Just as the briefly über-popular smartphone app has started to wane in popularity, the company has made the game even less desirable. In an attempt to make money off of all the users it once had, Draw Something has a new advertising strategy, which will make the game a borderline dystopian version of Pictionary.
Zynga, which bought OMGPop when its Draw Something game looked like the next big thing, in addition to the usual spammy banner ads we see in mobile phone games, has started inserting brands into the game itself, we learn from AdAge's Kunur Patel. The National Hockey League, for example, has paid money to get hockey related terms, like "Zamboni" as options for drawers. And we can expect more brands to come soon.
This idea doesn't change the general flow of the game much. Drawers will still get a choice of three words and a certain amount of colors to draw that word for their friend. The friend will still have to guess that word and will get coins as a reward for right guesses. The words just happen to be brand-related, which might not even diminish the "quality" of the pictures, but is a very depressing thought. As you can see above, many of the drawings, which the NHL has posted on Pinterest to further boost its brand, are quite elaborate. But, sports elicit a certain type of passion that most companies don't. Impassioned sports fans paint their bodies, scream their voices scratchy, and will go topless in the freezing cold for their teams. Most brands don't work like that. Take KFC, Doritos or Nike, three of the brands Zynga tested before rolling out the official strategy. How creative can one get with those?
And that's the saddest part of this all. This commercialization of the game presents quite the dystopian version of creativity. Instead of providing vague terms, like "fart" or "yoga" we get options that already have very specific images associated with them. "People loved to draw the Colonel and bags of Doritos," former OMGPop CEO Dan Porter, now Zynga's VP-mobile and general manager, told AdAge's Patel. Part of the fun of the game is thinking of clever or funny or weird ways to depict something. These corporate things already have that all part all set. Plus, we doubt people find it more fun than drawing more abstract items. It's just an easy get.
The move might not matter much, anyway, as users have already gotten tired of the game, which The Atlantic Wire pointed out the other day. Both daily and monthly user numbers have been steadily declining since April 1 as the game couldn't keep users hooked without the upgradable levels and challenges that other games, like Angry Birds, have. But for those still playing, get ready to get a bunch of brands and advertising thrown in your face. You get to draw a bunch of commercials.