Tuesday, July 08, 2008

members of the board

Last year I got totally sucked into playing Scrabulous on Facebook. I grew up playing Scrabble and like millions of others, found endless pleasure in the Facebook 'representation'. I use that word very deliberately, because we're fairly familiar by now with the story: Two guys in India make an unofficial Scrabble rip-off for Facebook. People get happy. Hasbro get pissed off.

Well Hasbro and Electronic Arts are about to release their official Facebook Scrabble now. So the lawyers must be getting ready behind the scenes (putting face paint on; donning brightly coloured, 'motifed' silk dressing gowns.. that kind of thing) before booting Scrabulous into touch.


I'm fascinated to see how this plays out. It will say a lot about people's loyalty and emotional connection to things/experiences. Do the people that play Scrabulous care that it's unofficial? No. Will they switch to the the official Scrabble unprompted? Probably not. Will they be angry if Scrabulous is removed - even if the official Scrabble version arrives the same day? Probably.

Many of the players (me included) have an emotional attachment to Scrabble from their youth. But is it the brand or the experience we love? When I played Scrabulous, as far as I was concerned, it was Scrabble. I imagine its new environment helped ease me into a 'different version' but my emotional attachment to the experience of playing moved effortlessly from board to screen. In fact, I probably couldn't have told you who made the original Scrabble anyway. As long as I could move tiles about and make words I was happy.

Another factor is the investment of time people have put into Scrabulous. Every game you play adds to your total score. And it record the number of Bingos (7-letter words) you have too. Here are my stats:


And I have 42 bingos. If I switched to Scrabble I'd lose all that.

How much will heritage matter when the switch is flicked? I have a feeling that Scrabulous's digital heritage will stand strong. I also imagine that two guys that made this thing in an apparently unassuming, nice way will look like saints next to the large organisation that didn't have the vision to see this opportunity themselves.

Via fimoculous

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Douglas Karr said...

The real crime here is that Mattel never had the ingenuity nor infrastructure to develop the game. It wasn't even on their radar until Scrabulous took off. Now that Scrabulous did the hard work and proved it a success, Mattel goes in and releases its own? That's terrible. They owe a lot of PR to Scrabulous!

6:35 pm  
Blogger Andy Whitlock said...

very true Douglas. Just played on the Scrabble version today. All bells and whistles..

5:57 pm  

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