Monday, April 7, 2008

Note to IP holders: My friendships matter, your boundaries don't.

I've blogged plenty about the ongoing Scrabulous debacle (e.g. here, here, and here), but have to comment on the latest.

RealNetworks (who hold the PC rights to Scrabble for outside US & Canada) have released Scrabble for Facebook, but only for users outside US & Canada).

Let's ignore for a second that Scrabulous is still available on Facebook, and has the momentum of being the incumbent.

There's a really good example here of how the IP issue is going to poison the property's chance of success.

There have already been examples of online games where players were unhappy about being unable to play on the same overseas servers as friends. This however, is much worse. Here we are talking about a social network and applications that are looking to complement (and leverage) existing connections between people. Connections that previously haven't had to worry about distinctions like what country they may reside in.

If EA (the US rights-holder) ships Scrabble for US & Canada Facebook users, and Hasbro manages to shut down Scrabulous, users will be the loser here, having to figure out with whom they can play, out of their friends list.

Hasbro has the opportunity here to offer a superior offering (see my last post on the subject) to the incumbent, and possibly acquire their user-base in the process. Instead, they'll have partners offer two crippled versions because they did their licensing with an antiquated view of the world.

[Update: I was reminded that the rift goes beyond the digital world, as Hasbro has rights in the US, and Mattel in rest of world. Still the point still holds, their IP rights are going to restrict adoption and push users toward another game entirely.]

Ugh. Just seems so broken.

3 comments:

Patrick said...

Then again, this might have the effect of a forest fire. The popular game based on a derivative design is stangled by it's own legacy, and more innovative designs that really leverage the social network have more user minutes to enrapture.

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