Zynga Bingo made its official beta debut on Thursday, after the company announced the game was in the pipeline last October. It’s the first product Zynga has released under the new Zynga Casino umbrella. Players can use up to six bingo cards at once, in various theme rooms, with other players in real time on Facebook. Zynga released a statement saying that it was, for the moment, “only letting a limited number of people into the game to make sure our players are getting a primo, Zynga Bingo experience, before officially open the floodgates.”
Zynga opened an entirely different kind of floodgate with its release of a new iOS game, Dream Heights, which observers have noticed bears a rather striking resemblance to last year’s iPhone Game of the Year, Tiny Tower. On Tuesday, Tiny Tower’s designers, NimbleBit, publicly called Zynga out over their sincerest form of flattery. Ian Marsh (@eeen), one of NimbleBit’s total three staffers, posted the image at the bottom of this article, summing up the company’s frustration.
It’s hardly the first time that Zynga has derived ‘inspiration’ from another company’s labor (read a synopsis of their ‘greatest hits’ here). Most of the time they’ve gotten away with it, except for the $7m Zynga paid Mob Wars creator David Maestria in 2009 for Zynga’s liberal use of his concept in their own Mafia Wars. In a San Francisco Weekly profile of Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, a former Zynga employee quoted Pincus’ alleged instructions to his programmers: ““I don’t want fucking innovation… Just copy what [Zynga’s competitors] do and do it until you get their numbers.”
Speaking of numbers, Zynga is scheduled to release its Q4 and FY 2011 results (the first since its December IPO) via webcast on Feb. 14. The company recently admitted it was having “active conversations” with potential partners to enter into a real-money online gambling venture. It’s probably a good thing poker is already in the public domain, not that potentially infringing on someone else’s turf would necessarily deter Zynga. Forbes’ contributor Paul Tassi called Zynga “a creatively, and I would argue morally, bankrupt company, and the sooner investors realize this, the faster they can fade from prominence.”