, as Zynga announced back in October that it would be phasing The Ville out of its lineup to help put some money back in Zynga’s pockets.

I can’t be the only one feeling a little let down but the resolution between EA and Zynga. There’s nothing that I love more than big, messy, public lawsuits between gaming companies who have a tendency for slinging around accusations, and I sure would have liked to see how many zeroes were on that check.


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HC Billings
HC Billings is an excellent gamer, acceptable writer, and laughable parkourist.