EA and Zynga trade insults in copyright battle

Electronic Arts is suing Zynga, claiming that Zynga’s The Ville violates its copyright.

According to EA, The Ville is an ‘unmistakable copy’ of The Sims Social.

“Not only does The Ville blatantly mimic the entire framework and style of gameplay in The Sims Social, but it so closely copies the original, creative expression and unique elements of The Sims Social – ie, the animation sequences, visual arrangements, characters’ motions and actions, and other unique audio-visual elements – that the two games are nearly indistinguishable,” reads the company’s complaint.

It’s got a point. Both Facebook games involve creating characters that can create homes and interact with their neighbors. Both allow players to choose from the same personality types – and even skin color.

“The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable,” says Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of EA’s Maxis label.

“”This is a case of principle. Maxis isn’t the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it.”

Zynga, though, is fighting back, accusing EA of misunderstanding copyright principles – and even of copying Zynga itself.

“It’s… ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga’s CityVille game,” it says.

Zynga probably can’t afford to lose, having struggled since its IPO to maintain market confidence.