Monday, 17 September 2012

Zygna Countersues EA

Proof that apparently there's nothing that more lawsuits can't "solve".

Well, I told you that I'd cover further developments with regards to the case of EA vs. Zynga, and if this doesn't count as a development then I frankly don't know what would. Last Friday Zynga put down the equivalent of the "oh yeah? well we can play that game too!" card in the form of suing EA. claiming that among other things that EA's Sims Social ripped off their game YoVille, that EA does not have claim to the first life simulation game, and that the company has also been using unlawful business practices to try and keep former employees away from Zynga.

Although you can read the official documents on the page I linked, I've decided to share some of the important claims here more in-depth so that I can save you the trip. Essentially elaborating on what I mentioned above are the following, apologies in advance for the small text, blogger is acting up:

"Zynga denies the allegations of Paragraph 1 of the Complaint and further states: 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. Such elements of game design and gameplay are not original to EA and are not protectable under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §102, et.seq"

"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.

"4. EA explicitly communicated to Zynga that, although Zynga’s past hiring was lawful, EA’s Chief Executive Officer John Riccitiello was “on the war path,” “incensed” and“heated” and intent on stopping Zynga’s future hiring of EA employees. Mr. Riccitiello lamented the fact that Zynga was able to attract his talent with better compensation packages that EA just can’t match and feared losing additional executives and looking bad to his Board and shareholders.

"5. Zynga was told by EA’s legal team that Mr. Riccitiello had instructed them to obtain a no-hire agreement from Zynga that prohibited Zynga’s future hiring of EA employees. Absent such agreement, Mr. Riccitiello would direct a lawsuit to be filed against Zynga “knowing there was no basis and even though he loses.” Zynga was explicitly told that Mr. Riccitiello aimed (a) to stop altogether or at least slow Zynga down from hiring “his people”; (b) to make Zynga spend resources and money on meritless litigation; and (c) to intimidate remaining EA employees and scare them from leaving."

If you actually have the time then I wholeheartedly recommend reading the documents yourself, because they are actually kind of funny. Zynga does a lot of puffing itself up while slamming EA, and I find that even though the language is a bit stilted that it really does come off mostly as one company thumbing its nose at the other.

At the very least it seems that there's going to be no clear end in sight regarding this legal battle. If it were any other company besides EA then I'd be tempted to say that Zynga's claims are baseless in nature, but given that it is EA that we're talking about here, I'm not quite sure. I am reasonably certain that any truth in Zynga's allegations might be a complete accident on their part, but given some of EA's practices, let's just say that nothing would surprise me anymore.

I've said it elsewhere upon hearing this, but it bears saying about here. At this point this really looks like nothing more than two schoolyard bullies fighting it out to see who can continue to be a dick to everyone else. At this point I believe I would like nothing more than to see this action somehow bankrupt both companies. As sad as it is to say, the gaming world might be better off with both of them gone.

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