Friday, August 1, 2008

Scrabulous did not relaunch as Wordscraper Despite What You May Have Read

The buzz around the blogosphere (today I'll use that evil term) is that Scrabulous, the Scrabble clone built by Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, was replaced by a brand new game called Wordscraper.

Except Wordscraper isn't new, it's been around since late February, and has had barely any traffic to speak of (under 1000 DAU) until today, due to a PR blast.  But hey, we bloggers aren't known for doing research.  Of course, neither are mainstream journalists.  To be fair, it's tough trying to be the first one to break a story, which is why I don't do it.

A lot of people are covering this story.  It'll be an interesting test of whether PR can create a hit from a game that could not grow on its own.  I don't think it will.  Rajat and Jayant are passionate about letting the game speak for itself, and have thus far, eschewed using the viral channels available on Facebook.  Unless they cahnge that philosophy, I think Wordscraper is doomed.  Beyond that, without any virality built into the game, I think even with viral channel use (or abuse) it still is unlikely to succeed.  Though I hope it does, I personally like Rajat and Jayant and want to see them succeed.  Even more, I'd like to see innovative game design rise to the top.

Some, like Erick Schonfeld of Techcrunch think it might have good chance of unseating the official version of Scrabble.  I think he's dead wrong.  

The official version of Scrabble already has 63,000 DAU, it'll keep growing.  The vast majority of people could care less what version of Scrabble they're playing, as long as they get to play Scrabble. However, I suspect the offical Scrabble Facebook app's growth isn't organic.  I would be astonished to find out that EA or Hasbro isn't spending a ton of money promoting it on Facebook.  They'd be stupid not to be.

The only question in my mind about the official Scrabble app is whether it can reach more than 500,000 daily active users ( a place Scrabulous was well-abovesince the beginning of the year).  I'll bet any of my readers, 100 dollars that the official Scrabble app won't even top 300,000 users by the end of September.  Any takers?