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Zynga Suing Site For Unauthorized Virtual Currency Sales
Zynga Suing Site For Unauthorized Virtual Currency Sales
April 14, 2010 | By Eric Caoili

April 14, 2010 | By Eric Caoili

Farmville developer Zynga filed a lawsuit against third-party, real-money-trading marketplace over the unauthorized sale of virtual currency/goods for Zynga games and the use of its copyrighted images.

In Zynga's free-to-play titles on Facebook, players earn in-game cash and digital goods through playing games, participating in offer-based ads, or spending real money through first-party options. The company's Terms of Service restricts players from selling virtual currencies or goods for real money to each other, and prohibits third-party services from selling them, too.

Zynga's lawsuit, which was filed with the California Central District Court last week, accuses of advertising and selling virtual currency/items for titles like Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Texas HoldEm Poker, and alleges that the service transfers those purchased goods within the games themselves using player-to-player trading features.

Furthermore, Zynga says the site sells those digital items and cash at "prices that are substantially lower than the prices paid by users who obtain their 'virtual currency' or 'virtual goods' from Zynga". With Texas HoldEm Poker, for example, players can buy 75,000 chips from Zynga for $5 or 1 million chips from for $5.45. sells in-game currency, power-leveling services, game guides, items/equipment, and even accounts for a number of popular MMOs, including World of Warcraft, Aion Online, EverQuest, Final Fantasy XI, and others -- all of which forbid the unauthorized third-party sale of these virtual goods and services.

The Farmville developer also says the site is using its trademarks and copyrighted images without permission to advertise the sale of the virtual currencies and goods, according to a report from the Los Angeles Intellectual Property Trademark Attorney Blog. The studio has asked for injunctive relief and is suing for damages in an amount Zynga hopes to prove at trial.

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scott stevens
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I'm not sure that I'm 100% aligned with everything that Zynga does, but I have to say I'm happy to see someone with the deep pockets of a company like Zynga go after a predatory site like Playerauctions. These companies typically employ fairly shady methods to acquire large amounts of virtual goods, and undercut the legitimate developer of these products.

Also, from a player perspective, it's just really, really annoying to continually get bombarded with "CheapWoWGold" ads while I'm trying to enjoy a game.

So to all my friends over at Zynga - good luck!

Tim Johnston
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Leeches. Instead of putting their time into creating, they put it into exploiting someone elses hard work. I dont know how these people sleep at night. What if a small percentage of every game sale or microtransaction went into a fund that would aid in both going after organized piracy rings as well as defend against these bottom feeders? As a small developer I can imagine that you feel relatively helpless if you dont have the cash in the bank to go after all these people.

Danny Pampel
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Actually, I think Zynga are more annoyed because they don't have a good market system in their game. If they were smart they'd allow in-game trading/selling to other players of your goods and take a cut like Apple do with iTunes (hey Zynga, back off, my idea! hehe). There are plenty of people that would buy collections etc from others.

I don't see playerauctions as leeches, just a company filling a gap in consumer demand. If people did not pay for these things, playerauctions would not need to exist.

ken sato
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I have to agree on this point, that having a strong market model in place as well as transactional framework is going to be critical for F2P titles as once real world finances become involved, everything gets more complicated and simpler at the same time.

On the other hand, speaking with a friend in corporate e-Commerce side, he pinged me on several offers he's had on moving over to the game development side. I can't help chuckling a bit as I remember my own migration from wearing a tie to work to the game industry. But I also have to smack myself in the forehead for not thinking of it first.

Jake Young
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Zynga suing over copyright infringement? ORLY?!?

Farmville-FarmTown anyone?