Scopely has unveiled that it has teamed up with Hasbro and Mattel to make a new Scrabble mobile game dubbed Scrabble Go.
Aiming to pick up on the long love affair that casual players have had with Scrabble and its various knock-offs, Scopely hopes to reimagine the franchise and come up with a massive free-to-play hit under an official license for the 80-year-old Scrabble franchise.
The big rival at the moment is Zynga’s Words With Friends, a 10-year-old game that has hundreds of millions of players and generates considerable profits.
Taking over from EA
Culver City, California-based Scopely will take over the license from Electronic Arts, which has a live Scrabble mobile game still. That game hasn’t been much of a success in competition with Zynga’s title, and that explains why EA is giving up the license after having it since 2009.
The deal comes after Scopely, the maker of Star Trek: Fleet Command, announced that it is buying FoxNext Games Los Angeles from Disney. Scopely has partnered with Hasbro since 2015 on the Yahtzee With Buddies mobile game, which has resulted in 200 billion dice roles.
“We had an existing relationship with Hasbro,” said Tim O’Brien, chief revenue officer at Scopely, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We had Yahtzee with Buddies, and we started thinking about this a couple of years ago.”
A fresh take on an 80-year-old franchise
O”Brien said Scopely will have a fresh take “on the global phenomenon and greatest word game of all time.” You can register for the mobile game via pre-registration on Google Play. It will launch on Android and iOS later this year.
Asked about Words With Friends, O’Brien said, “We’re just very excited and focused on delivering the best game possible. We don’t launch a product until we have the most immersive, amazing retention curve for a game that we can build. And for us, it’s about making sure that global Scrabble players enjoy it.”
Scopely wants to go after all types of players, from casual gamers to fierce competitors, and it will have multiple game modes, from classic mode to various new modes. It worked with one of the best Scrabble players in the U.S.
“We’re going to invite the current Scrabble users in the EA game to come over to Scrabble Go once we go global, thanks to a good partnership with EA,” O’Brien said.
Janet Hsu, chief franchise officer at Mattel, said in a statement that digital gaming is a key strategy for the Mattel brands, and it is looking forward to working with Scopely to take the game to an international audience.
Scopely is working with game studio PierPlay to make the game. EA lost the war with Zynga’s Words With Friends in mobile games, and before that, the official Scrabble games fell victim to a knockoff called Scrabulous on Facebook. That game was eventually taken down due to copyright infringement lawsuits.
O’Brien said that EA Scrabble players can continue to play for several months, even after Scrabble Go launches. That will allow for a transition period for the existing fans. After that, Scrabble Go will be the exclusive licensed mobile game.
“We will have the exclusive Scrabble game and the exclusive Scrabble dictionaries, which also is something that is very special,” O’Brien said.