After the whole legal battle with Scrabulous, toymaker Hasbro hired Electronic Arts to create an official Scrabble game for Facebook. The popular board game was also made available for the growing iPhone. The only problem was that Facebook Scrabble users couldn’t play their iPhone counterparts.
EA recently announced that it would utilize Facebook Connect to help connect the two platforms. Now all online Scrabble users, whether connected to the game via the iPhone or Facebook, can communicate and play with one another.
The integration also allows iPhone users to see Facebook profiles within the list of available games. They can view other users’ stats, and invite them to play regardless of whether or not they currently have the app installed. Players on either the iPhone or Facebook can now play each other in real time, simply by taking turns.
The bridge between the two platforms was sorely needed. The official Facebook Scrabble game has been less popular than the original unlicensed game, Scrabulous (now called Lexulous). Part of the problem with the official Scrabble game for Facebook is the geographic disconnect that players are forced to endure. With Lexulous, players can play with anyone from anywhere around the world. But for the official Scrabble, Hasbro and Mattel walled off users from one another depending on their geographic location, dividing the game into a U.S. and Canada (Scrabble Beta) version and a Worldwide version (SCRABBLE® Worldwide).
The success of future gaming apps on the iPhone will be tied to incorporating social features into their design. Creating games that segment users geographically is an unbelievably foolish venture. Whether they’re on Facebook or the iPhone, users play social games to be social. Any efforts to curtail the social aspects of a game effectively limits its success.
With this new Facebook Connect upgrade, it appears the game makers are making progress with the social aspects of their game. Hopefully, in time, the companies will merge the local and international Facebook versions as well.