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."

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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.

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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.

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