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Why they are changing Scrabble to make it less ‘intimidating’

Scrabble is getting a bit of a makeover, at least in Europe.

Apr 10, 2024, updated Apr 10, 2024
This photo provided by Mattel shows the new version of the board game Scrabble, that includes a new version called Scrabble Together “for anyone who finds word games intimidating." (Mattel via AP)

This photo provided by Mattel shows the new version of the board game Scrabble, that includes a new version called Scrabble Together “for anyone who finds word games intimidating." (Mattel via AP)

Mattel has unveiled a double-sided board that features both the classic word-building game and Scrabble Together, a new rendition designed to be accessible “for anyone who finds word games intimidating.”

This new version, which is now available across Europe, is advertised as being more team-oriented and quicker to play. The update marks the first significant change to Scrabble’s board in more than 75 years, Mattel said.

“We want to ensure the game continues to be inclusive for all players,” Mattel vice president Ray Adler said in a statement.

Scrabble Together is marketed toward players of all ages. Jim Silver, a toy-industry expert and CEO of review site TTPM, said the double-sided board is a smart approach because it allows players to switch from one mode to another as they wish.

Mattel’s announcement was also accompanied by a survey that offered a glimpse into some of the ways British consumers have previously tackled classic Scrabble.

London-based market researcher Opinion Matters found that 75 per cent of UK adults aged 25 to 34 have searched a word when playing the board-and-tile game to check if it’s real. And almost half (49 per cent) reported trying to make up a new word in hopes of winning.

Whether the new version will expand beyond Europe one day remains to be seen. While Mattel, which is based in El Segundo, California, owns the rights to Scrabble around much of the world, Hasbro licenses the game in the US, for example.

“Mattel and Hasbro have worked separately to develop different versions of Scrabble every year,” Silver said. As a result, some versions are only available in certain countries, creating a “interesting dynamic” for avid fans of the game, he added.

Scrabble’s origins date back to 1931, when American architect Alfred Mosher Butts invented the game’s forerunner. Scrabble’s original name was Lexiko, according to Mattel, and before officially getting the Scrabble title and trademark in 1948, Butts’ creation was also called Criss-Crosswords, It and Alph.

Today, Scrabble is produced in 28 different languages. More than 165 million games have been sold in 120 countries around the world since 1948, according to Mattel, with an average of 1.5 million games sold globally each year.

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