Indie upset over Zynga's not-so-Tiny Tower

Tiny Tower is a ridiculously popular, ridiculously simple, ridiculously addictive game for iPhone, put together by a pair of brothers calling themselves Nimblebit.

In the game, you build a Tiny Tower (who’dathunk?), and then manage the businesses and “bitizens” who live there. Each business earns money, each tenant pays rent, and your empire continues to grow in bits and bytes even when your phone’s turned off.

Tiny Tower

Tiny Tower has currently received nearly 9,500 ratings on iTunes, with more than 7,000 of those awarding the free app 5/5 stars.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s just gamers who think Tiny Tower is a bit special.

Casual gaming giant Zynga has just launched a new mobile game, and while the retro pixel art direction’s been swapped for cutesy, big-headed cartoons, it doesn’t take long to realise that Dream Heights has taken more than just “inspiration” from the Nimblebit blockbuster.

Dream Heights

In the new Zynga release, you’re invited to build a skyscraper, add businesses and create cosy apartments for your in-game residents. Variety is thrown into the backgrounds, which let you see how your tower compares with tall real-world monuments such as the Empire State Building, but other elements of Tiny Tower (such as the ever-enjoyable BitBook which let you see what your bitizens were thinking) have been scrapped.

Happily, developer Nimblebit seems to be taking the issue in its stride, as shown by co-founder David Marsh’s tongue-in-cheek Twitter comment:

Even when you refuse to go work for Zynga, sometimes you end up doing work for Zynga anyway.

He’s referring to the fact that the software giant actually tried to acquire Nimblebit, but the feisty indie refused to be bought. Looks like Zynga got the game they wanted anyway.

Here’s the developer’s official response:

Dear Zynga

Dear Zynga (click to enlarge)

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