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There are plenty of cheap knock-offs on the iOS store. There's a clone of StarCraft, League of Legends, Call of Duty - you name it, there's an original copy of it. But usually, these soulless photocopies are made by no-name developers, and usually it's a small company ripping off a big company (or it's Capcom not realizing it was publishing a 'Splosion Man rip-off). That's what makes Dream Heights, which looks like a blatant, unabashed, shameless rip-off of NimbleBit's Tiny Tower, all the more shocking.
The three-person NimbleBit posted a long, friendly message to Zynga comparing the two games, which we've posted below. The similarities aren't so much "similar" as they are "exactly the freaking same oh god how did they think they would get away with this."
Seriously, it's the same game. The only difference is the art, which replaces NimbleBit's cutesy 8-bit style with a more typical (see, higher-budget) style that adds absolutely nothing. Right now it's only available in Canada, though we're assuming that if it does well (and if they copied Tiny Tower, it will), it will make its way down to the US and over the pond to the UK.
But we haven't gotten to the worst part.
As TechCrunch pointed out, Zynga tried to acquire NimbleBit after Tiny Tower's huge success. NimbleBit co-founder David Marsh posted on Twitter "Even when you refuse to go work for Zynga, sometimes you end up doing work for Zynga anyway." Ian March, another co-founder, also said that "If you peek inside the app binary the project is named Towerville and inhabitants are named zitizens," hinting that this was, at one point, meant to be the Zynga-fied Tiny Tower.
If this ends up being as blatant as it seems - and we're having a problem seeing how it couldn't be - we'd be more than a little shocked. We've reached out to Zynga for a response, and we'll be sure to keep you updated on this interesting story.