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Zynga’s cloning protection racket

By on January 25, 2012

Zynga has just launched a game Dream Heights which is a direct clone of Tiny Tower from independent developers Nimblebit.

Tiny Tower screenshot

Now it turns out that Nimblebit turned down an acquisition offer from Zynga.

For me, that puts the cloning in a different light. It’s not just shameless copying of creativity by a heartless corporation: it’s a punishment and a threat.

I can now imagine the approach from Zynga’s mergers and acquisition team to a small indie with an interesting game.

“Hi there, I represent Zynga. We’d like to buy your company for a knock-down rate. If you won’t accept our offer, we’ll just make an exact copy of your game and use our marketing muscle to kill you. And there’s nothing you can do about it because game mechanics can’t be copyrighted, and even if you try to sue us, we’ve got more money and nastier lawyers than you do.”

Sound like anything else to you?

“Have you considered fire insurance? Very flammable, these Chicago businesses in the 1920s”

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: