Draw Something is a free app that is on the Android Marketplace and the iTunes Store. This app, in a relatively short period of time, has become a viral success grossing somewhere around $200 million.
For a free app, a profit of $200 million in a matter of months is an extremely impressive feat for the small omgpop, which was recently purchased by Zynga, the maker of games such as CastleVille and Words With Friends. It is clear why the social gaming giant bought the startup, whose first game got over 35 million downloads in its first 6 weeks. In a week’s span, over a billion drawings had been created. The game is now the top downloaded free app in 85 countries.
Draw Something‘s success is unprecedented for a game that basically reinvented Pictionary for the social media age. Players are given the option of three words. The words are then graded in their difficulty, easy to hard. The harder the words are to draw, the more gold players get. That is part of the appeal to the game: the challenge of drawing obscure, ridiculous words and conveying them to whomever competitors are playing with. The more gold players earn, the more things they are able to buy, like different colors for their drawings, enabling them to better convert the word to a picture for their competitors.
Part of what has enabled Draw Something to spread so quickly is the addictive, competitive nature of the game. Players are constantly trying to best opponents, many of which are friends. The ability of the game to tap into the competitive nature of its users is what has allowed it to develop and spread so quickly. Mostly, though, the game is just fun.
While the app itself may be free, Zynga makes money by offering users the option to purchase more colors or other add-ons. This is a model of profiting that is becoming more frequent for social gaming platforms. It is a model that works well and has begun to reach beyond the social gaming platform to other types of gaming.
Like many viral social games, this one is sure to stick around for a while. Draw Something taps into every bored student’s desire to doodle and a built-in need to compete. It is a game perfectly tailored to the smartphone-wielding masses that are today’s students. It will be interesting to see what omgpop does now that it has been bought out by Zynga, one of the biggest names in social gaming.