App of the Week: Sing It, Say It

Developer:
Wobbyl LLC

Compatible with:
iPhone
iPad
iPod Touch (4th Generation)

Android Compatible Systems

Requires:
iOS 5.0 or later

Android 2.0.1 or up

Price:
$0.99

Available here for iOS and here for Android

Considering that the app “Draw Something” has been downloaded over 50 million times since its release, it was, of course, inevitable that other developers would try to take their own stab at the concept, and reap the considerable rewards of the apparently huge market that exists for that style of game.

Yet unlike the many “Angry Birds”knock offs out there, there really isn’t much creative freedom in trying to duplicate “Draw Something.” As indicated by the title, it’s a game where you draw something, people take a guess at what subject it is you are trying to draw, and the world rejoices at the fun had by all in the process. It’s not exactly a concept that is easy to capitalize off of without directly copying the original idea. While this would usually be a breath of fresh air, creatively speaking, it’s truthfully kind of sad that no one has found a way to take the basic idea present in that game (user created trivia with your friends) and find a fun new direction to take it in.

That’s why I like the new app “Sing It, Say It.” Instead of relying on a visual for the trivia question, “Sing It, Say It” instead uses audio clues. Specifically, you are asked to record a movie quote or song lyrics, provide the answer in a limited character space, and share it with up tofour other players (random, or grouped through you) to see who can match the sound to its source. The gameplay is enhanced by the ability to acquire tickets by winning and achieving other goals like winning streaks, or being the fastest guesser in your group. These tickets work as in game currency to unlock bonuses that range from more recording time, to voice modifiers (and also serve as a nice change of pace from a game requiring actual currency to unlock things).

If it sounds simple that’s because it is, and that’s thankfully why the whole things works. As so many of us are children of the multimedia age, our minds are backed up with movie quotes and song lyrics that were previously only useful for the occasional misguided karaoke adventure, or casual slip in to everyday conversation. “Sing It, Say It” provides a competitive forum for that knowledge, and does it with a simple system that never hinders your experience. While that is an experience that I find is best enjoyed with a group of personal friends as opposed to a random online gathering (much like a “Rock Band” session), if you have that group of equally pop culture obsessed buddies available, it’s incredibly fun to find yourself in a forever-ongoing back and forth of “spot that reference” with a well implemented reward system furthering your efforts.

While it would have been easy for “Sing it, Say it” to be a soulless “Draw Something” knock off, instead it feels like an idea that was spawned by a simple gathering of friends wanting to share a game of trivia we’ve all played before with others as well. It’s not quite as dynamic and addictive as the mega hit “Draw Something,” but that casual fun feeling that frames the entire experience is more than enough to have me singing this apps praises, and saying that it’s my app of the week.

  

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Zynga and the death of Draw Somehing

As a gamer and more specifically a lover of indie games, my default stance with Zynga is pure revulsion. The company has blatantly and shamelessly cannibalized so many indie hits at this point that I simply will not support any product they produce. The latest title to join my blacklist is Draw Something, the smash hit from OMGPOP. Zynga recently purchased the company for nearly $200 million, a purchase that drew a lot of raised eyebrows, including my own.

Don’t get me wrong, Draw Something is fun. It’s a perfect recreation of a game I know as Telestrations. In the physical world, Telestrations requires players to sketch a word using a fat-tip, dry-erase marker. The drawings are expectedly bad, but that’s part of the fun. The same is true of Draw Something – human fingers just aren’t precise enough to draw an accurate representation of Kanye West on a smartphone, but they can damn sure mock up some window-shade sunglasses and draw a bar of gold next to a shovel.

But Draw Something doesn’t quite have the magic that makes players stick around after the initial week-long excitement is gone. For me, interactions over Draw Something didn’t create enough of a story. With Telestrations, players pass their drawings around a room. The next person writes the phrase the original artist was trying to sketch. The person of that draws – it’s a game of sketch telephone. The real fun of the game, though, is in the retelling of the drawings. You get to see where players missed the mark. Draw Something is just too easy after a few plays with a new player. You know how they think, how they communicate an idea, and because Draw Something presents a hangman-style letter bank from which to guess, getting the word right is a simple process of elimination.

I could see why Zynga might have initially been interested in Draw Something; the game was pulling 15 million users a day through Facebook alone. It was at the top of the app charts, one of the highest grossing apps around. But just a couple weeks later Facebook traffic fell by half. Despite the company’s recent announcement of a partnership with Dreamworks for ads inside the game, it’s hard to see the Draw Something deal paying out. Even with a nice ad deal, there won’t be enough players in a couple months to make the math work.

I can’t say I’m sad to see Zynga’s stock continue to tumble, but I hope the company’s fall only leaves room for more games to fill its void. For a couple weeks, Draw Something had me connected to friends spread all over the country. If a company that respects IP can swoop in to deliver a lasting version of that experience, I’ll be a happy man.

  

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