Scrabble Goes Legit Outside North America


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For Beth Snow, Facebook is going the through the usual curve any brand new toy does.

When you first get it, you play with it all the time. In Facebook’s case that means adding friends and applications and messaging constantly throughout the day.

But while the excitement of discovering new friends can wane, and the constant status check slows, the site still has a huge magnet – Scrabulous.

Beth will play anywhere between 5 and 15 games simultaneously with friends, and admits “it’s pretty much the only reason I still go onto Facebook at this point.”

Many call it Scrabble, but Scrabulous is not Scrabble, it’s a very, very identical twin. They are exactly alike in game play and appearance, but there’s a catch – Scrabulous was created by Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, not Mattel or Hasbro, the rights holders.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months to try and get the Agarwallas to pull their game from Facebook, but with revenues reported at around $25 000 / month from the ads surrounding their application, the boys have been holding out for big bucks to remove their copycat game. The fact that Mattel owns global rights, while Hasbro holds them for North America has also confused the situation.

So the official gamers have given up – sort of. “If you can’t buy them, join them” is the mantra for Mattel, and a legit version of Scrabulous, Scrabble by Mattel, has hit Facebook as a beta release – but only for users outside the US and Canada, where Mattel holds the rights.

So the illegal word building continues for people like Beth, and with a balance of power at more than 500 000 Scrabulous users versus less than 2 000 for Scrabble by Mattel, it’s an uphill battle to get us to go legit.

“All the people I regularly play with are already set up to play Scrabulous and it seems like quite a hassle to move to a new system,“ says Snow.

Well, we did convince all our friends zombie biting super pokers, so all it will take is one person to go legit, once we’re given a chance, and the rest will follow.

catch the buzz … pass it on.

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on Wednesday, April 16, 2008

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