Tiny Tower Rips Off A Flash Game — and Electronic Arts

Tiny Tower Rips Off A Flash Game — and Electronic Arts

Earlier today, the makers of mobile gaming blockbuster Tiny Tower published the kind of open letter loved by video gaming’s instantly and constantly angry fuck-the-man constituency, not least because it can be disseminated by imgur. It alleged that Zynga, the popularly despised maker of Facebook McGames, stole Tiny Tower‘s idea and was reaping a dishonest profit from it.

On its face, yeah, it seems like developer NimbleBit has a complaint: Zynga’s Dream Heights definitely isn’t original game design. But is Tiny Tower‘s, really?

The maker of Corporation Inc., a very popular title hosted by armour Games, implies that NimbleBit’s jackpot moneymaker wasn’t exactly divinely inspired, either. Nor, admittedly, was Corporation Inc.. The difference is, Corporation Inc. acknowledged its heritage in its credits — and it comes from a title published by that indie outfit Electronic Arts.

But why is this even an issue? Copying isn’t theft, remember?



  • “But why is this even an issue? Copying isn’t theft, remember?”

    But it is illegal and immoral, remember?

  • Note: Don’t let the same people that format the Sunday comics do the formatting for articles.

    Just sayin.

    You can steal ideas from other game designers for your game, you can even steal ideas from other companies for your hardware (hey Steve Jobs, hot down there?) but if you post 2 minutes of the Fall of Hitler your a fucking pirate and it gets taken down.

    Fuck you corporate America. Fuck you in the arse!

    • The formatting issues have been around for months now, ever since the site redesign.

      Last Sunday comics actually fixed the formatting and for a brief moment, the world was in perfect harmony. Until the next article with images was back to the old, bad formatting. It wouldn’t be such a problem if all articles had links to the source material.

  • Not to call this claim absurd, but it definitely smudges the meanings of “inspiration” and “originality.” If you look at the chain of titles proposed here, you’ll notice differences in each iteration of the tower game concept.

    SimTower is about customizing the contents and layout of a multipurpose building to keep tenants happy and productive; the player doesn’t create tenants nor manage their individual needs at all, just modifies the tower.

    Corporation Inc. is similar in that you manage a building, but it involves more direct manipulation over the type and distribution of workers in the tower.

    TinyTower maintains that element of tenant management, but mixes up the tower concept by having themed floors with different strategic advantages for mix-and-matching tenants.

    Each of these presents the tower concept with different goals, controls, and systems, not just a graphical overhaul. Dream Heights does not. What we can gather from the images is that Dream Heights presents the same situations, goals, mechanics, and even controls of Tiny Tower, just with a new coat of paint. While there would be an adjustment period for a player switching between the three previously mentioned games, a player who switched from Tiny Tower to Dream Heights would apparently have zero lag, being competent playing Dream Heights because it is identical in so many respects.

    The issue of immorality is still on the table. The issue of illegality may still be on the table (though it looks to be dead). The issue of which games “inspired” the others and which game “copied” another is apparent to anyone with eyes, an understanding of English, and common sense.

  • People need to come to terms with the fact that everything has been done before and that nothing is purely original anymore. All you need to do is make a game that exceeds the others in some way. If someone else’s game threatens yours rather than bitch about it, put that energy into trying to improve your own game.

  • If you want to call nimblebits copying someone else’s work, maybe thats true…

    But you people do realize that zynga most famous farmstupidville is a “direct” copy of some other game?

    “inspired” and “copy” is two different thing.

  • If you read the whole letter he points out that many of these hit App games seem to be inspired by free Flash games.

    Does that mean somebody at companies like whoever makes Angry Birds have somebody playing Flash games all day for Inspiration. That being said Saints Row & GTA:San Andreas where developed in parallel and turned out being quite similar.

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