Before Words With Friends, word games like Scrabble had Facebook-connected, mobile renditions, but only the most dedicated of fans latched onto them. But now that the mobile game darling has earned the love of celebrities and lay people alike, more game makers want in on the action. And who could blame them?
The next in line to challenge Words With Friends is PeopleFun with Word Chums on iOS, a valiant attempt at adding a few more layers to the word game genre. Welcome to Facebook Game Face-off, a weekly event in which we put two similar Facebook (or Facebook-connected mobile) games to the test based on three criteria, and leave it to the players, to decide. Whip out the dictionaries, judges.
How's the Wordsmithery?
Words With Friends has successfully turned one of the most cerebral games around into something palatable and even addictive to the general audience with slightly simpler gameplay and additional features like power-ups. Between that and its turn-based play, players can't but be compelled to rise to the challenge of friends time and again.
Word Chums provides much of the same in terms of feature parity and simplicity, but seems like one major push at one-upping its competition. Features like customizable avatars, player levels and experience point-gain boosts and an item shop all feel superfluous to the core play loop. They do little to enhance the task at hand: showcasing your wordsmith skills.
You've heard of the stories by now. Words With Friends has connected people in ways that some hardcore games can only dream of. The turn-based play and chat function have combined to create what is, for some, an instant messenger with a game component, something to always keep the conversation alive.
PeopleFun's answer to Words With Friends certainly has all the pieces in place for such serendipitous social connection. The game even has leaderboards to contribute to the overall conversation between friends. But overlapping game elements like levels and coins and things to buy could serve to detract from that pure communication over play.
The "Just One More Turn" Effect
Frankly, the simple ability to pass and play on the same device in Words With Friends is a boon for the game. It's features like that that are telling of developer Zynga's (originally Newtoy) true goal behind its game: to bring people together over play. It clearly has more than achieved that goal.
Given all of the game-like elements seemingly front loaded into Word Chums, PeopleFun's take could be aimed at a more intense audience. That might work for plenty of word game fans, but a similar game already exists for the more "hardcore" audience: Scrabble. Unfortunately, levels and coins don't make the core play loop any more entertaining than what's already available.
And the Victor Is...
Words With Friends. It's by no means the OG of mobile word games, but none has done it better yet. Where Word Chums is concerned with tracking arguably arbitrary levels and coins, Words With Friends gets right to what players come for: communication and commiseration over pure, simple fun. But let's hear what you think:
Words With Friends or Word Chums?
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