For a while, it seemed like Words With Friends was an unstoppable force in the social gaming realm. Everyone was playing it, whether on their Facebook web pages or smartphones. But just a little more than a month ago, game developer OMGPOP unveiled Draw Something, a pictionary-for-smartphones gaming app that came in free or paid ad-free editions. Five weeks after the release, Draw Something received 20 million hits, was generating more than six figures a day, and has easily toppled Words With Friends as the most popular gaming app today. What gives?
To give you to idea of the magnitude that Draw Something has grown into, Instagram, Apple’s App of the Year for 2011 and one of the most popular photography apps for iOS, has roughly 27 million users to date. The fact that Draw Something is a two-player game, and you cannot play against a robot, requires people to seek other players to make the game work. You can play the mobile version of Words With Friends against a friend on the same device granted you’re both sitting next to each other.
How does Draw Something work? Its pop-culture based, simple formula is likely the key to an addictive success. Players can choose to get randomly matched to a stranger, or play against their Facebook friends who have the app installed. When it’s your turn to draw, you get a choice of three words based on difficulty level. Most of these words are simple nouns like “hot dog” or “whiskers” but you can also get verbs like “jump” or “shoot.” The funnier options seem to be proper nouns, such as “Gameboy” or “Rihanna.” The results end up in hilarious interpretations, obscure figures, questionable content, or some pretty amazing artwork.
The drawer also gets a start with four basic colors, with the option to buy more colors using the coins earned throughout the game. During the guesser’s turn, they receive bank of letters to help guess the word and a bomb to eliminate letters if they are struggling. After a successful round, the game starts over again. Each turn take a quick minute or so, which explains how the app is getting anywhere between 50 to 75 drawings per second on a daily basis. If you’re playing against several people at the same time, it’s easy to rack up coins for new colors rather swiftly. However, the free version also has a more limited range of words, so you might find yourself drawing the same word multiple times for different people and this gets old quick.
Still, that seems to stop no one as Draw Something continues to soar past every social gaming app in existence. It is absolutely astonishing to see an app like this come out of nowhere and beat out Zynga’s array of popular games in one fell swoop.