originally published here:
Like most fanatical Scrabble players, devotees of Scrabulous, a Scrabble-like application on Facebook, hate to be interrupted. So players are breathing easier since an upgrade last week intended to ensure that matches load more quickly.
The improvement came in response to the booming popularity of the application, which lets Facebook members to play one another online. According to the site, Scrabulous has upwards of half a million daily users.
Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, software developers and brothers in Calcutta, released Scrabulous on Facebook at the end of June. Longtime fans of the board game Scrabble from Hasbro, they developed their online version on their Web sites Bingobinge.com, which was introduced in 2005, and Scrabulous.com, which had its debut a year later.
In early June, a Scrabulous.com user suggested they put the game on Facebook to broaden their reach, so they wrote to Hasbro to make sure they were not engaging in copyright infringement. The brothers say they never heard back from the company. (Representatives at Hasbro did not respond to queries on the matter.)
“We were targeting 2,600 users, about 0.01 percent of the entire Facebook population,” said Jayant, a 21-year-old college senior. Within weeks, the Scrabulous application had 20,000 users.
Jayant’s enthusiasm for the online game has not dulled his love of the face-to-face experience of the original. He recently came in first in his age group in a local Scrabble competition.
“Scrabble has a charm of its own because you’re playing with close friends or family members,” he said. “But the thing is, as in everything in the world, people don’t find time to be with their family, to find two hours to play. Most people have Scrabble in their attic gathering dust, so the application helps people play and stay connected.”
Though they will not disclose how much money they make from Scrabulous, The Wall Street Journal quoted Jayant this year as saying Scrabulous earns roughly $18,000 a month. In addition, it may help Scrabble sales.
Through Scrabulous, “we have managed to reach a lot of people who have never played the game,” said Rajat, who is 26. “Some even ask us questions about how to play Scrabulous because they’re not familiar with it. Once we’ve explained it to them, they come back and say, ‘It’s a great thing and we have to buy the original version to play with our family offline.’”
The brothers plan further upgrades, including video lectures about the game. And they are preparing a chess application for Facebook.
“We’ve tried to make it as intuitive as possible and as friendly as possible,” said Rajat.