Zynga Mobile SVP talks the future of Draw Something
Not every app is born a winner. Draw Something is in fact the third version of an application called Draw My Thing. A few changes and now you can spy the app on virtually every phone on the train journey home with it becoming the most popular casual game available, recently landing developer Omgpop a $210 million buyout by social networking game giant Zynga.
The success story has been quite the ride for the Omgpop and its employees. The company allegedly had just $1,700 in the bank before a 10-day bonanza saw Draw Something hit 1 million downloads and Zynga's swift approach.
While plenty has been written of the recent history and subsequent acquisition, Pocket-lint wanted to find out about the future for the current in vogue mobile game. We caught up with senior vice president of Zynga, Travis Boatman to find out.
“I think Draw Something has been so successful because the Omgpop team created a game that is fun, expressive and fosters real social interaction," Travis says.
"It's the combination of being able to play with friends anywhere, any time, and the mix of relevant cultural and social elements that have really struck a chord with a mass audience.”
One of the dangers of the freedom that Draw Something offers is that it can transform quite easily into something like Chatroulette with the original title of Draw My Thing prophetically accurate for how quickly and how often a game can be debased, but Travis and Zynga don't share the concern that the appeal of this top app could implode in that manner.
“Draw Something is designed to play among friends - it’s a social game. That is why we support Facebook connection. Friends don't usually grief each other and, if they do, then it's within the bounds of their friendship. That's completely different from Chatroulette which is entirely random."
"Also, when people don't respond to a random match, that suggests they are not a good player and they tend not to get matched any more. So, the system is built to take care of itself.”
So, so long as drawing a penis and sending it back and forth is not how both players wish to continue the game, then the theory seems to schoolboy humour will eventually weed itself out.
Kept savoury or otherwise, as quickly as an app can shoot to stardome, the downloads can dwindle when the hype dies down and the gameplay stales. Angry Birds isn't still in the top ten by chance. It's constant updates, seasons and new editions keep the ball rolling but are the same opportunities there for Zynga's latest wunderkind?
“This is just the beginning for Draw Something," says Travis, careful to hint at definite futurewithoug giving away too much about what those developments might be.
"As with all of our games, Draw Something is a live service that is constantly updated with new features and content. Social features are most important to the game, and you will see very soon sharing, chatting and more."
Perhaps group games to follow, then? Either way, don't expect Draw Something to stand still for too long, especially now that Omgpop can benefit from a second studio of developers and all the experience that Zynga brings. So what next; Draw Something on every possible platform? It's an obvious move but perfectly sensible and something those on Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS have been crying out for since the fun began, but, interestingly, the plans run deeper than that.
"Could you imagine playing this game on a feature phone," poses Travis clarifying just how far he's willing to go with his commitment to Pocket-lint to "scale more incredible games to an even bigger global audience".
Certainly, to give Draw Something a that lifespan of which Zynga clearly feels its capable, it needs to go that far and further still. Beyond the mobile space, there's Smart TVs, set to boxes, cars and whatever other bits and pieces of hardware which will be able to carry apps in the years to come, but that all takes time. Fortunately, what Draw Something has on its side is the social side of things; something we know to be of vital importance.
Clearly then Zynga has fairly big plans for Draw Something and the Omgpop team. No surprise there really, given its $210 million price tag. Whether the app will achieve the lifespan of some other App Store gargantua remains to be seen. It’s certainly fun (just read our review) but then it’s up against the likes of Temple Run and Where’s My Water, both of which are more than capable of ending its success spree rather quickly, not to mention the next big hit lurking around the bend.
For now though, expect plenty more talk of Draw Something as it entertains on every bus ride home, and don't forget to brush up on your fine art skills.
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