Tuesday, August 26, 2008

PR works!: Scrabulous/Scrabble/Wordscraper Update

So Scrabulous finally got bounced by Facebook from markets outside the U.S, as they were at end of last month from the U.S. The details are over at Inside Facebook.

If you recall, the Agarwalla Bros positioned their underperforming game, Wordscraper as a Scrabulous alternative. That was about 3 weeks ago. The move got a lot of press in the blogosphere and some mainstream press as well.

So did the PR pay off for Wordscraper? Here's the graph:

Answer: massively. Nearly 0 to 80,000 in a couple days. Since the growth has been flat.

Scrabble showed a nearly pattern of growth and flattening. I assume that it also benefit from the flurry of stories.

Of course, alternatively, the growth could be attributed to the sudden vacuum created by the loss of Scrabulous with players seeking other places for their word tile fix.

I'm sure it was a mix of both, however I do think the PR was crucial for drawing players to Wordscraper. Players would have found Scrabble anyway, I suspect.

So should I invest in PR?

Despite this Wordscraper example, probably not. It's an unique sets of circumstances. Other apps that have gotten blogosphere press haven't seen any traffic spikes at all (especially launch announcements). If your story isn't sufficiently interesting to attract mainstream press then don't bother. I tend to think of the blogosphere as a pathway to the mainstream press, often if a blog story is interesting enough, journalists will pick it up.

The death of Scrabulous is one of those stories. For people outside of tech or games (i.e. normal people), Scrabulous is the iconic social game. Mainly, I suspect, because you didn't have to explain what it was, everybody knows what Scrabble is. Try explaining Friends for Sale to someone who hasn't seen it before and you'll see what I mean.

In any case, I predicted that neither Wordscraper, nor Scrabble would ever reach the traffic that Scrabulous had. Judging by the lack of growth on both games, looks liek I'm right.