The developers of Tiny Tower shouldn't be surprised that Zynga blatantly copied their popular game. Zynga's in the business of game cloning. Their latest ripoff, Dream Heights, took its concept and design from Nimble Bits's iPhone game of the year, as Tiny Tower creator Ian Marsh pointed out last night, tweeting an image-by-image comparison of the two games (right). From the graphic alone, the Zynga game is a clear copy-cat, in both design and concept, both having something to do with a tall building. Alas, this isn't exactly a new strategy for the gaming company. It has a history of taking of copying its competitors.
Since its debut with Zynga Poker, the company hasn't put a premium on originality. Since then, it's had a healthy history of imitation, as with Words With Friends which borrows its idea from Scrabble and its online copy, Lexulous, formerly known as Scrabulous. In fact, Zynga even learned a thing or two from the Scrabulous creators, who got into legal trouble with Scrabble for their overly-derivative creation. Now Lexulous players use eight, instead of seven, tiles and the placement of the double and triple point spots don't follow the same pattern as a traditional Scrabble board. Zynga obviously took note of this, also arranging the placement of the bonus spots differently than Scrabble. Though, the game also uses seven tiles.
But Scrabble's not the only inspiration for Zynga. The popular "ville" games -- FarmVille, Cityville, etc. -- aren't exactly original either. CityVille looks and works a lot like the '90s favorite: SimCity. Both games ask the player to build a bustling metropolis. Farmville just takes that concept out to pasture. To Zynga's credit, it did have the genius, and original idea, to make these games social on a platform that mattered.
The latest thievery seems a bit more blatant, perhaps demonstrating the kind of bully the company has become since growing into a giant, now public company. Zynga apparently tried to acquire the makers of Tiny Towers before it lifted the design and concept. "Even when you refuse to go work for Zynga, sometimes you end up doing work for Zynga anyway," tweeted game creator David Marsh.