“Scrabulous is disabled for U.S. and Canadian users until further notice,” reads a message from Scrabulous’ makers to players on Facebook. The removal of the Scrabulous application follows the lawsuit from Hasbro, the company which own the distribution rights to the Scrabble board game, which Scrabulous very closely resembles.
Facebook has stated that it did not want to get involved in the case, and seems to have stood its ground. A Facebook spokesman stated that “We did not take the application down,” which means it must have been the Scrabulous developers themselves, although we can only guess at what legal pressures they were under to do so.
However, there’s nothing that the internet loves more than a big nasty corporation attempting to squash a cheeky but loveable young upstart with its mighty corporate boot. So it’s of absolutely no surprise that within hours, hackers had already screwed up the official Scrabble application on Facebook.
Electronic Arts is currently working to resolve the issue. Disappointingly, the attack has only rendered the service inoperable and does not make every single letter that players spell out a stomach-turning obscenity. Honestly, some people have no imagination (although I can imagine how very close to impossible such a prank might be – got to be worth a shot though, surely).
There’s currently no clear indication of what should happen next. Unfortunately, this could well be the end of Scrabulous’ reign in North America, and I suspect very few former Scrabulous players are going to jump on board with the company that put their game out of business.
Scrabulous was clearly stealing Scrabble’s idea – there’s no way around that. And yet, this still feels very much like betrayal. It still took EA Hasbro TWO YEARS to bring the ‘official’ game to Facebook and in that time, there can be no doubt that a few healthy rounds of online word gaming inspired people to go out and get the board game. That has therefore been to Hasbro’s advantage.
Outside NA, Scrabulous continues unabashed, however there was a lawsuit filed several months ago by Mattel, the other Scrabble distributor, which is still awaiting a decision from an Indian court. Perhaps recent events across the pond could spur the case on – by the looks of it, that won’t be a good thing.