Mattel and Hasbro release their own Facebook Scrabble game

According to the New York Times Mattel and Hasbro who between them own the global rights to Scrabble have released their own version of Scrabble for Facebook, or rather got Gamehouse, a division of Real Networks to do it for them.

On top of Scrabulous’s 600,000 plays per day this is further evidence of value in Facebook Games, or at least that Hasbro and Mattel perceive there is value.

It is a shame then that they seem to have bungled the implementation somewhat and produced a poor game.

Scrabulous by contrast has been wonderfully done and generated a lot of loyalty and passion amongst it’s users:

Scrabulous’s popularity attracted the attention of Hasbro and Mattel earlier this year, and they threatened legal action to shut it down.  The game companies’ actions spurred tens of thousands of Scrabulous players to sign petitions and join online clubs supporting the unauthorized game, and many have pledged to stop buying Mattel and Hasbro products if the companies shut Scrabulous down.

  • From a social game publisher’s perspective this is significant as it will provide a good data point on how important a brands are versus product design / quality on a social network.

    Brands have always been important in video games. When forced to make a selection between a number of titles in a similar category in retail (digital or physical), consumers tend to choose something they recognize and trust. Brands have also helped by providing more marketing channels for the game launch and sometimes even allowed publishers to get away with second rate products and still be financially successful. Ownership of brands has also played a key role in entrenching the market shares of the big publishers of video games.

    But this all could be quite different for social games.

    For our first title “Who Has The Biggest Brain?” – currently the #6 Facebook game with 250,000+ daily unique players – 90%+ of distribution is viral. That means that the vast majority of our new players don’t choose the game from a catalogue – a friend sends it to them. So assuming you trust your friend it’s not clear whether you need a brand or any further marketing help in order to distribute your title. After all your friend either decides to invite you to play or not, and you either trust that invitation or not. So it’s unclear as to what difference it makes if the product is “branded” – only whether it’s fun enough to invite your friend to play.

    The great thing about the official Scrabble launch is that we’ll have two direct comparables on facebook. This should provide some clues as to the kind of companies are likely be successful in the social games market in the future. I will follow this with interest…

  • From a social game publisher’s perspective this is significant as it will provide a good data point on how important a brands are versus product design / quality on a social network.

    Brands have always been important in video games. When forced to make a selection between a number of titles in a similar category in retail (digital or physical), consumers tend to choose something they recognize and trust. Brands have also helped by providing more marketing channels for the game launch and sometimes even allowed publishers to get away with second rate products and still be financially successful. Ownership of brands has also played a key role in entrenching the market shares of the big publishers of video games.

    But this all could be quite different for social games.

    For our first title “Who Has The Biggest Brain?” – currently the #6 Facebook game with 250,000+ daily unique players – 90%+ of distribution is viral. That means that the vast majority of our new players don’t choose the game from a catalogue – a friend sends it to them. So assuming you trust your friend it’s not clear whether you need a brand or any further marketing help in order to distribute your title. After all your friend either decides to invite you to play or not, and you either trust that invitation or not. So it’s unclear as to what difference it makes if the product is “branded” – only whether it’s fun enough to invite your friend to play.

    The great thing about the official Scrabble launch is that we’ll have two direct comparables on facebook. This should provide some clues as to the kind of companies are likely be successful in the social games market in the future. I will follow this with interest…

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