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August 26, 2008 / davebirss

Scrabulous is dead

Why, oh why, oh why, oh why do businesses see web stuff as a threat? Why do they think they have to ‘own’ something? Why do they think that all their old rules apply in internet-ville? Well? I’ll tell you why. It’s because they’re small-minded idiots who are so wrapped up in their archaic definition of what their market is that they don’t know an opportunity when it bites them in the arse.

The Scrabulous debacle is such an amazing example of corporate stupidity. The Scrabulous application reignited public passion for Scrabble (it resulted in Lea and I buying a board to play offline, anyway). But Hasbro and Mattel (the two owners of the game’s rights) went on the attack against the creators of Scrabulous. They wanted to wipe it off the face of the planet so that Facebook users would play their own proprietary versions of the game instead. Why would anyone in their right mind do that? Scrabulous had an astonishing large userbase for a Facebook app. Surely the sensible thing would be to work with the Scrabulous dudes to help them grow their userbase further, turn it into an opportunity to increase sales and even create merchandising opportunities like personalised boards, T-shirts with slogans made up of Scrabble letters or a book with hints and tips for passionate Scrabulous users.

There are so many ways that these games manufacturers could have turned this disaster into an opportunity. But instead they followed the music business’ approach and shot themselves in the foot.

Read more about it on The Guardian site.


Leave a Comment
  1. Nathan McDonald / Aug 27 2008 2:25 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. What’s more, they have even made it worse, they now have two versions of FB Scrabble, one for the US and Canada, and one for the rest of the world! Mattel, Hasbro: FAIL! Go back to HTML 1.0 and start again…

  2. davebirss / Aug 27 2008 2:41 pm


    As you can probably tell, this one really got me going!

    I’m now planning a post on how ‘owning’ a property is sooooo yesterday. Giving stuff away is the new ownership. That’s how you succeed in webland. And I hope I’m right because that’s one of the core beliefs of Unchained!

  3. Damien Parsonage / Aug 28 2008 3:55 pm

    Dave I am so with you on this one. It has absolutely incensed me. Scrabulous was fabulous – easily the best thing on Facebook. It reignited my love of Scrabble, which I hadn’t played for years. And, like you, I also went out and bought a set to play offline.

    So what’s their bleeding problem? Their own version, from what I’ve heard, is rubbish, and I certainly won’t be playing it just out of principle now. What a bunch of utter idiots. Here’s a great game, probably forgotten by most people, that suddenly gets itself on the map again. What great publicity! And I’m sure there are lots of us who’ve either dug out our old games or bought new ones on the back of it.

    Instead of revelling in this renaissance, they’ve just come across as uncool, corporate bullies who I want nothing to do with. Well done Hasbro and Mattel! You’ve played a great game there. Twats!

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