Songpop: The New Draw Something…Or Something

It’s with some shame that I admit I spent two hours this weekend playing Song Pop with my girlfriend. In the same room. Wearing headphones. Who said romance was dead?

The same thing happened with Draw Something. You remember Draw Something don’t you? That Pictionary-esque game that was monolithic for all of a weekend, where your friends would constantly send you crudely drawn pictures of Madonna (key feature: conical bra) and you’d send back your own interesting interpretation of Eminem (he did wear a mask and carry a chainsaw at one point didn’t he? Or is it just me who remembers that?)

Anyone who’s anyone will tell you that Songpop is the new Draw Something (including Mark Zuckerberg) – except instead of pictures you try and guess songs from a snippet of audio against a friend (although there’s no rules against using it for duelling purposes against mortal enemies). It’s sort of like the ‘guess the intro’ round in a pub quiz. It’s actually great fun, although it’s a little bit of a reality check for a 21 year old male to realise that he can identify ‘Zombie’ by The Cranberries in 0.9 seconds yet not recognise any of today’s hits.

Social mobile gaming has a huge market, with Draw Something at one point boasting 15 million users. To date, it’s inspired its own television show (which sounds more than a bit like 90s ITV show ‘Win, Lose or Draw’), was the fastest growing mobile game ever (since usurped by that other titan of mobile gaming, Angry Birds Space) and led Zynga to shell out $200m to buy OMGPop. Songpop isn’t doing too badly either, dominating the app charts at the moment in the same way its drawing-based cousin once did.

There’s a strong emphasis on ‘once did’ in that last sentence. Just like you probably gave up on ‘Draw Something’ after the 500th drawing of Pikachu, so did lots of other users. Nearly 5 million of them in fact. In a month. More than the entire population of Ireland! It’s important to emphasise that Draw Something hasn’t completely collapsed under the weight of a new owner and the introduction of advertising categories – it still boasts millions of daily users. But still, it’s a huge loss and one that undoubtedly keeps the Zynga executive who sanctioned that $200m deal up at night.

It remains to be seen whether Songpop goes the way of Draw Something. The obvious conclusion, given their similarities, is that it will. However, the creators of Songpop have clearly made a concerted effort to keep users going for longer in the wake of the mass Draw Something exodus.

Like Draw Something, every game rewards users with coins (one for a loss, three for a victory) which can be spent in the shop. Unlike Draw Something however, which offered the ‘reward’ of new colours and ‘passes’, Songpop offers new playlists. With some of the more obscure genres like Metal available for 250 coins, it does offer some incentive to keep going.

There’s also some kind of experience system not dissimilar to that of games like Final Fantasy, in which you earn ‘experience’ and new songs for successful guesses. It’s an interesting idea but it’s unclear how much you earn for each successful guess. It does seem to take a long time however, and FreshPlanet seem to have overlooked the fact that this ‘grinding’ system actually defeats the entire point of the game – even if you don’t know who Drake is, you will know exactly what his particular song sounds like after five times leading to Songpop becoming more of a memory game than a test of your musical knowledge.

Games like Draw Something and Songpop are great for gaining a lot of users quickly but having a poor retention rate. I don’t think there have been any real examples of this sort of high initial impact social gaming being used for marketing purposes, but I think it offers a quite interesting prospect for a viral social media campaign.

Gamification as a concept has been popular for a while now (we’ve used it in a campaign for Buffalo) but a lot of brands seem happy to stick to GPS, foursquare-style games. It would be interesting to see what a company with the time and resources to invest in a ‘Draw Something’-type game could come up with as a marketing tool. Maybe a ‘guess the model’ sort of game for Ferrari? Eras of fashion for TopShop? As they won’t have any incentive to keep the game going long-term (the next big thing is always round the corner, remember), using a Draw Something/Songpop-style game wouldn’t actually be that financially risky.

It’ll be intriguing to see if many companies pick up on the huge user numbers these ‘high impact’ social mobile games draw in and see that as an opportunity to develop their own, or as seems to be the case with ‘Draw Something’ (logos and companies now come up in your artistic choices), try and impose themselves on current success stories. For the sake of creativity, I hope it’s the former.

Chris Smith
  • Written by on 27th June 2012 at 09:24
  • “Chris Smith is a copywriter and social media manager at Fluid Creativity.”
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  • London PR

    I found the novelty of Song Pop wore off fast.

  • London PR

    I found the novelty of Song Pop wore off fast.

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