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Copying Trumps Creating For FarmVille Creator Zynga

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the at-least-they're-honest dept.

Businesses 319

theodp writes "The good news for Zynga is that it scored the cover of SF Weekly. The bad news is that the FarmVillains cover story starts out by describing the secret to the toast-of-Silicon-Valley company's success thusly: 'Steal someone else's game. Change its name. Make millions. Repeat.' SF Weekly says interviews conducted with several former Zynga workers indicate that the practice of stealing other companies' game ideas — and then using Zynga's market clout to crowd out the games' originators — was business as usual. 'I don't ****ing want innovation,' one ex-employee recalled Pincus saying. 'You're not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers.' Another quipped that 'Zynga's motto is "Do Evil."' Valleywag piles on with an item on the existence of Zynga's underground 'Platinum Purchase Program,' reportedly geared towards making players known as 'whales' part with a minimum of $500 at a time for imaginary credits."

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319 comments

Fuck Commander Taco! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563620)

I gave some guy $40 farmville bucks for a robot chicken. Haven't gotten shit, he called himself Commander Taco. F U Eod.

Re:F Commander Taco! (1)

DevConcepts (1194347) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563846)

Robot chickens don't defecate, so you wouldn't have gotten any $hit.

Bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563652)

What nice people they turned out to be.

It's not stealing (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563654)

But... but... it's not stealing. It's copyright violation. You can't steal from somebody if they still have the original copy. (close captioning for the sarcasm impaired, that was sarcasm.).

Re:It's not stealing (4, Informative)

Conception (212279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563774)

Actually, it's not even copyright violation. You can't copyright a game, only it's art/text/etc. See Monopoly/Scrabble.

Re:It's not stealing (4, Informative)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563962)

You can patent a game, or get a design patent for the distinctive board design. That's why free Scrabble games don't have a board layout identical to the original game.

Patents expire. (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564320)

You can patent a game, or get a design patent for the distinctive board design.

Unlike copyright, you have to apply for patent before the infringement. Unlike copyright registration, which costs about $40, patent registration costs a non-trivial sum of money. And unlike copyright, a patent will expire.

Re:It's not stealing (2, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563982)

...and make sure the name is nowhere close to the original's name. See also The game formerly known as Scrabulous [wikipedia.org]

So far, Zynga has been smart enough to avoid that particular trap, but the odds of coming a bit too close may be enough to gut them financially (not from the small operators, mind, but from one of the big boys, e.g. Mattel and the like).

Re:It's not stealing (3, Funny)

MaerD (954222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563990)

It all makes sense now, Scrabble stole all of it's ideas from Monopoly! That's why you build hotels on the triple word score tiles!

On a serious note, not being able to copyright "game concepts" or "rules" won't stop you from being sued. Scrabble has sued several "play alikes", and so have the owners of Tetris.

duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563660)

Captain Obvious to the Obviousmobile!

Hmmm (1)

sheph (955019) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563678)

I knew there was a reason I didn't like FarmVille. I just hadn't quite put my finger on it til now.

Re:Hmmm (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563992)

that reason is: they are assholes. And now your finger is on their asshole, pushing against their brown rosebud. You can feel a bulge build up in your pants as you drop to your knees and start licking sphincter to lube it up.

Farm Town (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563686)

From what I remember, Farm Town had better features than FarmVille (you could actually chat with other players, you could go to other farms, see people there and help harvest their fields). But it was a flakier game, more prone to crashing.

So let me be the 1st to say (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563688)

Screw Zynga. People need to immediately stop playing these money-draining pavlovian flash games

Re:So let me be the 1st to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564004)

I have a retarded* friend who absolutely loves Farmville. Probably 'nuff said right there, but it does pose something of an ethical question: is it right for the Farmvillains to entertain the mentally feeble like this?

*clinically

Re:So let me be the 1st to say (3, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564010)

Actually, based on what I know of the people who are playing FarmVille, I'd prefer they were mindlessly pecking away within their houses at an imaginary farm than contaminating the rest of society.

Re:So let me be the 1st to say (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564064)

Yeah, go playing Kingdom of Loathing, a FREE pavlovian html game

And this is a surprise to who? (4, Insightful)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563700)

Okay, I'm sad to say I've given more of my time then I'd like to Facebook games. I'm also happy to say that I've managed to reform myself. Finally broke myself free (and am in the process of "de-friending" people who I friended just for the player boost).

