The Great Scrabble Firewall

Facebookers have probably been following the saga of Scrabulous, the online game that looks and behaves rather like Scrabble. Scrabulous was well put together, and allowed me to play with my friends all over the globe, in group and one-on-one games.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Despite their IP claims being rather, erm, shaky, Mattel-Hasbro seems to have brought down Scrabulous; it’s now only available for people who don’t live in the USA or Canada.

“Not to worry!”, they bugled. “We’ll bring out our own authentic version for you!”

So I went to look for it today, not in the best frame of mind. And what did I find? Not one, but two different “authentic” Scrabbles from Hasbro. Firewalled. One version for North America, and one version for the rest of the world, with an IP check. Nothing ever goes in, and nothing ever comes out. This is what I get when I go to the “Scrabble Beta” app:

we're sorry, but this version of SCRABBLE is only for the US and Canada

Next, I tried to play the “Rest of the world” version. All my USAn friends were tauntingly listed in the Invite list, with this note above.

friends in the united states and canada will not be able to join

I tried to play with some Australian friends. The Play buttons didn’t work. The Invite buttons were buggy. The whole Hasbro interface was a shiny shambles. I couldn’t even get so far as a game board, not even when I tried to use the feature to start a game with a random person.

The discussion boards for both games are full of pissed-off would-have-been customers complaining about the firewalling and the bugginess of the apps.

So fuck you too, Hasbro. I guess I won’t be buying that travel Scrabble set I was considering. And I’m regretting having recently bought Scrabble Junior, after my lad’s interest was piqued by watching me play Scrabulous online.

You can find Wordscraper, the latest offering from the Scrabulous blokes, here. It just works.


And while you’re there, come challenge me to a game of BubbleWords. It rocks.

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6 replies

  1. Well, I hadn’t been following all that saga – I knew there was a challenge going on from Mattel-Hasbro, but I hadn’t realised that I couldn’t play with my USAn scrabmates any more.
    Bah. Sorry about all those unfinished games, everyone.
    *off to change Facebook status to say something scathing*

  2. In the news reports accompanying the official scrabble launch a Hasbro flak said re country restrictions, something like “people like to play with people who speak the same language.” Yeah, like no American could possibly play with us Aussies is our native language of Yurhksjdfifsim. The diacritics play havoc with the java script anyway.
    I bought a travel scrabble in November to take overseas, at the height of my Scrabulous addiction. Wish I had not now too.

  3. I’ve been playing the North American version of Scrabble(TM)(C), and it’s not quite ready for prime time. Sometimes it just locks up and you have to reload it, waiting for the very slow unnecessary animation to load (also the IP check, I guess). You aren’t missing anything. Not surprisingly Wordscraper works much better – just like Scrabulous did.

  4. The North America/elsewhere divide corresponds exactly to the split of the rights to Scrabble between Hasbro and Mattel, so I guess that could be behind this annoying setup.
    Marys last blog post..Bill

  5. Lexulous!
    It walks like scrabulous and it talks like scrabulous, and your old scrabulous id and log-in will work with it.
    Deborah’s last blog post..She’ll believe what she damn well wants to believe

  6. I have just befriended you on facebook so I can challenge you to bubblewords. Looks fun.

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