In the battle for limited leisure time, traditional board games are falling behind the electronic gaming industry. Two brothers from Calcutta, India, are bridging the gap with Scrabulous, their online version of the classic word game Scrabble.
The game attracts 700,000 players a day, most via Facebook. Scrabulous has the familiar board full of double- and triple-word score spaces, and uses the same letter tiles with the same point value for each. There’s no time limit, and the game does forbid made-up words.
Screenshot of ScrabulousScrabulous is so similar to Scrabble that it’s prompted a lawsuit from toy giants Hasbro (which sells Scrabble in North America) and Mattel (which sells the game in the rest of the world). Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, the twentysomething inventors of the computer game, say they just wanted to play for free on their computers. They have been sued by Hasbro and Mattel.
Two video game companies, RealNetworks and Electronic Arts, are currently developing official versions of Scrabble for online play. And it appears Hasbro and Mattel may benefit even if Scrabulous is scrapped. A RealNetworks executive said his company is working to adapt the Agarwalla’s version of the game into theirs. The toy companies may also be learning from the music industry too. The Recording Industry Association of America has been battling illegal song downloads for years in what many see as a refusal to adjust to a new business model.
Hasbro and Mattel say they'll capitalize on Scrabble's 60th anniversary as a board game this year with new packaging and a folding version of the deluxe Scrabble board.