One of Zynga's higher ups recently indicated that the assertion that Zynga copies other games is pretty much true. Dan Porter, former CEO of OMGPOP and current VP of Mobile at Zynga, spoke at a panel in New York City last Wednesday. Quartz, an outlet covering the panel, had Porter saying this:
"Zynga is often accused of copying games, which is mostly true…"
There's a caveat with that quote, though. Porter suggests that it was taken out of context. He defends the stance in a blog post on the subject. According to Porter, all games come from other games. Here's his argument:
"What I actually said was that all games are derived from other games…that this has been happening long before Zynga, and that the debate about originality in games is vastly overblown and misses the mark. Before making Draw Something we ran OMGPOP for four years and made lots of games that were inspired by games we loved and we emulated the mechanics from games with great UI. This is no great revelation."
Porter, I'll grant you these two points. First, you're role at OMGPOP means that you weren't with Zynga for all those years of blatant ripoffs. Second, games are often inspired by other games. Heck, the best games in the world take major cues from properties that came before them.
However, Zynga has been blatantly involved in the wholesale copycatting of entire ideas. It's not just that they borrow successful mechanics from other titles, it's that they use the entire concept of the title and re-skin it. That's Zynga. They did it with Tiny Tower, remember?