Cyber Culture: Drawing lessons from the epic failure of OMGPOP

  • @rhodri

You might just remember the game Draw Something. Just over a year ago, everyone was playing it. Literally everyone. Well, not literally everyone, but lots of people. Companies were making a mint out of selling special styluses for our smartphones so we could doodle in greater detail. At the peak of its popularity, the company behind it, OMGPOP, were hauled out of near-bankruptcy by the games firm Zynga for $180m. People became rich. CBS bought the rights to a Draw Something game show.

But then, as quickly as it had peaked, it troughed. Half its daily users were lost in a month. At the moment when a Zynga spokesman described Draw Something as an "evergreen franchise" that will "live on for years," the world had realised that it wasn't very good. Briefly distracting, sure, but after a week or so it was deeply tedious.

A few weeks ago, Zynga released Draw Something 2, and in what some might say was an act of desperation they got to publicise it. It flopped. Shortly afterwards, OMGPOP was moth- balled in a cost-saving exercise.

We learn three things from this. a) OMGPOP never really had the magic touch; one of its games merely went accidentally viral. b) Zynga failed to notice point a). c) Don't ever believe the hype.