I've Got The Scrabulous Withdrawal Shakes
That surge of productivity employers are registering all across the nation this morning is the result of the sudden death of Scrabulous, the addictive Scrabble rip-off that was one of the most popular features on Facebook.
Scrabulous, which had a remarkable 2.3 million users, vanished from Facebook today, the result of a longstanding dispute between the game's Indian creators and the big boys at Hasbro, the toy and game giant that owns the original board game, Scrabble. Hasbro has long accused Scrabulous creators Rajat Agarwalla and Jayant Agarwalla of stealing their game and not paying for it, and there is apparent merit to the charge. But still, you'd think that given the recording industry's colossal failure at the strategy of siccing the lawyers on the upstarts and refusing to acknowledge the market's clamor for the snazzy new online version of the product, the folks at Hasbro might have sought a different kind of solution.
But Hasbro's lawyers aren't total dummies: The company is clearly calculating that it's cheaper to sue the Indian renegades than it would be to buy them out. But does that calculation include the cost of alienating literally millions of Scrabulous fans and addicts?
There is an official Scrabble game on Facebook, but users widely proclaim it to be lame. And if you can overcome your revulsion at the idea of giving your business to the evil corporation that killed off Scrabulous, you'll find that they were unprepared for today's onslaught of addicts: On the Facebook Scrabble page right now, this error message is the only text:
Scrabble is temporarily unavailable due to maintenance. Please check back later.
The good news is that Scrabulous lives on--for the moment--on its own site, but that is faint solace for Facebook users who used Scrabulous as much as a way to stay in touch with friends as a word game to pass the time and avoid their work. Without the automatic and easy way to start games with friends, the Scrabulous site has far less appeal than its Facebook version.
I mourn the loss of the four games I was in the midst of, two of which I was about to win. Really. I was. Well, now we'll never know. And instead of finishing off Valerie, Linda, my mother and my daughter, I wrote this blog post. Productivity--and the lawyers--win again.
By Marc Fisher |
July 29, 2008; 11:12 AM ET
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