Words With Friends' makers: 'We had no idea that it'd catch on like it did'

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Words With FriendsReally? Because now you're sitting on a gold mine that has drove at least one guy-a very famous guy, mind you--to get thrown off of a plane. Speaking with Spectrum, Words With Friends creators Paul and David Bettner (formerly of Newtoy and now of Zynga With Friends) have revealed their little, seemingly innocuous tweaks to the tried and true Scrabble formula.

And it's those tiny creative liberties that could very well have contributed to the mobile word game's wild success. Rather than copy Scrabble wholesale, the Bettners--with the help of partners Kevin Holme and Shawn Lohstroh--created Words With Friends from scratch, combing over the smallest considerations. "[Holme] came up with a percentage for each of the 26 letters," Bettner told Spectrum. "And that was just the starting point."

"One of the goals we had in designing our letter distribution was to give players letters that would allow them to form words much more easily than in other word games," Holme said to Spectrum. "In WwF, we put four H's into the bag and set their value to 3-a big difference from Scrabble, which uses two H's worth 4 points."

It's tiny changes to the proven formula like these that Bettner--who calls them "explosive moments"--argues contributed to transforming Words With Friends from something the developers simply wanted to see on their iPhones to a mobile gaming phenomenon. "If there's just that right amount of randomness in the game, then you feel like, I'm pretty far behind, but I might just get the perfect combination of letters to spell a word with a J in it."

Are you still digging Words With Friends after all this time? What is it about the game that keeps drawing you back in? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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