Zynga, the social games powerhouse behind games like Farmville, made a significant purchase today, scooping up Newtoy, the developers of super-popular iPhone game Words With Friends.
This has us concerned. And not just because Zynga has — and this is serious — renamed the Dallas studio "Zynga with Friends".
No, we are concerned at what this means for one of the world's most popular (if also unheralded) free video games. Because if there's one thing we know about Zynga, it's that it likes to make money, and do it in ways that are cruel and wicked to the people playing its games.
While every attempt has been made to dispel fears that the monetisation of Words With Friends is imminent, how long will it be before we're being charged $0.50 for every consonant we want to use? Or given the option of paying $1.50 to get a day without the letters "X" or "Z"? Or limited to a certain amount of words per day, a limit that can be raised by spending a buck?
Of course, we wouldn't be paying money for that stuff. We'd be paying Zynga Cash. Or, as it'll surely be rebranded for this game, Cash With Friends. Which we can spend on the iPhone version or, of course, the inevitable Facebook port.
And when we spent that Cash With Friends, it wouldn't be on the classy, minimalist board we currently play on. It'd be on an isometric playing field, the letters replaced with small men with massive heads, the letter bonus symbols swapped out for turnips and dollar signs.
Or...maybe we're just mean old men, and love Words With Friends a little too much to take big changes to the game in our stride.