FOR THE WEEK OF APR 14, 2008
Scrabble F-U-N turns into F-I-G-H-T over Facebook version
The response by Mattel and Hasbro to Scrabulous illustrates marketplace competition. Find ads or news reports showing other forms of business rivalry.
Look at the paper for examples of how modern technology refreshes games, sports, entertainment or other parts of popular culture. What do we enjoy or use in a different way than our parents did, thanks to electronics or other advances?
As part of their broad and varied content, newspapers usually offer a few games, puzzles or other mental exercises. See if you can spot any -- and then try one.
Online video games aren't the only multiple-player diversion for competitors in distant cities, states, countries or continents. Scrabulous - an unauthorized version of Scrabble on Facebook since 2007 - attracts about 630,000 daily users and is among the top 10 most downloaded applications on the social network site. Inevitably, it now also draws the interest of two companies that make the board game introduced in 1938 and called Scrabble since 1948. They threaten legal action against the online rival, based in India.
One of those firms also sponsors "Scrabble by Mattel," an interactive application recently introduced on Facebook. Threats against Scrabulous from Mattel and Hasbro led tens of thousands of Internet players to sign petitions and join online groups backing the unsanctioned upstart, and many vow a boycott of Mattel and Hasbro products if the firms shut Scrabulous.
An industry consultant thinks the official game makers should welcome Scrabble's spreading popularity. "The brightest thing for more traditional companies is to work with these sorts of companies" like Scrabulous, comments Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association. "Young fans play on a platform they're accustomed to, and it's something that they can share with friends. Companies could be able to theoretically convert brand new customers, and people who might even go out and buy the board game who have played it on Facebook."
Company says: "Scrabulous infringes on Hasbro's trademark. . . We take this type of infringement seriously. . . . If we cannot come to [a solution] quickly, we will be forced to close down the site." -- Gary Serba, Hasbro spokesman
Player says: "It's a good opportunity for the makers of this brand to engage with us instead of pushing us away." -- Jason Madhosingh of New York, leader of a "Save Scrabulous" Facebook group
New online games: The two brothers in India who developed Scrabulous recently introduced a version of chess for Facebook and Wordscraper, a Scrabble-like game in which players make up their own board configuration.
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