Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Scrabulous Voluntarily Withdraws from U.S. and Canadian Market

For most people following the space, you probably have heard that Scrabulous voluntarily withdrew from the U.S and Canadian market. However, they are still up and and running elsewhere in the world.

Hasbro, the North American licensee of the Scrabble IP (intellectual property) filed a copyright and trademark lawsuit against Scrabulous last week (July 24th), as well as issuing a DMCA takedown notice to Facebook.

As far as I'm aware, this is the first time a DMCA takedown notice being issued to Facebook, which is a significant move. Frankly, there's as much copyright violation on Facebook as there has been on Youtube. App developers appropriate IP constantly, whether it's borrowing images from Winnie the Pooh to send as gifts, or building an app around a full-on Nintendo classic game emulator. Having said that, I doubt we'll see on onslaught of takedown notices. Right now, small developers don't earn enough money to be worth the lawsuit. however, once Disney and Nintendo decide to enter the social app space, if they ever do, then I'd hate to be the guy who build my business on their IP. Especially on Disney's IP, they are notoriously hard-nosed about protecting their IP.

ADDENDUM: Hasbro issued the initial takedown notice on January 16th. They also issued a takedown notice for Bogglific, a Boggle clone, which was promptly taken down. It appears Facebook took no action regarding the takedown notice.

Now We Can Find Out Who Plays Social Games

One of the core questions I've had about the social games space is who plays them. Is it mostly North Americans or mostly the rest of the world? This question matters a lot if you monetize via advertising. North American (and British) eyeballs are worth significantly more than those of the rest of the world.

Since Scrabulous is only withdrawing their North American presence, any users their game retains will be from elsewhere. Whether or not Scrabulous is a proxy for all social games will be something I'll explore in a week or two, once the difference between their current DAU and the future DAU is clear.

For those of you keeping track: the DAU as of yesterday: 438,000. Check back next week, and we'll see how they did.