Scrabble goes Web 2.0



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Post: Scrabble goes Web 2.0—Sort of / 18.02.2008




Scrabble goes Web 2.0—Sort of




I have a new obsession: Scrabulous. This free online game of Scrabble is entirely addictive (so beware), and the digitalization offers some key benefits that are nearly enough to turn a card-carrying board game lover away permanently.

Just imagine, a world in which you don’t have to keep up that annoying tally of the score or multiply for your triple-word scores-Scrabulous keeps a running total for you. And there is always a rogue Scrabble player who tries to play a questionable word (”Regioned,” the supposed past-tense of dividing an area into “regions” was one of my past attempts). Scrabulous nips those quasi-words in the bud with a pop-up “invalid word.”

Of course, if you are going to play Scrabulous, you better act quickly. Hasbro, the maker of the board game Scrabble, has sent the Scrabulous inventors a “cease and desist” order for copyright infringement. But Scrabulous has earned a bevy of supporters-more than 610,000 on Facebook alone; and “Save Scrabulous” groups are popping up all over the place. There is even a highly amusing satirical version of Fergie’s “Glamorous” in support of the game on YouTube.

No matter what happens to Scrabulous, this raises an important issue for Hasbro-why didn’t they think of this? This free, digital version of Scrabble is raking in a younger audience of players, and reviving those, like me, who enjoy conjuring up memories of the board game version but love the perks of online play. The Scrabulous inventors, India-based brothers Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, are now earning $25,000 a month from advertisers, a number that could easily increase with the popularity of the game.

Perhaps Hasbro would be best served to reach an agreement with the Agarwallas, since $19.95 for Hasbro’s online Scrabble Blast is just too much to pay when it’s available for free. Hasbro may just find it is better off getting on board with the freeware system, before users get off-board with Scrabble altogether.

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