This shouldn't be a huge surprise to anyone. Lots of games in arcades ripped off competitors. The only difference with Zynga is that its much more visible to people.

Heck, between the limited game mechanics available, they actually only have one or two games, with LOTS of reskinning between different flavors of them. Hopefully this will encourage more innovation but the sad fact is, that it will only discourage innovation, since if you DO come up with something fun and innovative, there is the concern that someone like Zynga will come along and just rip it off lock/stock/barrel, so why bother?

Re:And this is a surprise to who? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564036)

Oh jesus, go fick yourself. You sound like a fucking sexaholic that finally found peace in celebacy. Cripes! What are you? 14 yo?

Re:And this is a surprise to who? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564132)

One glance at his userid tells me you just insulted a mighty ancient powerlord.

Re:And this is a surprise to who? (2, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564104)

1. Make up a new game for facebook.
2. Wait for Zynga to rip it off.
3. ???
4. Profit!

good (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563712)

It's refreshing to hear some honesty in business. Don't pretend your product is revolutionary. Don't try to change the world. Just make money using proven methods. That's good, honest business right there.

Re:good (5, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563762)

It does lead to an interesting debate regarding what we (the net) consider to be right and acceptable.

Here we have a story of someone seeing someone else doing something and basically saying, "I can do that." Do we get upset when a new pizza restaurant opens up? Or perhaps another excavation company? What makes this worse than some company saying "Hey, I can do that cheaper."

I realize there are issues with respect to intellectual property, but this IS an important point of discussion. When is the line crossed?

Re:good (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563786)

Let's not forget all the FOSS clones of proprietary software too.

Re:good (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563862)

> Let's not forget all the FOSS clones of proprietary software too.

Nearly all of those proprietary apps are themselves clones.

Re:good (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563946)

Nearly all of those proprietary apps are themselves clones.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Re:good (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564022)

Nearly all of those proprietary apps are themselves clones.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

But three copylefts do.

Re:good (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564102)

Not the point at all. If A claims B ripped him off and sues him - and loses - that sets a precedent that can be used when B sues C, C sues D etc.

Re:good (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564328)

>> Nearly all of those proprietary apps are themselves clones.
>
> Two wrongs don't make a right.

Who said there's anything wrong?

I am not some Lemming that drones on about "freedom to innovate" and tries to credit Microsoft or Apple with things they didn't really invent.

Re:good (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564012)

Nearly all of those proprietary apps are themselves clones.

...often of what was originally FOSS software. How's that for a vicious circle?

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564144)

...often of what was originally FOSS software. How's that for a vicious circle?

Then you wouldn't mind providing examples, right?

Re:good (2, Insightful)

spikenerd (642677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564150)

Nearly all of those proprietary apps are themselves clones.

...often of what was originally FOSS software. How's that for a vicious circle?

Further, they often even derived from the same source code ...until the GPL became a popular way to prevent that.

Re:good (1)

sjpadbury (169729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564182)

> Let's not forget all the FOSS clones of proprietary software too.

Nearly all of those proprietary apps are themselves clones.

So 2 wrongs makes a right?
Heck, even if you're just copying a copy, it's still a copy of whomever had the original idea somewhere back up the chain.

(Note: I'm not saying reusing an idea is right or wrong, I'm just pointing out the hole in this particular argument)

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564238)

Commercial products may be derivatives, but most aren't clones. They actually do evolve and add new features and rework old ideas. A clone is something that copies something else, perhaps not in completeness, but without creating its own set of differences. It adds features recently released in its commercial alternative. A great deal of open source projects are, in fact, clones. And there's nothing wrong with those projects.

Re:good (3, Insightful)

ect5150 (700619) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563978)

It does lead to an interesting debate regarding what we (the net) consider to be right and acceptable.

Here we have a story of someone seeing someone else doing something and basically saying, "I can do that." Do we get upset when a new pizza restaurant opens up? Or perhaps another excavation company? What makes this worse than some company saying "Hey, I can do that cheaper."

I realize there are issues with respect to intellectual property, but this IS an important point of discussion. When is the line crossed?

I don't see people complaining when the "I can do that cheaper" turns into lower prices for those pizzas, or cars, or processors, or RAM, etc... I thought people liked having AMD to keep Intel's prices in check.

