Mattel launches official online Scrabble to rival Scrabulous

LONDON - Games company Mattel has launched an official Scrabble application on social networking site Facebook to rival Scrabulous, the popular unauthorised version that has been attracting more than 600,000 players daily.

Mattel commissioned digital company Real Networks to create 'Scrabble by Mattel', but the application, which is still in its trial stage, has had a poor start, attracting just 2,000 daily active users.

The boardgame's complex ownership means players in the US and Canada are unable to access the official online version. This is because, although Mattel owns the rights internationally, it is toymaker Hasbro that owns the board game in the US and Canada.

'Scrabble by Mattel' therefore has a long way to go before drawing level with the popularity of Scrabulous, which has built up a large following among Facebook users.

This unofficial version was developed in Calcutta, India, by software developers Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla. Last year, they put it on Facebook after an approach to Hasbro received no response.

However, in January this year Scrabulous came under fire from Hasbro and Mattel, which pressured Facebook to shut down the application.

Subsequently, thousands of Facebook users joined groups such as Save Scrabulous to protest against any Scrabulous ban.

At the time, Real Networks reported that it was in talks with the Scrabulous owners to save the online application; however, the software company told the New York Times this week that it had been working on the official Mattel version of the game for several months.