Zynga: Debate over originality is 'vastly overblown'

General manager at social game studio responds to claims that Zynga copies competitors' ideas, says "all games are derived from other games."

The debate over originality in the game industry is "vastly overblown," according to Zynga New York general manager Dan Porter. The executive recently explained that the practice of taking ideas from other games has existed long before Zynga came on the scene.

Porter was quoted last week at an industry event as saying it is "mostly true" that Zynga copies competitors' games. In a response to this report, Porter penned a blog post claiming his words were misconstrued.

"What I actually said was that all games are derived from other games, that this has been happening long before Zynga, and that the debate about originality in games is vastly overblown and misses the mark," Porter said. "Before making Draw Something we ran OMGPOP for four years and made lots of games that were inspired by games we loved and we emulated the mechanics from games with great UI. This is no great revelation."

Porter said the "true genius" of Zynga is how the social game company runs games as services rather than stand-alone products. "I really do believe that Zynga is the best in the world at creating and socializing games, and running the as a service that people love. Ultimately, that is the huge factor in what makes Zynga a sustaining company," he said.

Porter added that the debate over copying games is a "distraction" for anyone trying to figure out the future of the social game genre. What truly matters, according to Porter, is the ability to run and manage those games as services.

"But I also know that is a nuanced point and isn't quite as sexy a headline," he said. "I should know better. Lesson learned. Sometimes it is truly better to say nothing at all."

Electronic Arts sued Zynga last year, claiming The Ville was a Sims Social clone. Zynga countersued shortly after, calling EA's suit baseless. The legal battle ended last month, when both sides agreed to a settlement. Terms of the deal are not known, though Zynga was reportedly "pleased" with the results.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

70 comments
TwilightPhoenix
TwilightPhoenix

Which came first?  The game or the game that was derived from a game?  If all games are derived from other games, then how did we get the original game?

Nitpicking aside, at least Zynga is being honest they can't come up with their own ideas.  But then again, as they said, they're not smarter than their competition.

LesserAngel
LesserAngel

There's a difference between taking inspiration for a game, and completely ripping it off.

moviequest14
moviequest14

It comes down to this , if you're a game company.. you have 2 motives , 1. Make money 2. Make games you want to play and you think people will enjoy. ; don't always have or ''need'' both but both are necessary for a really good company. Whether it's morally or creatively good or bad for you to replicate other games or not , you shouldn't WANT to replicate the competition as close as possible. You should be so enthusiastic about making games that you aren't even looking at the competition because you have so many ideas you want to get out. Look at some of the most popular games this generation...Uncharted , Assassin's Creed , Gears of War , Journey , Portal , Arkham City.... all of these have borrowed some elements , but they're still entirely their own thing. The fact Zynga not only copies other games , copies the same formula for all of their games , but is so bold as to talk about how fine it is. Shows they're just in it for the money.

franzito
franzito

Not only all games are derived from other games but also movies, books, songs and so on. We live to copy.

(But that doesn't mean I support Zynga, UGH!)

SeAzhrei
SeAzhrei

"But I also know that is a nuanced point and isn't quite as sexy a headline," he said. "I should know better. Lesson learned. Sometimes it is truly better to say nothing at all."

That's right bro. You're taking the HIGH road in this discussion. Still he has one point. If you have no argument, don't open your mouth! Lesson learned. lol

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

My new game is called War Boats, and I have 2 things to say about it:

1. It is similar, but not exactly the same as Battleship.

2. Battleship was "derived" from another game called Maritime Conflict Yachts.

After the digital release be on the look out for War Boats: The Board Game which is even more not exactly the same as Battleship. Get ready to say "You capsized my War Boat!"

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

The difference between your game being "derived" from another game and what you ACTUALLY did is that The Ville looks like an EXACT CLONE of The Sims Social.

Perhaps if you made a similar game that didn't look like the exact same thing they wouldn't have cared.

rayzter1
rayzter1

I don't play Zynga games but I believe that if someone can take something and do it better, then they should. Its like myspace to Facebook. In the long run the person who can do it best gains the $$ and the gamers benefit from this. 

P.S Zynga doesn't make their games better they are pretty shitty.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Just die already Zynga.  You provide no value to the world.

elanbg
elanbg

It's funny how he says: "Before making Draw Something we ..." . They did not make Draw Something, they've bought the ready game. So typical publisher view of the creativity process that apparently does not exist in his company.

No wonder EA was picking a bone with them. They probably still can't agree on which is the worst gaming company.

fbgbdk4
fbgbdk4

The best service Zynga could provide is to die.

Saketume
Saketume

The Ville

DeVille

Devil

..I have my own fun :+J

drswank
drswank

Gag me. Zynga is the lowest of low.

