Words With Friends Creator Zynga Debuts Word Pop Voice Game for Alexa

A new Alexa skill is bringing the popular Words With Friends game to the realm of voice apps. Zynga announced the release of the new Word Pop game on Wednesday, translating its Scrabble-style mobile game for the voice assistant.

Words With Alexa

Words With Friends was a huge success for Zynga when it launched about a decade ago. Word Pop seeks to emulate that success with a voice game designed to evoke the same interest as Zynga’s earlier creation. The nature of the medium makes Word Pop immediately different from Words With Friends, however, with only the voice assistant to play against in the game. When a player asks Alexa to play Word Pop, the voice assistant reads out six letters which the player then uses to create as many words as they can in one minute. The words can either be spoken or spelled out and points are earned based on how many words are built and how many letters they contain.  Word Pop is only playable through Alexa at the moment.

“I’m thrilled that by adding Word Pop to the Words With Friends family, players will be able to test and improve their word skills, making them even better Words With Friends players,” Zynga president of publishing Bernard Kim said in a statement. “The beauty of Words With Friends is that even after ten years, we’re still discovering new ways for the franchise to bring joy to players around the world. We’re dedicated to experimenting with services such as Alexa and game modes like Word Pop, which gives players a familiar, yet novel experience.”

Game On

Playing games has always been a popular use for voice assistants, one that is growing quickly and evolving in new directions. Both Amazon and Google are encouraging developers to come up with new voice apps, and a good game is a reliable source of income for developers, especially if they add things to purchase to the game. That’s one reason Amazon has been pushing to the option for voice app monetization to more countries and offers incentives to developers who create premium purchase and subscription options.

Voice gaming is still relatively new, but its potential is evident in the early success of startups like Labworks and DriveTime. Labworks raised about $640,000 earlier this year for a subscription voice game service, while DriveTime has $15 million in investment for its line of games. There’s also a lot of interest in integrating voice technology into video games as the next generation of Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation will likely offer voice interactions. The Google Stadia video game controller already comes with a microphone to talk to Google Assistant, even if it is only beginning to experiment with that element. Word Pop is nowhere near that elaborate, but Words With Friends and Zynga have a long and impressive record when it comes to building enthusiasm for its games. The company likely sees voice games as the next home for the casual games that earned it so much money, and Amazon is no doubt happy to have Alexa host this and future Zynga games.

“We’re very excited to have a global leader in mobile games like Zynga create a new voice-based game based on such an entertaining franchise like Words With Friends,” Alexa director Steve Bernstein said in a statement. “Customers love playing games on Alexa and we’re excited to bring this new experience to them, testing their word knowledge in a fun and challenging way.”


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