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For a “simple gamer” like myself (which means that I rank several levels below a casual gamer), Scrabulous has been god-sent. It’s the next best thing after Brain Age 2’s Sodoku and Tetris DS, both of which are available for the Nintendo DS Lite.

But I confess, I am but a Newb (aka newbie, aka newcomer to an on-line game) having only recently started to play. I was first introduced to Scrabulous when Hasbro began its now infamous campaign to shutdown the popular Facebook application. After reading the “horrified” reports, first from PR Squared (a public relations blog I frequent) and then from Entertainment Weekly, my interest was piqued. I booked the next ticket on the Scrabulous bandwagon to see what all the fuss was about and I never got off.

This “unofficial” on-line version of Scrabble is ingenious, the brainchild of two brothers in India, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, who just wanted to play on-line for “free.” Problem was, Scrabble belongs to Hasbro, the corporate toy-maker that owns the rights to the Scrabble trademark in the U.S. and Canada, with Mattel holding the trademark everywhere else.

Interestingly enough, The New York Times found that many Scrabulous players believed Scrabble to be “public property” like Chess or Checkers. It’s a misconception that’s easy to make, considering that there are many other unofficial on-line versions of Scrabble available, though none were as well designed, nor achieved the same rabid popularity as Scrabulous. Examples include Internet Scrabble Club, Let’s Play Scrabble, Online-Scrabble and Scrabble by GameHouse.

From a public relations perspective, it’s just an unfortunately legal move on Hasbro’s part that has left many PR professionals shaking their heads in disbelief, especially since Target and Ford spurned the blogosphere at more or less the same time. Instead of embracing these new-found fans, Hasbro brought forth their wrath–creating a viral nightmare.

With over 500,000 to 700,000 daily users and nearly 3 million registered users, many of them playing multiple games at once, you can only image what has ensued……

While Scrabulous has yet to be shut down, it is unlikely that it will remain in its current state on Facebook. A few recent reports, indicate that RealNetworks is planning to buy Scrabulous and work out a deal with Hasbro. Also notable, Electronic Arts is planning to create an “Official” Scrabble game with Hasbro as well. While some analysts and commentators say that this may be the only way to save Scrabulous, it feels like an unfortunate solution for fans. But, at the same time, this new development may also mark the beginning of a new golden age for classic board games everywhere.

Hasbro, Here’s an idea – On another side note, Hasbro should most definitely reallocate its marketing funds to its research & development team. It would be money better spent to create something brilliant like Scrabulous than an unfortunate boardgame-inspired Hollywood flop.