The production and social gaming company are joining forces to develop a television game show based on the eponymous mobile game. The announcement was made earlier today by both companies. This endeavor is an attempt to capitalize off the success and budding popularity of game shows inspired by mobile apps. “The interactive social experience of Words With Friends makes it the perfect mobile game for us to bring to primetime, following our success with Beat Shazam on FOX,” said Barry Poznick, president of Unscripted television for MGM. The other app-inspired game show to recently air is Candy Crush, produced by Lionsgate and King, on CBS. Unlike Beat Shazam, Candy Crush is struggling to garner great ratings and its future is looking rather bleak.
Since Words With Friends debuted in the mobile app market in 2009, it has been installed over 200 million times on various devices, over 55 million matches are being played around the world at any given time, over 75 million words are played every day and has ranked among the Top 10 free games of all time in the App Store. It has basically made Scrabble cool again.
As an avid Words With Friends fan and frequent player (dexterslab90 – play me sometime), I’m excited to see how MGM & Zynga will format this game show. As you may have seen with NBC’s Scrabble and The Hub’s (now Discovery Family) Scrabble Showdown, it is entirely possible to develop a great game show based on a popular crossword game. However, if it’s going to be anything like the pilot of Scrabble Challenge, we’re going to be in for a rough season. Mark Burnett, head of MGM Television, currently has four hits airing on the top three networks (Survivor – CBS, The Voice – NBC, Shark Tank – ABC, Funderdome – ABC). I’m sure his team will find a way to make this a hit — hopefully.