In an exclusive interview with GameBeat, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus denied accusations that it copied a rival developer's Facebook Bingo game, but also said that social game developers refine and improve game concepts on the market to create the best products.
Over the weekend Santa Monica, California-based Buffalo Studios claimed that the upcoming Zynga Bingo was a cheap knock-off of its Bingo Blitz game, which already has a million daily players on Facebook.
Pincus called out the side-by-side comparison shots that circulated around the Internet earlier this week saying, "it was a little ironic to look at Bingo Blitz. Pull that lens back. Look at our game Poker Blitz, and then Bingo Blitz, you see striking similarities in those pictures."
"You can go back to (Zynga’s) FarmVille. Look at Farm Town and say, ‘Those pictures are troubling. They look too similar,'" he continued. "But you pull the lens back again, and you see Farm Town next to My Farm, and next to Happy Farm, and next to (Zynga’s) YoVille. What you see is a series of games innovating on top of each other. You see Farm Town had a very similar avatar to YoVille."
"We think there is a massive body of work in the video game industry that is going to be reimagined for decades to come in a way that is free, accessible and social," Pincus said. "That’s what we’re doing. I don’t think anyone should be surprised when they see us come out with games that they’ve seen before, a decade or more ago. I don’t think there are a lot of totally new games that are invented. We always try. But to us, they are like the crew mechanic in our games. They give you a new way to interact with your friends."
In a nutshell, Pincus is saying (without saying it directly) is that the very nature of social game development is a continual dance of copying other people's ideas and refining them. To someone who comes up with an original idea that has been "copied" and "refined," it probably sounds more like theft.
“I think people in the industry are defining innovation different from the way we are,” he said. “When you define innovation, you have to define what problem are you innovating against. The problem we are innovating against is how do we get a billion people to play together. That’s what we want to solve for. We need to innovate as an industry to make that happen. That’s a worthy goal. I think we are innovating as an industry and Zynga is contributing massively to it on many, many fronts.”
You can read the entire Pincus exchange at GameBeat. Pincus also provided GamesBeat with a memo sent to company employees earlier in the week, which is also worth checking out.