There’s a trend to combine games with TV game shows, and it’s either a brilliant way to do cross marketing — or a doomed effort to save TV as millennials go online for their entertainment.
Zynga is experimenting with new platforms to broaden the reach of Words With Friends, much like Activision Blizzard’s King division is doing with its new Candy Crush TV show. And the Future Group has a new format for game shows that combines virtual world play on mobile devices with live actors playing on TV.
Words With Friends is turning eight years old this week, and it has a good shot at becoming a “forever game” that keeps bringing in revenue for Zynga. Since launching in 2009, Words With Friends has been downloaded more than 200 million times and it is one of Apple’s top 10 free games of all time. An estimated 55 million Words With Friends matches are under way at any given moment.
“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 at MGM, in a statement. “Playing WORDS is a daily ritual for some of the biggest names in Hollywood and we’ve created the perfect format to capture their competitiveness and creative wordplay.”
Zynga also partnered with Facebook to bring the first ever turn-based game to Messenger with Words With Friends for Instant Games. And Zynga is in the early testing phases of a new Words With Friends sequel.
“Over the past eight years, Words With Friends has proven to be a place where millions of people connect with their friends and family from around the world every day,” said Bernard Kim, president of publishing at Zynga, in a statement. “We’re proud to partner with MGM, an industry leader in creating innovative and engaging programming, to extend the iconic gameplay and rich social experience of Words With Friends, and our broader collection of With Friends games, to new mainstream entertainment mediums.”
MGM Television has a slate of competition shows, including Beat Shazam on Fox hosted by Jamie Foxx, Steve Harvey’s Funderdome for ABC, The Voice (NBC), Survivor (CBS) and Shark Tank (ABC).