Daian
Daian

I really hope one day soon Zynga will return to burn in the infernal flames that spawned it.

pal_080
pal_080

What is meant by "Games as a service"...?  Does this just mean when you buy it, it's not the complete product, because they are still going to "service" you,  presumably with extra content at a price....?

Sorciere_basic
Sorciere_basic

Dear Zynga, I wish to kindly ask that you fuck off and die and stop ruining the game industry. Thank you and best wishes.

Your friend,

Gamer

Pie_FOREVER
Pie_FOREVER

One of the worst companies ever founded. They are the equivalent of the Chinese rip off artists that steal every product in America and worldwide, regardless of copyright laws.

soulless4now
soulless4now

There's a difference between being influenced by a game and down right copying it...

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

True, like all forms of art, almost anything new is a permutation and/or combination of previous works.

However, like in the art world, there are shameless rip-off artists, that do nothing but ape others' work.  

Maybe we can substitute the name Zynga for the word copy from now on, because they seem to mean the same thing.

Gen007
Gen007

There's inspired by or borrowed from and improved apon ect. This is like mentioning while using proper citation. What zynga does is plain ol thievery and is akin to straight word for word plagiarism. There is a huge difference.

Unholy123
Unholy123

what the... come on livefrye stop deleting my posts...

Gah fine quick repeat of other post then. Zynga simply takes others ideas, throws 'ville' on the end its name, adds abunch of time gates with microtrasaction keys to get past them and calls it  a game.


This company is a leech

wexorian
wexorian

Zynga and originality Ahahahahah

decoy1978
decoy1978

I will concede the point that all video games are derivatives of earlier games. However with Zynga, they blatantly copy not only the mechanic, but the LOOK of the original game with added touch-ups. 

There have been dozens of FPS, hundreds of save the world RPG's, and plenty of racing games. But no company has outright copied the look of one game and pushed it out as their own until ZYNGA came along.

Its not a derivative but PLAGIARISM. You can copy an idea... you can sample a music, you can even use someone's moveset. But putting out ... THE VILLE when it is blantantly THE SIMS... well... what else do you want us to say...

firehawk998
firehawk998

Zynga as "VIDEO GAME COMPANY" is vastly overblown.

TrueGB
TrueGB

It's not the same at all. What most developers do is like what writers do: they write stories within a genre, and while the mechanics of the genre demand they follow certain rules, the stories and some key combat points are ultimately different. 

What Zynga did was basically take another writer's story and change the names. And they admitted it. And are proud of it.

a140lbstud
a140lbstud

Zynga: the only company that makes EA look like the "good guys."

TenraiSenshi
TenraiSenshi

"and running the as a service that people love."

*Pirate voice* Thar be a grammar mistake here matey. 

Quick, fix it and delete my comment before everyone notices. :P

Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

Porter would do best to just keep his mouth shut, as he says. He knows nothing of what he speaks. The key difference between other game developers and Zynga is that they are purely a money making machine. Porter may not realize this yet, but everyone is already aware that Zynga creates exact replicas of already popular game types simply to make money based on their popularity. I hope that eventually Zynga either gets sued hard or they lose so much profit, they fold/sell the company. It's a high hope, but it's possible.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Deriving does not mean taking a competing game and copying 90% of that game. What you are doing Zynga is blatantly stealing other games, rebranding them as your latest "ville" shovelware and then publishing the game.

torres_unix
torres_unix

Deriving and plagiarizing are two different concepts.  Zynga does not derive, they plagiarize.  Unlike ideas similar to Castle Wolfenstein vs Doom or Command and Conquer vs Age of Empires. 

edinko
edinko

" General manager at social game......" A HUGE mistake in  ine first sentence. Znga doesnt NOT make games. They make so called COW CLICKERS that means time wasters that have ony wallet draining and nickel and diming as the ONLY FEATURE and virtually nothing else and the so called gameplay is only about spamming your friends to joind the victim list (I think they call their victims customers which is quite cynical to begin with)

demondogx
demondogx

Get lost Zynga
Ofcourse concepts get copied a lot, but here is the thing, you try improve on it
You guys never improved anything
Zynga is where inspiration and creativity goes to die

toshineon
toshineon

Yeah, but there's a difference in making a games based on another and just straight out releasing the exact same games under different names.

Saladudo
Saladudo

This is the perfect forum to say this: Seth Macfarlane is an overrated aszhole

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

@Jedilink109 But.....but they slightly changed the art style that the characters were rendered in. What more can you ask for?

dsbrady
dsbrady

@elanbg I'm no fan of Zynga, but he's referring to when he was the CEO of OMGPOP (he joined Zynga when Zynga bought OMGPOP).