RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK), which has previously professed its supposedly neutral position in the copyright controversy over the popular Facebook app Scrabulous, is now sneaking itself into the mix: it is quietly introducing a version of Scrabble on Facebook, called "Scrabble by Mattel", through its subsidiary Gamehouse. The Mattel version is only available for users outside U.S. and Canada, though as this NYT story says, it relies on users to be honest about their location to make that distinction.
The rights for Scrabble are complicated: Hasbro owns the rights to Scrabble in North America, and Mattel in the rest of the world. RealNetworks has digital deal with both companies, but Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) also has a digital deal with Hasbro.
Meanwhile, easy to guess which one's more popular: As of Sunday, the official Scrabble game had attracted fewer than 2,000 daily Facebook users; Scrabulous has 600,000. The RNWK version is still in beta...also, doesn't mean RealNetworks still won't be able to buy or do a deal with Scrabulous founders.
By Rafat Ali