A lawsuit has accused Zynga of exploiting the insider knowledge of former EA executive John Schappert.
In a rundown of evidence comparing EA’s The Sims Social with Zynga’s The Ville, Business Insider published a snippet of EA’s suit which lists Schappert’s hire as evidence of Zynga’s shenanigans:
“In the spring and summer of 2011, when The Sims Social was in its final stages of development and EA was preparing its rollout, Zynga hired EA’s chief operating officer John Schappert to become Zynga’s chief operating officer. Mr Schappert was a 15-year veteran of EA. Mr Schappert was then the most senior executive responsible for EA’s online social gaming business. The online social gaming business reported directly to Mr Schappert, and he was directly responsible for designing and implementing EA’s competitive strategies in this market. As such, Mr Schappert had detailed, internal strategic plans and development related to EA’s effort to bring The Sims franchise to Facebook with The Sims Social.”
The lawsuit accuses Zynga of copyright infringement – a dance it has danced before to no avail, but nobody with EA’s muscle has pushed the issue before now.
Possibly coincidentally, in the wake of Zynga’s recent financial reporting and subsequent stock dump, a rumour broke that Schappert had been pulled off game development.
This counter-intuitive move makes a lot more sense in the context of the lawsuit than it did before; industry analyst called the rumour “idiotic”, as The Ville, the first game produced under Schappert’s command, is going great guns.