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Social gaming mob war breaks out: Zynga sues Playdom

Sooner or later, if you make gangster games, things are bound to get nasty.

Zynga has filed a lawsuit against its social gaming rival Playdom, which allegedly is misleading consumers in an ad in which it entices Zynga’s Mafia Wars customers to play Playdom’s own mob-related game, Mobsters.

Both are extremely popular games. Zynga’s has 2.5 million players on Facebook. In the lawsuit, Zynga alleges that Playdom has an online ad that entices Zynga players, saying “Like Mafia Wars?” in large print. The ad then suggests that the players sign up for Mobsters.

mobstersZynga is asking the court to force Playdom to take down the ads, pay damages, and run new ads that explain the differences between the games and the companies. Silicontap.com reported the lawsuit first.

Last week, Playdom hired Electronic Arts’ chief operating officer, John Pleasants, as its new chief executive. Zynga, founded in 2007, is the largest social gaming company on Facebook. Zynga and Playdom haven’t fought each other much because they were on different turf. Zynga rules on Facebook, while Playdom grew up on MySpace, where it still has eight of the top 25 games. But now Playdom has expanded into Facebook territory, and the mob war has spilled into the courtroom.

It seems like a fairly trivial lawsuit, but it comes on the eve of the Social Gaming Summit in San Francisco, where employees of the two companies are sure to cross paths. In fact, Zynga’s chief executive Mark Pincus is going to appear on a panel with Playdom cofounder and chief product officer Dan Yue. Tonight, Pincus declined to comment on the suit. Playdom also declined comment.

The lawsuit shows that even in the friendly expanding markets of social games, people take their business matters very seriously. Pretty soon, with a few more lawsuits, this segment of games will start to feel like the traditional console video game market. But these guys really ought to settle their scores in the streets.


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