About six weeks ago, I wrote about Draw Something, a collaborative drawing game for the Android and iOS operating systems. At that point, Draw Something had just exploded in popularity. Users were creating 3000 drawings per second, there were over 36 million players, and the makers of the game, OMGPOP, was just purchased by online game giant Zynga for over $200 million dollars.
At one point I had over 40 games going at the same time. I was making so many in-game coins I never had to pay money to buy bombs or colors. One Saturday morning I spent two hours catching up with all of my Draw Something games. I eventually had to stop – so many friends were responding to my drawings that I could have possibly played all morning.
And then, all of a sudden, the game ran out of steam.
Most of my friends stopped playing, or played very sporadically. I deleted all games with less than 10 turns, and then two weeks later deleted all games with less than 25 turns. On Friday I’m going to drop everyone with less than 50 turns.
There were some technical issues during this time, including weird Facebook login issues, and also problems loading specific games. My friend and I couldn’t play our game for several days, but we could play with other people just fine. Frequent players like myself exhausted most of the words in the game’s dictionary, and I think by the time updates were released to address these issues some people got bored or frustrated.
Mobile app tracking service AppData reports that 1.7 million people stopped using Draw Something in the last seven days. Draw Something’s rise in popularity seems to be equaled only by its rapid decline.
So, what will it take to get Draw Something back on track?
- A ton more words – this is the biggest thing. I read recently that the NHL paid Draw Something to put a bunch of hockey terms in the game. That’s nice, and I’m glad OMGPOP/Zynga is making some money outside of the game, but I’d rather them just release a huge dictionary to the game. Perhaps pop culture updates could stream in as they do now, but why not release a 20,000 word lexicon and be done with it?
- More brush shapes – this is something I’d pay for with in-game currency. The circles are a pretty good all-purpose brush shape, but I’d like at least a square shape, and probably a chisel/line as well. I wonder how well the old Mac spraypaint can brush would work on a touch device.
- Downvote words – you can currently blow up words with bombs to get new ones. This is nice, but I’d like a way to permanently keep words from showing up again. I don’t ever want to draw a milkman or “art” again. I’d even pay 5 or 10 in-game coins per word for this. Ideally, I’d make the downvote separate from blowing up words for that round.
- Cloud storage and sharing of drawings – the iOS version has better sharing than the Android client (meaning, we don’t have any way to do this right now), but it would be nice to pay a certain number of coins to store and share drawings on Zynga’s cloud server system. Maybe it’s 5 or 10 coins per drawing, or perhaps a flat one-time 1000 coins, or maybe 250 coins a month, or whatever. I just know that I have about forty drawings saved on my Kindle Fire as screenshots, and over time I don’t want to crowd my storage space with Draw Something drawings.
- Different game modes – some of my friends play Draw Something because they’re no pressure. You can take as long or as little as you want to draw a word. Other friends have quit because they’re no risk. It would be great to have a timed game mode, with a 60 second timer to draw the drawing, and a 60 second timer to guess it. I want to keep Draw Something around, so I’d be willing to unlock alternate modes with a one-time payment of say 1000 in-game coins.
Draw Something is still a lot of fun for me. I have about a dozen or so active games. I play most of those every day, with the rest every other day or so. I think it’s expected that the buzz about the game will wear out in time, but I am concerned about the long-term user base if Zynga doesn’t make some fundamental improvements.
Are you still playing Draw Something? What would make you keep playing, or start playing again?