We're not the first but we aim to be best says Zynga CEO Pincus, refuting Clonegate

Internal memo reveals stance on plagiarism

We're not the first but we aim to be best says Zynga CEO Pincus, refuting Clonegate
Perhaps wisely, Zynga isn't shirking claims the now infamous Dream Heights has an inescapable similarity to NimbleBit's Tiny Tower.

Rather, in an internal memo to Zynga employees, CEO Mark Pincus argues that it's our understanding of what crosses the line in terms of bettering a game or blatantly copying it that needs redefining.

In essence, it's Pincus' view that Zynga finds innovation through moving a genre forward and expanding its consumer base, rather than bringing out original games – something he admits the studio has never done.

Best not first

"We don't need to be first to market. We need to be the best in market," Pincus opens in the memo, obtained by GamesBeat.

"There are genres that we're going to enter because we know our players are interested in them and because we want and need to be where players are. We evolve genres by making games free, social, accessible and highest quality."

Pincus naturally points out that the tower building genre was around long before Tiny Tower launched on the App Store in 2011 - "it's important to note this category has existed since 1994 with games like Sim Tower and was more recently popularised in China with Tower of Babel in 2009 which achieved 15 million DAUs," he notes.

Regardless of its similarity, however, Pincus states Dream Heights merely continues Zynga's tradition of expanding upon existing ideas.

Nothing new

"Zynga Poker, FarmVille, CityVille and Words with Friends - none of these games were the first to market in their category but we made them the most fun and social, and the most popular," he adds.

"As I've said, our strategy since the beginning has been to develop the best game – most fun and most social – for every category of play.

"We are rarely first since most categories in games go back decades, but we aim to be the best."

Interestingly, Pincus also dismisses the notion that Zynga is guilty of the same crime as Vostu – the Brazillian studio Zynga successfully took to court last year over copyright infringement – noting that there are "rules of engagement in our industry", and that Vostu had gone further than merely emanating Zynga's line-up, instead choosing to "use our copyrighted IP and artwork."

"That's different than competing to build the best product or out-innovate us in the City category," he concludes.

No tiny issue

It's unlikely Pincus' letter will appease those at NimbleBit, however, who will no doubt feel the might of Zynga could well result in Dream Heights pushing Tiny Tower out of the picture.

"What a large scale failure of imagination," said NimbleBit co-founder David Marsh when Dream Heights hit the App Store.

"I don't wish Zynga any ill will, I just think it's depressing for all the devs at Zynga that don't have creative freedom."

The publishing of the letter comes as Facebook outfit Buffalo Studios has also accused Zynga of plagiarism, claiming the core of its Bingo Blitz game has been copied in Zynga Bingo, something Pincus denies

[source: GamesBeat]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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