50 million downloads in it’s first 50 days is what OMGPOPs reinvention of Pictionary for the mobile-age achieved on iOS. Draw Something is the smartphone game of 2012, already winning multiple awards in the short time it’s been on the market. Makers and seed funded start-up OMGPOP, caught widespread attention and were swiftly bought out last month by social game giant Zynga for $180m.
Just in case you haven’t heard about or played Draw Something before:
Two players alternate turns between drawing a picture for each other to guess. The person drawing chooses one of three words to draw, the three choices are of varying difficulty - the higher the difficulty, the higher the stakes. Each player earns one to three coins if the drawing is guessed correctly. Earning enough coins buys you additional colours to use or ‘bombs’ at your disposal. Bombs help you out if you’re stuck, either by making the word easier to guess or giving you more options when choosing what to draw.
It’s an upgrade of the Facebook ‘Poke’!
Unlike many of the other big games on iOS that require a short investment of time (eg. Cut the Rope, Angry Birds), Draw Something creates the most informal of communications between users. By this I mean that Draw Something is an evolution of the Facebook ‘poke’ feature…. It’s a way of saying ‘hey’ to a friend without words. Sending a friend a doodle for them to guess is an extension of validating friendship - letting the other person know that they’re on your radar.
From a personal perspective, I am hooked on Draw Something! I’ve integrated it with my Facebook, and I’m playing against friends that I haven’t spoken to for months…. or even a couple of years!
Games of this nature have certainly existed for a few years already, however they have generally only found success directly on the web (eg. Farmville on Facebook). I predict that we will see more games in the near future, looking to further blur the lines between gameplay and the social graph directly on your smartphone.
In the meantime, I’m just enjoying Draw Something and I don’t care how lame it makes me look!
Draw Something: available for iPhone and Android (free and paid versions)
Picture: my attempt at drawing ‘weights’ on the Draw Something iPhone app for my sister to guess!
Facebook has made previous acquisitions of technology start-ups, such as Beluga (which integrated as Facebook Messenger app) and Hot Potato (which became Facebook’s check-in feature, Facebook Places), however it is fair to say that yesterday’s Instagram deal is the biggest to date.
What I see as the key differentiator that made Instagram so appetising, is that Instagram were not afraid to move to Android, opening up their app to the majority of smartphone users, not just keeping it on iOS.
At the time of launching the Android version, a loud minority of iPhone users snobbishly whined that the influx of Android users was turning the app into some sort of visual ghetto. As an iPhone & Instagram user, I feel that opening up any app to as many users as possible is only a good thing, as it can make the community richer and more involved.
Instagram were right to ignore the objections to their Android expansion, and what the extension demonstrated was that Intagram were keen to allow their photo sharing experience enrich as many lives as possible. This was the point where Facebook had to take note. One of Facebook’s main uses is the ability to share and store your pictures online. If Instagram had continued to grow at the impressive rates it was currently achieving (zero to 30m+ users on iOS in less than 18 months), surely this would have a detrimental affect to Facebook to some extent.
Facebook of late have been promoting themselves as a platform for other technology services and apps to plug in to - they’re building a ‘social web’. What the Instagram acquisition shows is that if you become prominent in Facebook’s ‘social web’, you may just fetch a nice $1 billion price tag.
Co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger will join Facebook following the takeover. It will be interesting to see if Instagram will stay as Instagram or will be re-branded and fully integrated into Facebook. My hunch is the latter.