Tiny Tower Game Ruthlessly Copied by Zynga
Tiny Tower, if you’re not one of the only eight million who downloaded it, is a popular iPhone game developed by a three-man team at indie start-up NimbleBit. Dream Heights is an iPhone game launched in the last few days by Zynga and, true to form, is another stunning example of Zynga ripping off a competitor.
If you doubted Zynga was the last word in creatively bankrupt, lazy, ideas-free game development (hey, they said so themselves), Dream Heights closes the case. As in Tiny Tower, it asks players to add floors of shops and apartments to an ever-rising tower block. And, if you haven’t already noticed the screenshot comparisons around this page, the resemblance is uncanny. Not as uncanny as this, admittedly, but close. It’s pretty much a clone, gameplay-wise.
Of course, Zynga’s sheer power and wealth means it can afford killer lawyers, so nobody does a thing about their relentless copying of ideas. So what did the three little guys behind NimbleBit do? Simple: they wrote an open letter to Zynga and provoked INTERNET VIGILANTE JUSTICE.
NimbleBit’s full open letter (which you can see below) begins with the line, “Dear Zynga, (all 2,789 of you),” then continues:
“We noticed you are about to launch a new iPhone game called Dream Heights! Congratulations! We wanted to thank all you guys for being such big fans of our iPhone game of the year Tiny Tower! Good luck with your game, we are looking forward to inspiring you with our future games! Sincerely, (all 3 of us), NimbleBit.”
The letter features numerous screenshot comparisons that don’t look good for Zynga. It didn’t take long before this was posted to Reddit and dozens of sites and blogs.
But as great as that letter is, it’s not even the most interesting part of the story. NimbleBit co-founder David Marsh also revealed on his Twitter account that Zynga had previously attempted to buy NimbleBit out. When NimbleBit refused to sell up, Zynga simply copied their target’s prize game. As Marsh tweeted:
“Even when you refuse to go work for Zynga, sometimes you end up doing work for Zynga anyway. They did go the honest route and try to acquire us first.”
Burn. Here’s the full letter: