While checking out cnn.com the other day, I came across this article about the Scrabulous controversy. Two brothers created Scrabulous, an online version of Scrabble, for Facebook. This free game was a big hit on the social website and became extremely popular, very fast.
The makers of the actual Scrabble, Hasbro Inc., found out about the knockoff’s success and issued a lawsuit against the creators. Since being served with the lawsuit, the creators of Scrabulous have put a block on the game for users in the United States.
Hasbro’s official online version for Facebook only has about 15,000 daily users compared to the half-million that previously played Scrabulous every day. This made me wonder, was this a good move for Hasbro’s public image?
While it may be the company’s actual right under copyright laws to be the only online Scrabble provider for Facebook, it may not be a good move to upset the public and eliminate the competition, Scrabulous. Players will not necessarily start using Hasbro’s version because it is there. If they don’t like it, they won’t use it.
Instead of shutting down Scrabulous, Hasbro could have chosen to join forces with the makers of the game to create a lucrative situation for all. One option would have been to give the Scrabulous creators the needed copyrights in exchange for a portion of the profits. If Hasbro had done this, the public would still be happy because they can play Scrabulous, and Hasbro would be able to make a profit. This would make Hasbro look like the good guy, the company that does what it can to ensure consumer satisfaction. Also, Hasbro’s name would be linked to the popularity of Scrabulous in a positive way, but now Hasbro is seen as the bad guy in this situation.
While things may change over time, players might come around, or new players enter the market and use Hasbro’s version, right now Hasbro has a blemish on its image for a very large community, Facebook.
This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations firm staff member, Laura Macenka.