Online Nostalgia

Posted on July 29, 2008


If you’re living in my world, you’re well aware that last week Hasbro sued Scrabulous and today, the game was removed from Facebook in the US and Canada.  There’s so much swirl about this news that it’s impossible to keep up.  You would think it was bigger than the earthquakes in LA (or at least just as important) if you’re following Twitter streams.  (Note to Mom – NTM: Yes, I’ll explain Scrabulous, Facebook and Twitter.  All very soon). 

Facebookers everywhere are up in arms and marketing experts are calling foul on Hasbro.  I can’t say I’m going to cry over the news, but I wasn’t really all that into Scrabulous like a lot of my friends.  Seriously, if there was one game this fun and addicting, there will be another.  As for me?  I’m more of an actual board game kind of girl (addiction to Bejeweled during the workday aside).

The real question remains: should Hasbro just let Scrabulous exist and acknowledge that it builds awareness and brings a new audience to a 60 year old game?   It’s tricky.  What they tried instead was building a legal online Scrabble version with EA.   I think this is where Hasbro really failed.  I’d argue that GenXYZers (probably the majority of Scrabulous players) are more savvy than previous generations when it comes to marketers that try to pull the wool over their eyes.  It’s my generation that always seems to be blaming someone for false advertising (usually incorrectly) or blogging/tweeting and spreading bad WOM about companies that participate in shady marketing and advertising practices.  We also equally hate smaller players that sell out to the big guys (though for some reason YouTube got away with this unharmed) and would much rather be on the cutting edge of something “unknown.” 

If anything, it probably would’ve been a better call for Hasbro to ink a deal with Scrabulous behind the scenes – let users go on happily challenging eachother and make some money from an agreement on the side.  Everyone wins, right?  Back to my post about free online TV, sometimes giving things away for free (or in this case, letting someone else give it away to consumers) builds a bigger fan base than paid or otherwise company-sponsored content could ever hope to build.  I don’t have the magic answer for Hasbro, but they’ve certainly caused a stir among GenXYZ.

Final prediction?  My generation will be more nostalgic about Scrabulous than they’ll ever be about the board game.


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