SAN FRANCISCO - Videogame colossus Electronic Arts said Tuesday an online Scrabble game customized for Facebook will be released this month to challenge the popular unauthorized version Scrabulous.
A free Scrabulous software application is the top game on the hot social networking website and boasts more than 500,000 users daily.
The success of Scrabulous nettles game makers Hasbro and Mattel, which share ownership of the Scrabble trademark and have demanded that Facebook remove the renegade version of its game from the website.
Hasbro teamed with the world's largest videogame maker to create a sanctioned Scrabble game that began private testing Monday at Facebook and should be publicly available later this month.
"Hasbro, together with EA, is eager to share our expertise and technological know-how by bringing a genuine Scrabble experience to fans throughout the US and Canada," said Hasbro digital media and gaming director.
Scrabble can be played online at EA-run game website www.pogo.com and there are versions tailored for mobile telephones and iPod MP3 players.
"We're delighted to be bringing communities everywhere access to one of their favorite games," said EA's general manager of Hasbro Games Chip Lange.
"Scrabble is one of the best social game brands in existence."
Brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla say they launched Scrabulous.com in 2005 "after we saw a lack of free user-friendly websites for playing Scrabble."
The software developing duo based in the city of Kolkata in India made an "add-on" application to play Scrabulous on Facebook, where it is a hit.
The Agarwalla brothers say in public reports that they expect fans to remain loyal to Scrabulous, from which the siblings earn advertising revenues.