Re:good (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564380)

I don't see people complaining when the "I can do that cheaper" turns into lower prices for those pizzas, or cars, or processors, or RAM, etc... I thought people liked having AMD to keep Intel's prices in check.

The problem comes when someone says "I can do that" and "I can do that cheaper", but not "I can do that better", and certainly not "I have any obligation to keep doing that cheaper after I've used the first two statements to drive my competitors out of business without so much as a tip of my hat to them". Add in "I can't do that better, but I can use my marketing clout to make everyone ignore my better and/or cheaper competitors", and you wind up with stifled innovation. Smaller pizza shops don't want to bother with the risk of innovation when the larger shop can just yoink whatever ideas they had, not even bother to give them credit*, and run them out of business.

*: I know there are open source/CC licenses which would specifically force the larger company to give credit where credit is due at the very least, which is quite noble and good, but the smaller company would still be forced into a costly, protracted, and not-at-all-painful-to-the-larger-company legal battle to make that happen if the larger company truly is as dishonest as Zynga.

Re:good (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564072)

it's a service in exchange for money.

When I read the phrase "whales" I was reminded of the movie Boiler Room, about a fraudulent brokerage firm that tried to pump up the value of stock and sell them to suckers and the crossroads of stupid and rich were named, "Whales."

Is it immoral? Who knows. Is it illegal? that's for the courts to decide. am I going to spend my money there? Hell no.

Re:good (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564206)

Do we get upset when a new pizza restaurant opens up?

You might if it copied a smaller restaurant's signature dish and used a massive advertising campaign to become much better known.

Re:good (1)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564046)

There's nothing honest about this. The quoted narrative is internal to the company - they'll never go on record saying that they've 'borrowed' from their competitors. The software industry is a world of ideas - taking ideas from others and using 'business acumen' to leave the original inventors in the dust is as dishonest as it gets. This is why software companies are forced to spend enormous amounts of money on patents and litigation. And at that point the winners are determined by the quality/price of the lawyers and not by the value of the created software.

Re:good (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564188)

It's refreshing to hear some honesty in business.

How the flying fuck do you get 'honesty' from "SF Weekly says interviews conducted with several former Zynga workers indicate that the practice of stealing other companies' game ideas — and then using Zynga's market clout to crowd out the games' originators — was business as usual."?

Former employees revealing a company's theft of IP != honesty in business.

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564336)

That's totally hearsay. They weren't under oath, or otherwise legally compelled to tell the truth.

    I worked for Microsoft in the 1950's, and they killed people for their ideas. At least for the ones we couldn't steal. Then the pods came down, and we replaced all of the worlds leaders with our clones.

    I won't say if Zynga is or isn't stealing games. It's the level of trust that I have in a few anonymous cowards. :)

Cash discount.. not really groundbreaking (2, Insightful)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563722)

I understand them not wanting to go through the hassle of wire transfers for everyone, that's where the ease of credit cards come in. I think it's good of them to offer this fee avoiding method to big time users. They're obviously passing the savings back onto the user in the form of bonus. As for the complaints about wasting money... how much do you pay for cable tv every month? At least these games are social and interactive. I don't play any zynga games myself but do play some free MMO's and pay-to-play MMO's as well and have no problem spending money on things I enjoy. And no.. I do not pay for cable tv, and only use my tv set for netflix and console.

Obviously evil. (2, Funny)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563730)

Zynga sounds like an evil name to me. Darth Zynga, Lord Zynga, Master Zynga all sound like good villain names to me.

Re:Obviously evil. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564142)

Hello Zynga, Winnie the Zynga, My Little Zynga, Jiminy Zynga, Mary Kate and Ashley Zynga.

That stuff works both ways.

Re:Obviously evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564244)

Oh yea - well so do YOU!

zing!

Re:Obviously evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564246)

No, those still sound evil. Every last one of them - getting more evil as you go down the list.

Re:Obviously evil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564302)

Hello Zynga - Evil Cat brings bad luck as it crosses your path
Winnie the Zynga - Eats Tar
My Little Zynga - Pulls a Chariot to Hell
Jiminy Zynga - Chirps will make your ears bleed
Mary Kate & Ashley Zynga - Terrible Twosome that will make you cry and gnash your teeth

Yea, Still Evil.

