Kixeye CEO Will Harbin has responded to the legal claims brought against one of his employees by Zynga, claiming that the struggling FarmVille developer is "burning to the ground."

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Will Harbin co-founded Kixeye in 2007

Speaking to GamesBeat, Harbin accused Zynga of using its legal department to make money:

"Zynga is burning to the ground and bleeding top talent and instead of trying to fix the problems - better work environment and better products - they are resorting to the only profit centre that has ever really worked for them: their legal department. It is simply another case of Zynga vindictively persecuting a former employee as an individual."

Zynga has filed a lawsuit against Alan Patmore, a former employee who has since gone to work as Kixeye's vice president of product. The suit claims that Patmore stole 763 documents containing sensitive information about Zynga, and that Kixeye is using it to improve their business.

However, Harbin insists that is not the case, citing Zynga's on-going financial troubles as reason not to copy their business model:

"Given their financial situation it all feels pretty desperate. Our games have little in common with the ones that Zynga is known for. We make synchronous, combat strategy games. They make asynchronous cow clicking games. We have two of the top seven highest grossing games on Facebook. Why on earth would we want to emulate a business that has seen a 75 per cent decline in share price since their debut? According to their S1 their games average $.06 ARPDAU. Our games generate up to 20x that. You do the math."

Zynga is nevertheless insistent that Patmore stole information, going so far as to obtain a temporary restraining order on Patmore that prevents him from discussing any documents he might have. Jay Monahan, Zynga's deputy general counsel, told Game Industry International:

"Patmore does not dispute that he took 763 files from Zynga, which contained confidential game designs from teams around the company, and that he transferred those files to his computer at Kixeye where he's currently the VP of product."

Zynga is also fighting a copyright suit with Electronic Arts, over similarities between its game The Ville and EA's The Sims Social.