Zynga thinks of their games as inspirations from other games, like the similarities between Command and Conquer and Warcraft, or shooters like Quake and Unreal: games that came out at around the same time that built upon elements from each other.
Gaft questions the comparison. This excerpt reveals a lot:
Well, that’s the thing, though. With that example in particular, you’ve got “some of this” and you’ve got “some of that” and it’s got some new stuff thrown in. The games in question are games that are being accused of taking too much, and not adding enough.
Like Dream Heights — it’s being accused of not taking anything from anywhere else, that it’s not taking a little bit from there or a little bit from here or adding new stuff. A lot of people are seeing, “Hey, this is a reskinned Tiny Tower,” and I think that’s the difference, though, between the example you gave and what’s happening now.
[PR steered the conversation away from Dream Heights at this point.]