Scrabulous, copyright and Facebook

This news is everywhere to those who love wordgames, Facebook and copyright infringement. Yes, I’m sure someone loves copyright infringement. Scrabulous, the incredibly popular Facebook game that played an awful lot like an online game of Scrabble, if off Facebook for North American users. Speculation runs rampant that it’s down because Hasbro (its IP owner since the ’80s) just debuted its own Scrabulous inspired Facebook Scrabble game, thanks to a partnership with EA Games.

Why is this news? The new marketplace is about “if you don’t build it, your fanbase will.” Scrabulous was huge on Facebook (approximately 2.3 million users) because it played well (once the bugs were sorted out). It’s success was built purely from word of mouth (or in this case, word of the Facebook wall). Seeing this potential of losing possible revenue, Scrabble’s IP owner Hasbro decided to sue in a New York court. This lawsuit started back in January 2008, but only now the hammer has been dropped because EA’s version is online and available to North American users.

This has given Hasbro a whole lot of bad press. So much bad press that someone hacked the Hasbro Scrabble game. 

I used to play Scrabulous, so much so that I almost considered buying the Scrabble board game. I’m sure many other users gave money to Hasbro via Scrabulous. This will be interesting…