Scrabulous vs Hasbro

It’s been a couple of years since I received my Cease and Desist order to take my ASP version of Magic 8 Ball off the web. It was a tiny app, but I was quite shocked that that Mattel’s stance is to kill anything similar to the product they hold the copyright for rather than using it as a vehicle to increase the popularity of their products. The memory though, is quite fresh in my mind, and what brought it all back was seeing the struggle between Scabulous and Hasbro for exactly the same reasons.

Scrabulous is an extremely popular version of Scrabble running on Facebook and after 6 months of phenomenal growth, Hasbro has requested that the game is removed because of breach of copyright. Mashable suggests today that it’s been removed, but it could simply be an application glitch at this stage. I’m not denying that Hasbro own the rights to the game, but there are so many win-win scenarios they could spin from this situation that they are totally killing with this action.

It still amazes me though, how, instead of embracing change and using Scabulous as a way to augment sales of their board game and increase visibility of their products, Hasbro is instead stamping down on it. It wouldn’t be hard for an avid developer to capture the segment of people playing Scabulous with a similarly involving game .. one that Hasbro don’t have rights over .. and that would be the beginning of the end for Scrabble and the rise of a new community-based game. Facebook has indeed made many things possible and provides an excellent platform for this sort of social game.

What are your thoughts .. do you think Hasbro is doing the right thing?


  1. This seem to remind me of the downloading music argument. I think Hasbro would have done better to license it to them, and maybe done a deal on advertising. It is incredible short-sighted of them. I imagine it is fairly typical of older director/executives not really understanding the market.

  2. I totally agree that it is right..But to be honest I am not sure that I completely understood the market..

  3. I think the problem is more profound than you state.

    – It is hard to monetize on a Facebook application.

    – The Facebook Scrabulous application distorts the Scrabble brand.

    – The Facebook application augments the Scrabulous website. Even if Hasbro were to own that site it is not for certain if multiple users would be willing to pay for online Scrabble.

    Generally, however, I agree that if Hasbro developed an all out online strategy they could really grow the already huge scrabble community.

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