Will RealNetworks Buy Scrabulous?

Scrabulous is like Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album of Facebook Apps. Everyone loves it except the guys who own Scrabble (Mattel and Hasbro), the board game that inspired Scrabulous.

The legal troubles of the game cooked up by Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, two brothers living in Calcutta, have been well chronicled, most recently by The New York Times. The game which has about 700,000 daily players brings in about $25,000 in monthly advertising revenues from online advertising.

All this attention has made Scrabble cool again. Electronics Arts is going to put out an online game. RealNetworks which has licenses from Hasbro and Mattel, want to make a Scrabble move, which spells S-C-R-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.

Harold Zeitz, senior vice president for games at RealNetworks, said Friday that he was working closely with the Agarwalla brothers to bring the official Scrabble game to Facebook users.

Following the release of the article, Bill Hankes, VP of Corporate Communications at RealNetworks sent a curious email, which makes me wonder if Real is planning to acquire Scrabulous.

Hankes in his email said that Real is not part of any legal action against Scrabulous, and since they have licenses from both Hasbro and Mattel, “we are in a unique position to bring all the parties together in an effort to preserve the Scrabble experience for millions of Scrabulous fans.” I contacted Hankes and asked him if Real was looking to buy Scrabulous.

We aren’t saying anything that specific, except that we’re big fans of Scrabulous and think because of our licenses from both Hasbro and Mattel that we’re in a good position to work with them keep the Scrabble experience on Facebook.

While he doesn’t necessarily say anything specific, the act of reaching out and talking about their ability to keep Scrabulous going tells me Real is hoping to make a play for Scrabulous.And if they did, it would be a pretty smart move on their part.

Real has been getting very serious about casual gaming, especially ad-supported casual gaming. It would get them a hit game for their casual gaming business and more over it would give them an entry into the Facebook/Social Gaming space, where they are facing competition from a whole slew of new comers.

Related Link:The GigaOM Show interview with Rob Glaser, CEO & Founder of RealNetworks.


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