EA has filed a lawsuit against Zynga, alleging that the latter lifted wholesale from its Sims Social game when it created The Ville.

That The Ville ripped off The Sims Social was “unmistakable”, said Maxis’ general manager Lucy Bradshaw.

“The similarities go well beyond any superficial resemblance. Zynga's design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions have been directly lifted from The Sims Social. The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable.”

With the lawsuit, EA hoped to send a message to other copycats within the industry and stand up on behalf of those that lacked the finances to pursue such things themselves, said Bradshaw.

“This is a case of principle. Maxis isn't the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it.

“Infringing a developer's copyright is not an acceptable practice in game development. By calling Zynga out on this illegal practice, we hope to have a secondary effect of protecting the rights of other creative studios who don't have the resources to protect themselves.”

This was personal and emotional, she added.

“As a longstanding game developer, I know what it feels like to pour your heart and soul into creating something unique and special for your fans to enjoy. Today, we hope to be taking a stand that helps the industry protect the value of original creative works and those that work tirelessly to create them.”

Reggie Davis, general counsel for Zynga, responded to the lawsuit this morning.

"It's unfortunate that EA thought that this was an appropriate response to our game, and clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of basic copyright principles. It's also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga's CityVille game. Nonetheless, we plan to defend our rights to the fullest extent possible and intend to win with players."

EA released several video examples of what it considers to be plagiarism by Zynga.

We’ll have more as this story develops.