San Diego, CA-based independent iPhone game developer Nimblebit is accusing social games giant Zynga of ripping off its popular mobile title Tiny Tower.
Zynga last week launched on the Canadian App Store Dream Heights, a free-to-download tower-building game with in-app purchases that has clear similarities to summer 2011's Tiny Tower, which received Apple's 2011 iPhone Game of the Year.
"Clones" of games are a common occurrence on mobile platforms, but the Tiny Tower versus Dream Heights conflict has gained quick notoriety on the web due to the David and Goliath scenario of a massive public company allegedly copying the ideas of a three-person team.
Nimblebit's Ian Marsh got word out about the similarities between Dream Heights and Tiny Tower with an image that's still making the Twitter rounds. The image is made up of screenshots showing how Dream Heights' interface and gameplay mechanics appear strikingly similar to Tiny Tower's.
"We noticed you are about to launch a new iPhone game called Dream Heights! Congratulations!" reads the image, which was addressed to "all 2,789" of Zynga's employees. "We wanted to thank all of you guys for being such big fans of our iPhone game of the year, Tiny Tower!"
The sarcastic statement continues, "Good luck with your game, we are looking forward to inspiring you with our future games! Sincerely, (all 3 of us) -- Nimblebit."
Marsh also said on Twitter that Zynga "did try to go the honest route and try to acquire us first." He added that inside Dream Heights' app binary, the Zynga project "is named 'TowerVille' and its inhabitants are named zitizens" -- Tiny Tower's are called "bitizens."
Nimblebit and Zynga did not immediately reply to Gamasutra's requests for further comment.