RealNetworks spurns Scrabulous, brings legal Scrabble to Facebook

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Last time we checked, RealNetworks – the body that owns legit Scrabble licenses from Hasbro and Mattel – was negotiating to buy the absurdly popular Scrabulous Facebook minigame. Despite having the potential for offering RealNetworks a serious leg up in the world of social network gaming, it seems the deal fell through (some say the creators, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, wanted a bit too much dosh for it). So RealNetworks has abandoned the idea and launched a whole new version of Scrabble instead.

Excitingly named ‘Scrabble by Mattel’, the new game is now a direct rival to Scrabulous’ market. The problem with this strategy is that Scrabulous already has 600,000 daily players who have no need for another nearly identical version and anyone new to the notion will most likely want the same version as their mates.

Subsequently, Scrabble by Mattel currently has less than 2,000 daily players, but at least you now have the choice of supporting a legit version should you so choose. We shouldn’t judge it too harshly yet though as it is still in a bet a phase.

One thing that is a bit of a pain for North American players is that because Hasbro owns the rights to Scrabble in US and Canada, users across the pond technically aren’t allowed to play the Mattel version. What a bloody joke. Fortunately no one’s looking too closely at your real location when you sign up.

Going up against the popularity of Scrabulous seems like a silly move and although player numbers will no doubt increase from here, it is never ever going to be able to knock its rival from its top spot. However, assuming that Scrabble is not the only boardgame RealNetworks has the rights to, this could be an excellent springboard from which to launch other social networking games from. It’s gotta be Cluedo next, right?

RealNetworks (via NYTimes)

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