Podzilla 1985

Friday, August 10, 2012

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Do you remember the first time you logged into Facebook to be bombarded with requests from some game called Farmville? Do you remember blasting it openly, only to try it secretly and play it like everyone else did?

For most people that is a brief lapse in judgment, and they quickly find nothing but shallow gaming beyond the simplicity and accessibility of the one time online gaming juggernaut.

But you can bet these days the company behind the hit wishes you would remember those innocent days of yore and forget all about the apocalypse that looms over the horizon.

Zynga has seen better days.

I've been in the debate the same as every other so called gamer. What kind of games makes a gamer a true gamer? Do you have to be familiar with the classics like Mario or Zelda? Do you have to have a twitchy finger and know the differences between a modern warfare and a black ops? Do you know what the hell a Forge is?

The term “gamer” is thrown around a lot. Anyone who plays a game is a gamer, right right? Not according to some guy on the internet. Don't you go prancing around the forums with your fancy Farmville hat. Or your Cityville...car. Don't tell anyone you live in the Ville, or....

Jesus Christ, do they make any games that don't have the fucking word “ville” in it?

My point is, playing Zynga games apparently doesn't make you a gamer. They're too casual. They're not real games, despite the fact you play them on your computer and they have graphics, sound, controls, and animation, albeit stiff and ugly ones.

So if playing them doesn't make you a gamer, what does it make you? Normal, apparently. I say that, because I think 90% of Facebook users have played a Zynga game at one time or another. With as many users and hits as they have under their belt, you'd think it would be smooth sailing and sunny days for the kings on their virtual thrones. But, much like the great empires of Rome, Atlantis, and...the Empire, all good things must come to an end.

And the end is coming at them hard and fast like the bullet from a guy hiding behind the jeep right in the middle of Nuketown. You know where I mean, there at the edge of the map in what is apparently a black hole that every fucking 10 year old I play with either forgets about or refuses to check because the asshole is sitting there going 20 and 0 because NO ONE WILL SHOOT AT HIM! STOP RUNNING FORWARD YOU MONKEYS!

Anyway.

EA is suing Zynga, alleging that their popular game The Ville is a ripoff of the Sims. Well you don't have to be Binoculous to realize that, it's the same damn concept. They don't even hide the “inspiration,” just boot the game up once and you can see the evidence for yourself. You might also save someones job.

Now, Zynga countered with a jab at the Godzilla (not 1985) of gaming companies, saying that Sim City ripped off Cityville. You know, despite the fact that Sim City was originally created before most of the people who play those crappy Facebook flash games were even born. I played the game on Super Nintendo originally, but I don't remember there being a Cityville Super NES edition with Bowser as an exclusive disaster.

This isn't the first time that Zynga has been accused of theft. I played Tiny Tower, which is a great iPhone game by Nimblebit, and I remember when Zynga used it as inspiration for its own title, Dream Heights. I let it go then, thinking it was probably coincidence. Really, really blatant coincidence.

I can tell you all about it, but seeing is believing. Forbes has made my job easier by putting together a great photo comparison of the various Zynga games and the titles they were “inspired” by that you can see right here - http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/08/08/a-photo-retrospective-of-the-games-developers-claim-zynga-has-cloned/

The bad news isn't even completely related to their lack of imagination and creativity.

At some point between Zynga's public offering in December and the doom and gloom of recent woes, the company began giving out stock to its employees to prevent a mass exodus from the company. What was everyone running away from? Good question. I don't have a definitive answer on that, but the stock option reminds me of the episode of Futurama where Zoidberg owned a majority of Planet Express because by that point the stock was worthless.

And the icing is that their COO John Schappert resigned just a couple of days ago. Funny enough, he was one of their prized acquisitions from Electronic Arts.

So what does this mean for Zynga? Maybe nothing. Sure, things look bad now, but big companies have a way of turning things around. Or, if nothing else, somehow surviving against all odds, much like Blockbuster and K-Mart.

So don't go getting your hopes up yet that the age of Facebook game notifications is over. Zynga isn't dead, though we all really, really hope they will be soon. But even if they are, there are hundreds of other companies ready to stake their claim on the Facebook map.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to send a mass request out for more Land Permits in Sim City Social. This town ain't gonna build itself, you know!
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