Welcome one and all, to this week’s Sunday Sidebar. Pull up a chair, take the weight off your feet, and let’s try to work out just exactly what happened this week to OMGPOP and their outstanding runaway success, Draw Something.
Maybe two weeks ago, my fiancée recommended that I check out an app that she’d spotted whilst browsing the iOS App Store. It was called Draw Something, and it was sort of a turn-based Pictionary-style game. The two of us are already avid WordFeud (pictured right) players, and spend plenty of time playing these sorts of games together across a whole gamut of genres as a pleasant way to pass our working week. Unfortunately for myself, this fabled drawing app had not yet launched in the UK App Store, and so it was only this week that I managed to finally source it, but it turns out that this week was exactly the right week to have come on board.
With everyone and their dog tweeting and bloggingabout it, OMGPOP’s Draw Something has reached dizzying zeitgeist heights to become a craze rivalling that of the much-lauded Angry Birds ilk. The game successfully generated so much buzz that social gaming empire Zynga coughed up a deal reportedly valued at $210 million to buy the fledgling app developer and their wonderful finger-painting game. Of course, few enterprises would invest on buzz alone, and it’s once you get down to figures that the game becomes truly a shocking affair. As of this week, OMGPOP have been earning $250,000 per day from in-app purchases inDS, and that was coming in after Apple’s 30% cut. This means that, with the Apple profits taken into acccount, Draw Something has been generating in and around $360,000 per day from in-app purchases. Take a second and let those figures wash over you. That’s a heck of a lot of money for a choice of different colored paints.
The secret to this success, I feel, is that while the game may suffer from a few minor quirks, it is good, clean fun. It succeeds at uniting players, rather than pitting them against each other. No-one truly ‘wins’ inDraw Something. The coins earned for a successful guess are distributed between the two players. A player turn divides into three sections: Watching the person guessing your drawing, guessing the other person’s drawing, and finally submitting your next drawing for the other person to guess. These three stages elicit feelings of joy, satisfaction, achievement, and genuine creativity. It takes about five minutes to complete a turn in the game. Repeatedly playing snowballs into an understandably highly enjoyable game experience.
A parting word to those who may not be particularly artistically gifted: have heart! The game is not about who is better at drawing something. It’s okay to be terrible at drawing. I certainly am, and I’d almost encourage it. The game is particularly well designed because the pressure is not expressly limited to the person drawing, as the answer lies somewhere within 12 letters at the bottom of the screen, too. What the game essentially splits into is Pictionary bouncing off a wordsearch. Even if your drawing provides absolutely zero possible clue as to the answer, the other player has every chance of working it out by guessing the word hidden within the letters. I cannot put it simpler: if you have a smartphone, if you enjoy games, and if you have a few minutes to spare, you should be playing Draw Something.