Re:Obviously evil. (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564202)

Master Zynga sounds more like the quirky martial arts mentor. The rest are definitely evil FarmVillains.

Re:Obviously evil. (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564214)

Dr. Zynga of the Gizmonic Institute

like the people that buy NY lotto tickets? (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563760)

my wife used to buy the scratch off tickets and once in a while i used to take the winning ones to the store to cash them out. i noticed that they scan the bar code to verify a winning ticket. and most of the people i see buying them scratch them off with hope and dreams.

farmville is not that different than most RPGs except its freemium. most RPG's the game play is very repetitive with minor rewards along the way. farmville is free to start and you pay if you want the rewards faster.

I think this idea started with Napoleon and his practice of giving soldiers ribbons for bravery in battle. people would risk their lives for a colored piece of cloth

Re:like the people that buy NY lotto tickets? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564134)

You're confusing RPG with MMO or the variant of MMORPG

Re:like the people that buy NY lotto tickets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564250)

If I read what you're saying correctly, then I am working 8-10 hours a day for meaningless pieces of paper.

Fuck, I think you just might be right.

What the hell is wrong with us?

Re:like the people that buy NY lotto tickets? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564272)

RPGs are analogous to books though. In Final Fantasy 9, you had to deal with Queen Brahne and Kuja and the Ilifa Tree and Garland and the mist and another world and everything, with a whole opera played out on this. In Final Fantasy 8, the story was completely different, around military tactics and a really weird piece of magic. In Tales of Symphonia we had to deal with parallel worlds and a sociopathic immortal and some other political shit. The stories are all different.

Just ask Gameloft Studios (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563770)

It sure works for them!

okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563772)

So they are like Blizzard?

Re:okay (2, Interesting)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563934)

Blizzard has certainly had some games that were derivative. Warcraft was in some ways derivative of Dune. And Diablo was essentially just a standard rogue-like game but with better graphics and slightly more options. And there wasn't much that was innovative to WoW. However, some things Blizzard has done have been very noteworthy. Starcraft for example was the first real time strategy game that had very different tech trees and units for each side but was still balanced. And they did that with not just two, but three sides. Warcraft III then did the same thing with even more variation and four sides. And Blizzard has done a fantastic job at pushing the boundaries when it comes to graphics. The comparison beween Blizzard and these people doesn't hold at all.

Re:okay (2, Interesting)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564114)

Balanced is fun when you are playing for a challenge or with friends/people.
On the other hand, I liked one of the Real-Time strat games (forget which one since I'm not at home in front of my library), where they made the stats file a simple .INI style file.

Great idea, and very useful to give me a "leg up" over the computer. Who needs a cheat code or trainer if you can modify the game's rules to let you create an army of unstoppable tanks for relatively little money? :D

Yeah, it wasn't "fair", but it WAS FUN!

Then when I was done I could change the universe rules again and play as the bad guys and trounce the good guys with unstoppable air ships! ;)

Re:okay (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564308)

Dug a little (thank you Google). It was "Dark Reign". Fun game! Going to have to dig it out and see how it runs on my XP VM image. :)

Re:okay (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564196)

So, because Blizzard has made games that you like, they're above reproach?

Re:okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563970)

No, they are like Apple. Copy someone elses OS (BSD), copy someone elses MP3 player (everyone before them), copy someone elses tablet (Windows/Android) and then use marketing clout to sell them (Pc vs Mac (while grossly lying about the compition, its why they call them PC and not Windows because PC means nothing legally, the new Brand X), ect)....

funny farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563776)

if you're parting with $500 for game 'credits', you most certainly deserve to be put out to pasture.

Whales? (3, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563794)

Zynga's underground 'Platinum Purchase Program,' reportedly geared towards making players known as 'whales' part with a minimum of $500 at a time for imaginary credits.

They sound more like cows to me - prime for the milking.

Re:Whales? (1)

to_kallon (778547) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563974)

They sound more like cows to me - prime for the milking.

Not to split hairs but strictly speaking I believe that one could in fact also milk a whale, being mammals.

Re:Whales? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564002)

Cows are much more famous in the game world, too: You fight like a dairy farmer!

Re:Whales? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564296)

How appropriate; you fight like a cow.

Re:Whales? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564358)

I hope you have a boat ready for a quick escape!

