Zynga responds to Nimblebit's copycat call out

The drama continues between indie dev NimbleBit and Zynga. Infographics have been sent and accusations have been made. In an interview with VentureBeat, CEO of Zynga Mark Pincus has stated that his company is not simply copying other developers’ games, but improving upon them. This particular tidbit from the interview is the most concerning:

“In essence, Pincus is not saying that it’s OK to copy someone else’s game. Rather, he is saying that a company can make a contribution to the canon of gaming if it takes an existing game and improves it. That company can reimagine the game and remove all the barriers that stand between the game reaching a billion people.”

To me all that says is, “Hey, we can use their idea and promote it better than they ever could thanks to our resources.” That’s real classy.

“You should be careful not to throw stones when you live in glass towers,” Pincus said. “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.”

NimbleBit’s Ian Marsh issued a fitting rebuttal to these claims.

“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.”

I’m sticking with Nimblebit on this one. It’s one thing to say that your game is “improving” or emulating the style/mechanics of another game, but it’s whole different ball game when a game is designed as a near replica of another. Help NimbleBit out by downloading Tiny Tower instead of Dream Heights. Tiny Tower is more fun to say anyway.

Via Touch Arcade, VentureBeat