Scrabulous Shuts Itself Down On Facebook

from the too-bad dept

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Following Hasbro’s decision to finally actually sue over Scrabulous (though, of course, it waited until it had its own competing game first), the guys behind Scrabulous have shut off access to the game on Facebook for users in the US and Canada. Outside of those countries you can still play it — or you can go directly to the Scrabulous website itself. Or, of course, you can go use Hasbro’s version of Scrabble, though, as the report notes, it doesn’t seem to be working very well. And, without any competition, Hasbro doesn’t have that much incentive to make sure it gets much better.

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Comments on “Scrabulous Shuts Itself Down On Facebook”

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23 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Wow

They waited until they had their own online version? Couldn’t it be argued that Scrabulous had the original idea of making the game online/electronic, and that Hasbro (although they invented the tactile board game) is infringing on what Scrabulous developed? It seems like a jerk move to set up a competing site and yell foul only once you’ve done that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wow

I remember something happened about an year ago. Hasbro threatened the same people, but somehow fell short of closing them down then.

Now, as they have got their own app, I think they are going all the way!

I didnt knew games could be copyrighted! Glad I spent my childhood in a remote country. I wanna go home 🙁

Willy (profile) says:

2.4m

Hasbro didn’t seem to care until they saw Scrabulous’ installed user base of 2.4 million. The makers of Scrabulous did a fantastic job of making a product that millions wanted.

Once all the hard work was done for them, Hasbro decided to move in and try to sweep up all those users for themselves and take advantage of someone elses vision and planning.

That was a really classless trash move by Hasbro. I hope no one subscribes to their game.

another mike says:

the pessimistic money's on...

The reason Hasbro had to leave Scrabulous up for so long is it took that much time to reverse engineer it. Of course, if they had done that, you’d think it’d work better.
Why didn’t Hasbro just buy out Scrabulous? They’d have gotten stable code, an existing fan base, and eliminated the competition in one fell swoop! Instead, they have committed themselves to building their product from scratch, err rebuilding since it is just Scrabble with internet added. And they still have to steal away Scrabulous’ customers, who aren’t pleased about being shafted.

cram says:

too bad

Too bad Scrabulous had to shut down for US users. But I don’t think Hasbro had a choice: if they hadn’t sued, it would have been a sign of tacitly allowing infringement, which could have led to bigger problems if Scrabulous had decided to sell offline versions of the game.

Buying out the company was not an option either, because that would have sent the wrong signal to other potential infringers.

A tricky situation that has been a lose-lose one for Hasbro: it has pissed off millions of game lovers, got lots of bad press and worst of all, not enough users are moving to their online version, yet.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: too bad

“Buying out the company was not an option either, because that would have sent the wrong signal to other potential infringers.”

I agree with most of your points, but I don’t buy that argument for a second. If Hasbro had bought out Scrabulous, they would have bought a working, very popular game with a strong community, probably for a discount price with a promise not to sue. Win-win situation for everybody there.

They could have then issued a warning to other developers planning to follow suit that further infringement would not be tolerated, and the legal dogs could be brought down on anyone who did – people would think twice after a couple of high-profile threats. They could then have worked with the Scrabulous developers to create similar apps both for other websites, and for other Hasbro games to try and get the jump on those developers, avoiding the gap in the market that led to the creation of Scrabulous.

Instead, they’re annoyed a large community of Scrabble players – many of whom were introduced to the game through Scrabulous to begin with. They’ve damaged their brand names, lost a huge number of potential customers and stunted further growth. In the process of “protecting their copyright”, they’ve damaged themselves far more than working with the infringing company could ever have done.

cram says:

hmm...

Hi PaulT

The Net is full of talk that apparently Hasbro did try a buyout but the brothers spoilt the show by asking for too much. But I don’t know if it is true.

Your argument does makes a lot of business sense. Suing for sure has not earned them any points, because ultimately it’s not a wise business decision. Technically they may be in the right, but as I said earlier, it has ended up as a lose-lose-lose situation for them.

Now that I think deeper about it, perhaps the fear of more infringers is unfounded after all. If Hasbro and Scrabulous had indeed joined hands, who in their right mind would think of building something that has to compete with Scrabulous and run the risk of Hasbro’s legal eagles?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Bill says:

This could have been avoided

All Hasbro had to do was make a version that wasn’t a piece of crap and everyone would have just switched to their version and all would be right in the land. Instead their application is a piece of shit so that is why people want Scrabulous back. I am not sure why they made the game as complex as it is, the reason Scrabulous was so popular was the simplicity. We don’t need stupid ass Flash animations and all that crap, just make a simple game that works, period!!!

DavidB (profile) says:

Techdirt, you are TOO funny! You blog in here repeatedly about copyright holders who don’t actually have a product, just a portfolio with which they conduct business by lawsuit. So here’s a company (Hasbro) that does the things you guys suggest should be done (get a product out there) and you beat them up for it? I don’t care how popular the infringing game was, and I’m not arguing for or against the merits of their claim, but Techdirt should get it’s story straight!

The Mad Patent Prosecutor says:

If someone set up a toll booth on your property, and was collecting money from all the cars that wanted to (and did) cut across your property, would you say “well, because I didn’t know there was a market for cars cutting across my property, that guy can keep the money”? Or, would you throw that person off your property, and consider whether you wanted to operate the toll booth, now that you knew there was a market?

If so, you are Hasbro, and Scrabulous was collecting money off your property.

Mary Jaekl says:

I'm with those who think Hasbro is shooting themselves in the foot - a toe at a time...

Had to respond to the Mad Patent Prosecutor. The lawsuit in question will be very interesting because you cannot copyright the rules of a game (see http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html).

In any case, it appears that many users are simply migrating to the email version of Scrabulous. Not as convenient, but it works – unlike the Hasbro version.

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