Re:Whales? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564014)

Whales as slang is a term referring to high rollers at casinos. You know, those people who are willing to part with large quantities of money in one sitting. I imagine that's why they use it to describe their customers.

Re:Whales? (0)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564028)

it's stolen from the movie Boiler Room [imdb.com] about young stockbrokers lying to clients about worthless stocks in the late 90s.

"Guy's probably a whale . See what he's playing with. Truth is it doesn't matter these days. With the DOW where it is now, everyone wants a piece of the market. I can close anyone at any time anywhere in the country. Just give me a phone number. " [generationterrorists.com]

Zynga really does steal everything, but it's ironic that they chose that movie because at the end they're all busted by the FBI. Are you trying to tell us something Zynga?

Re:Whales? (2, Informative)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564068)

The screenwriter(s) of Boiler Room didn't invent that bit of slang. It's been used by bookies, casino operators, and stock brokers for years to describe someone with more money than sense.

Re:Whales? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564300)

Everyone playing in the stock market or casino ipso facto has more money than sense.

A whale is someone who has more money than the other suckers, sometimes enough to make the other suckers all but superfluous.

Re:Whales? (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564240)

Boiler Room? From 2000? No, that term has been used by casinos far longer than that. It was in the movie Casino, from 1995, for instance.

The town will never be the same. After the Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today, it's all gone. You get a whale show up with four million in a suitcase, and some twenty-five-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number.

Re:Whales? (4, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564040)

Casino's refer to high-rollers as whales, I believe that is where the term comes from.

I worked at FreeLoader... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563806)

He seemed like a nice guy back then.

"Imaginary Credits" (4, Insightful)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563816)

I don't understand the people railing against Facebook-based or other games because of the so-called issue of paying real money for in-game credits. People put in real quarters to play a video games at the arcade, they subscribe to World of Warcraft and other MMORGs.

You're not paying for credits, you're paying for entertainment provided by the game.

Re:"Imaginary Credits" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33563884)

Actually with these games you are paying the ability to have more entertainment in less time. These "games" are not what I would consider actual games, most could be replaced with progress quest with a "speed-up for $1/minute" button.

Re:"Imaginary Credits" (1)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563998)

These "games" are not what I would consider actual games,

Not everybody likes every game. The fact is millions of people play them.

Re:"Imaginary Credits" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564384)

I hate smoking and would like to see it banned everywhere including homes, but I have to see a parallel here. I too think these games are complete crap, not worthy of being called games in the first place, but the fact remains that people like wasting their time on them. Therefore, as I do with the smokers, and as long as they don't bother me with their activities, I will stay the fuck out of their business.

Yeah, so ? (0, Troll)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563840)

So let's see if I understand the situation. They are ruthless competitors who make highly popular games and use their strength to push out competitors. Nothing they are doing is illegal, but of course people are whining about it anyway.

Sounds like the system is working as intended.

Re:Yeah, so ? (1)

Sprouticus (1503545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563904)

Arguably their behavior may involve elements of anti-trust activity if they have a stranglehold on the market. Not knowing the status of the market for FB game (I believe they have at least one large competitor), I dont know if this is the case. But if they do qualify as a monopoly (or even a duopoly) their may be consequences to such behavior.

And lets not even get into the illegal vs unethical discussion.

Lastly, it may be important enough for some users to stop playing their games. Some people DO actually vote with their wallets.

Re:Yeah, so ? (0, Flamebait)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563950)

...their may be consequences to such behavior.

And lets not even get into the illegal vs unethical discussion

Can we get we get into the contraction vs. possessive discussion?

Re:Yeah, so ? (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563942)

Except that they ripped off the "FarmTown" game, which existed LONG before it. I'm not sure how it isn't a total copyright violation, but I'm sure that by the time the litigation got through the works, it would probably be too late for whoever ACTUALLY did all the hard work of coming up with that game to recoup their losses.

Zynga are nothing more than a bunch of thieves. Whether their theft is legalized or not is probably up for debate, but it's theft nonetheless.

Re:Yeah, so ? (2, Insightful)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564148)

So it's unethical to copy a decent unpatented idea that's been ineptly marketed and turn it into a titan of the industry? I disagree. If they were so concerned, they could have applied for a design patent or a trademark. Problem is: there are already farming games out there in the world. FarmTown is just as derivative as Farmville, just marketed and developed poorly. Simply moving the farming game paradigm to a social network hardly counts as innovation worthy of protection, IMO.

