Breaking: EA and Zynga reach settlement in lawsuit surrounding The Ville

Inside Social Games has learned that Zynga and Electronic Arts have reached a settlement and are moving to dismiss the lawsuit that was filed last summer surrounding The Ville. The decision is now in the court’s hands.

At the moment, details are scarce about the settlement.

Zynga released the following statement this morning: “EA and Zynga have resolved their respective claims and have reached a settlement of their litigation in the Northern District of California.”

The lawsuit was originally filed against Zynga by EA in August 2012. Earlier that summer, Zynga launched its lifestyle sim game, The Ville, and garnered criticism from across the internet over the game’s similarities to EA’s own The Sims Social. At the time, EA claimed it was “standing up for the industry” with its lawsuit. We had a different take on the lawsuit.

Shortly afterward, Zynga countersued EA. The counter-suit alleged EA violated anti-trust laws and claimed the company had copied the visual style of CityVille with SimCity Social and actively tried to prevent Zynga from hiring employees away from EA. EA, for its part, called Zynga’s filing “a subterfuge aimed at diverting attention from Zynga’s persistent plagiarism of other artists and studios.”

Neither The Ville nor SimCity Social really paid off for their developers. Although The Ville saw high traffic levels when it launched, the numbers dropped dramatically in the months following its launch.

The game was no longer appearing on either of our lists of Top 25 Facebook games by December (though it dropped off the Top 25 Facebook games by DAU in October). SimCity Social, meanwhile, only appeared on the Top 25 Facebook games list in August before it also started to lose users, likely due to a lack of content after completing the main chapter-spanning quest surrounding a UFO crash.

The lawsuit has held the attention of both the press and game developers, primarily because it surrounded two of the biggest players in the games industry. Prior to this, there had been a similar lawsuit between SpryFox and 6waves (formerly 6waves Lolapps), where SpryFox accused 6waves of cloning its popular social game Triple Town with its own game, Yeti Town. That suit was settled in October after a judge denied 6waves’ request to dismiss the case, with SpryFox receiving ownership of the Yeti Town IP. Both of these cases would have set precedent when it came to video game law and what it could mean when a developer cloned (or “fast followed”) titles from other companies.