new world madness befuddles monocle-donning company

NY Times:  Online Scrabble Craze Leaves Game Sellers at Loss for Words.   Wow, two Indian programmers are raking in $25,000/month in advertising from Scrabbulous.     I need to launch my facebook app as soon as possible.  Zampire Tile Game v2.0 here we come.

This is a classic story of a small entity finding an easy-to-use, convenient outlet for someone else’s content (see also Napster, YouTube).   Scrabbulous was simply presented, and fit well within the Facebook system.  It tracked game stats, and allowed you to challenge your existing friends.  It really is amazing to me how many people who wouldn’t touch a wooden Scrabble board with a ten foot nerd pole have 17 games of Scrabbulous going at once in Facebook.

As for the legal issues, there are two separate legal rights Hasbro could claim: trademark and copyright.   Hasbro could probably nail them under trademark law for naming themselves “Scrabbulous”, which is likely to confuse the average consumer blah blah blah.  Copyright infringement of the game rules and the board’s look and feel is a whole other question, not to be touched here because I got a B in that class.

Big picture-wise, is this actually harming Hasbro’s market for wooden board games?  Absolutely not.  The enriching experience of in-person board games is completely separate from the online meandering of those darn Millenials.  (Although you could argue that this harmed Hasbro’s right to exclusively license their online Scrabble rights to a software company, like, here, Real Networks, which has an astounding history of creating beloved, well-designed, user-friendly malware.)   If anything, this just made Hasbro more relevant to a new generation.  They’ll just have to tolerate the occasional snotwad saying something like: “Oooh! This is game is just like Scrabbulous but in-person and with wooden pieces.” 

One Comment

  • Jenny Says:

    I read this yesterday. I want to know how many games it’s sold since it got popular. That would be truly staggering.

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