Zynga Expands Successful “With Friends” Franchise with New Take on Scramble

Zynga is once again expanding its “With Friends” franchise following Chess, Words and Hanging With Friends. Scramble With Friends replaces Zynga’s early iOS title Scramble: Challenge Edition, bringing the Boggle-inspired word game more closely in line with its more popular, well-established properties through use of a consistent, recognizable aesthetic and interface. The game is initially available for iPhone and iPod touch, with iPad-specific and Android versions set to follow later in the year.

Scramble With Friends is a social “word race” game where players take it in turns to spend two minutes finding as many words as possible on a 4×4 letter grid of randomly-chosen letters. Words can be formed by tracing a path through the jumble of letters in any direction, including diagonally. But each tile can only be used once.

Scoring follows the conventions of Words and Hanging With Friends, with players receiving points according to the score values of the individual letters in the word. This is a change from the older version of Scramble, which scored players based simply on how long the word was. Matches are split into three rounds, with later rounds also incorporating Words With Friends-style double and triple word and letter score tiles, encouraging players to focus their efforts around specific tiles for the highest scores and providing a greater degree of challenge.

Like the previous With Friends titles, multiplayer games are asynchronous, meaning that players can take their turns at their own pace, with push notifications being sent to their device when it’s their turn to play again. There’s also an in-game chat facility to allow players to socialize (or trash talk!) between rounds.

An additional mechanic over the original incarnation of Scramble has been incorporated in the form of power-ups. There are three on offer. Players can temporarily freeze the clock, receive up to three hints or scramble the grid, potentially offering a whole host of new words. Players can optionally take one powerup into a round for free, with an additional powerup available if the player is willing to spend a “token.”

These tokens form the game’s monetization strategy. It costs one token to play a round, and additional tokens can be spent on taking a second power-up into a round. Upon initial download, the player is provided with 17 tokens. Once these are depleted, they refresh over the course of a 20 minute period, up to a maximum of seven, similar to the “energy” system adopted by many of Zynga’s other games. For those who wish to play more without having to wait, bonus tokens can be purchased in quantities of between 16 and 460 at once, with larger packages offering better value by throwing in extra free tokens.

Alongside the in-app purchases, there is an optional paid version of the app available alongside the free edition. Scramble With Friends Free costs nothing to download but is supported through banner advertisements on the game’s main menu, and pop-up ads between game rounds.

The paid version costs $2.99 and does not feature advertisements. Both versions feature the “tokens” mechanic — there is no gameplay advantage given to players who paid for the app.

“Scramble With Friends takes one of Zynga’s earliest games and sprinkles the magic of ‘With Friends’ games to enhance play and bring players a raucously fun mobile social experience,” said David Ko, chief mobile officer at Zynga.