Re:Yeah, so ? (1)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564176)

It's unfortunate that FarmTown sucked balls compared to Farmville back then and probably still does, otherwise they may have actually made a "good" Facebook "game" after getting some people to actually play it. Whoever does it better wins, there's nothing more to it.

Harvest Moon (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564342)

Except that they ripped off the "FarmTown" game

As if FarmTown didn't copy Harvest Moon in the first place.

I'm not sure how it isn't a total copyright violation

From US Copyright Office publication FL108 [copyright.gov] : "Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles. Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form."

MBA's vs the guys in the garage (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563882)

this goes back years. Microsoft used to do the same thing. they would visit a company, see a product, decline to buy it and then it would come up in the next version of WIndows. lately i see that Windows has a lot of third party licensed software. Apple is buying up small companies and last week there was news how Apple stopped doing business with a design firm that showed off an ipad lookalike. apple pays others to design products or parts of them.

big companies with herds of MBA's take years to do anything and then it's so bad no one wants to use it. a few guys in a garage always innovate. look at YouTube, Facebook and all the current big names. AOL had a video service years ago and they used the actor from married with children to advertise it on TV. shockingly it died.

Re:MBA's vs the guys in the garage (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564110)

Apple's break-up with the design firm over the tablet design they were showing off isn't over idea-stealing, but because they felt that their "partner" was cheating on them with other OEMs.

Re:MBA's vs the guys in the garage (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564274)

point is that two guys in a garage will take a risk and create something revolutionary like youtube or facebook or a personal computer. their risk is their time and a little money they might lose.

large companies will have Oracle Financials and other software to model risk and there will be endless meetings about a new product, evolving feature sets, etc. Sony had some cool stuff in the 1990's in the labs except the media guys would cry piracy and the top management killed or crippled every single potential product that seemed cool. Microsoft, Apple and Google didn't invent any of the ideas in their top products. they weren't even the first ones to make a product. they copied from someone else and got it right. or they buy them out. Apple didn't make up multi-touch, they bought a company in 2005. i heard Google bought the companies that made up google voice and android

Zygna is the worst (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563892)

Zygna's business model, as the article says, is to just copy a game and then add a whole lot of "spam your friends" features. Unfortunatly, like AOL disks before them, this works and they've got the largest base of gamers on Facebook. The absolute worst part is that other companies saw the success of the "spam like hell and don't worry about the consequences" business model and immediately followed suit, so that all games on Facebook feel the need to post 4 or 5 messages a day to your wall/friends wall/friends messages/email/sms/friends email/etc...

Even big names like EA got into the game. They bought up Playfish earlier and immediately started adding as many "spam your friends" features as they could think of to all of the PF games. Worse, as Facebook adds features to block (automatically or manually) said spam messages, the companies work as fast as possible to get around the blocks. Right now I have half a dozen posts from some damn fugly animal breeding game or something that make it through because they're posted as pictures in the account or something.

Also, if you want to see what unbridled evil look like, pull up any of those games and check out the "free cash offers", which look like an inbox without a spam filter. "Sign up for an UzbeckBank Credit Card and get 100 fake "real money" coins!". Fill out this fake survey with tons of personal information for 10 coins. etc...

Re:Zygna is the worst (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564084)

People may learn about these games because of their inherent social networking hooks, but they're playing them and spending money on them because they're fun. No amount of advertising is going to make a boring game fun.

There may be more fun games out there, but if their designers fail to get the word out, then they screwed up. There's nothing stopping the originators from taking a page right out of Zynga's book and adding the social network hooks to their "original" games. They don't, and Zynga drinks their milkshake. They screwed up. No tears here.

Re:Zygna is the worst (3, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564282)

There's nothing stopping the originators from taking a page right out of Zynga's book and adding the social network hooks to their "original" games.

You're misunderstanding the situation.

These are social network games that Zynga's ripping off. FarmVille, for example, is almost (or was at launch) the exact same game as FarmTown. Both were on Facebook etc. Both had very similar social hooks.

What's different is that Zynga at this point has inertia. When FarmVille launched, people who played any of their games were deluged with advertising and promos encouraging them to try out FarmVille for a month or more.

I'm not surprised (4, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563948)

And I know nothing about Zynga, I just saw this pattern on similar "farming" games on the iPhone.

This is just the natural growth from Mafia wars and Farmville. These games are simplistic games based on a simple mathematical progression formula, and they are designed to make you want to get into the game as often as you can until you can't stand it any more and move on. Then you end up moving onto another game which is similar but then ends up being the exact same game.

When the iPhone came out, two major companies basically had a formula where they created mafia wars clones, then they decided to clone their own games! They made games based on ninjas, racing, spacefaring, transformers ripoffs, westerns, superheroes, etc, but the game was EXACTLY the same, just different names for the weapons, properties and missions. The business model was simple, offer the games for free, get as many people onto the games, offer them free "points" if they spent money on the game, then have them use those points to make themselves ultra powerful faster than us mere mortals who simply wanted to progress with the game normally. Eventually, script kiddies and low level hackers basically tried to get those points for free, because there was a high incentive to do so and the code was relatively simplistic to hack, and you get major hackers running around in the game killing every honest person and making their life hell so all those people move onto a new game... which was just a version of the old game in a new wrapper. Eventually the rich kiddies would come to dominate that game because they had the money, and the script kiddies would come to "0wn" that game too and ruin it and make everyone move on again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

These types of games are stupid, and are designed to get large payouts from a few stupid rich people who wipe their asses with $100. The games are not meant to be complex, and are meant to be easily copied by the creators, so it's easy for someone else to copy them as well. So it becomes a mad dash for the next shiny means of distracting people and saying "hey if you want to be L337 maybe you should give me $500 for some power pills!" And in order to keep ahead of script kiddies you have to basically perform a refresh of the business model by releasing a new game every now and then that's exactly like the old game but just looks different. So all of this is entirely unsurprising. No one is trying to inject any quality here or distinguish themselves. Doing so would cost more money and this isn't about investment, it's about quick very short term profits. The spammers have branched out and are happy that placed like Facebook and the iPhone have made it so easy to develop and distribute stupid simple games.

Far be it from me to stop these evil people from stealing from the rich, but for the rest of us, to paraphrase WOPR, the only way to win these games is by not playing.

Settlers get rich. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563968)

Pioneers get killed.
Univac, IMSA, MITS, Digital Research, Visicorp, DEC, Control Data.....

sounds like these Zynga guys (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 3 years ago | (#33563996)

have been playing too much Mafia Wars

Follow (0)

NetNed (955141) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564000)

Doesn't it sound pretty close to following the Microsoft business techniques?

This isn't new or exclusive to Zynga... (1)

ArcadeNut (85398) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564098)

This has been happening every since Video Games were invented.

Just take a look at the number of copies of popular games. Pac Man is probably THE most copied game in existence.

Bootleg games in the Arcade Industry was this exact model, except they went a little further and tried to make the copy of the game as close to the original as possible.

Good artists copy, great artists steal -Picasso (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564130)

You know there is nothing original in Star Wars, or in Avatar? It's all recycled material lifted from earlier, less rich&famous sources.

It's the same for inventions, the guy who ends up with the patent isn't necessarily the guy who innovated.

Zynga Helped Me Quit Facebook (2, Interesting)

czehp (156215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564168)

Zynga was actually the tipping point for me closing my Facebook account. The privacy issues didn't harm me since I didn't put in any information you couldn't find in a phonebook, but the endless stream of "Alice reamed Bob's mafia in AssWars!" messages killed it for me.

Re:Zynga Helped Me Quit Facebook (2, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564194)

FWIW, it's pretty easy to block all messages from a single app (or user) forever.

Re:Zynga Helped Me Quit Facebook (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33564390)

FWIW, it's pretty easy to block all messages from a single app (or user) forever.

I tried that, and by the time I deleted or blocked all the games, psuedo-spammers (I'm going to the bar tonight, look at me world!) I really had nothing valuable left vs the immense time investment required to keep up. Zap, account deleted.

Most people use facebook like they (used to?) use TV, as a way to fill empty time. If you do a cost-benefit analysis, you rapidly get rid of both.

More power to them! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33564376)

I'm all for abolishing the copyright, and this isn't even violating the copyright.

If your idea is good, it should be adopted and spread. You shouldn't get money or even recognition for the idea, just the satisfaction that the world is a slightly better place because of your contribution.

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