Draw Something review: The best way to show bad art

Draw Something has enjoyed a lot of buzz over the last couple of weeks, but what's the big deal? It's basically just a mobile version of Pictionary, after all.

Draw Something has been a whirlwind success over the last month, culminating in the purchase of its developer, OMGPOP, by Zynga earlier this week. Draw Something's popularity is really pretty astonishing, considering how simple the game is. If you haven't had a chance to try it out, here's the premise: you draw something, and your friend tries to guess what it is.

Whoever is drawing gets to chose between easy, medium, and hard subjects. Once they've picked one, they get to drawing, using a set of different-sized pens and a small selection of colors. Once completed, you send off the image to your partner, and they get to watch your entire creative process - including the times you wipe the whole board and start again from scratch. They have a few different letters and tile slots to work with, which adds a Scrabble-esque word game element to it. Once the receiving end submits their answer, you can watch the result; much like how they got to see the replay of your shoddy drawing technique, you get to watch them struggle with their letter set and try to guess what it is you're drawing. Both sides earn a corresponding number of coins to spend on unlockables, like new paint colours, or bombs which provide a new set of options to draw, or destroy some letter tiles to make your guessing process easier. Those coins can also be bought with real cash through in-app purchases.

Like a lot of the games I've been playing on the iPhone lately, I've found the display is too small for fine detail. It definitely made me wish I was playing with the Samsung Galaxy Note again, since that stylus and big screen sure would come in handy. Still, it's funny seeing what kind of mangled, haphazard pieces of art you're able to cook up, if only to watch your friends struggle with the piece of crap you've given them. (N.B. It is entirely likely that I am just a terrible finger-painter.) As it stands, the gameplay is generally good enough, though I've found some rounds have been hard to match up; either I don't get the notification after a friend has done their drawing, or I do, but no button shows up to see what they've got. For the time being, I'm willing to chalk this up to OMGPOP's servers buckling under the traffic, and with any luck, Zynga's acquisition will bolster their back-end. Considering you're watching a replay of the drawing process, I would like to get some bonus points for correct guesses early, which could be counterbalanced by penalties for wrong guesses.

There are a few features that would be nice to have, like an archive of your previous drawings - after all, you do end up spending a lot of time on some of these, so it's a shame to have them swept under the carpet after your turn is over. Game Center support is an obvious addition they have yet to include, along with running multiple games concurrently with the same person, like you can in Hero Academy. Some kind of chat utility would be really great, that way one could properly express their confusion to their partner when confronted with a particularly bad piece of work. Right now all you can do is draw messages in the art area then clear the page. There's a whole range of artistic tools that could be expanded, including different styles of brushes, and varying levels of opacity. The game uses Facebook Connect to create your account, but it seems like the real money maker will be when Draw Something becomes a proper web game on Facebook. As is, the interoperability with Android devices is great, and if they can keep that up for desktop, Draw Something could quickly gain widespread popularity among soccer moms who don't know Facebook is for anything other than games.

At its core, I feel like Draw Something is ultimately a game where people laugh at one another for being unable to put together simple shapes or form words. While not everybody will enjoy in that level of schadenfreude, jerks like me revel in it. I worry a little bit that the fad will dry up though; you might remember when Facebook first introduced apps, one of the most popular ones was Graffiti, which let you create and share digital drawings with friends. That didn't last too long, and I think even with a game spin to it, Draw Something may fizzle out too. With Zynga now behind Draw Something, I expect the updates to be coming fast and furious, but in the long run, buying out whichever game is momentarily more popular than whatever they're creating doesn't seem like a sustainable strategy. Between the free ad-supported version and the highly-affordable $1.99 version, plus unobtrusive prompts for microtransactions, the barrier for entry is low, and if you've got a bunch of friends already playing, then you've got some impetus to give Draw Something a try.

The Good

  • Accessible gameplay
  • Popularity means plentiful partners
  • Entertaining replays

The Bad

  • Potential for embarassingly bad art
  • Limited variety of unlockables
  • Those with bigger screens are at an advantage


It massive popularity will probably be the biggest reason to try it out, and even with minimal artistic skills, your travesties of finger-painting can still be pretty entertaining. Though the microtransaction options are limited, they're unobtrusive, and with a free ad-supported version, there's little reason not to play.

$1.99 - Download Draw Something (opens in new tab)

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Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

  • LMAO!! "•Potential for embarassingly bad art" should also be listed under the "The Good" category as well. I've come accross some hilarious and probably accidentally inappropriate drawings while playing Draw Something too! Sometimes drawings are so bad, they good!
  • A little overboard on the comment of wanting to go out and buy a galaxy note, but perhaps I just took that one too seriously. Fact is, no matter what mobile device used, it's not really going to make much of a difference, and from what I've come to notice, all drawing apps are difficult to impossible on a mobile device.
    I will say, I consider myself to be spoiled playing it on my iPad with a stylus rather than on my phone with a finger (how I originally started). People probably hate how long my drawings take me to complete or get to the point, as well as how in depth they are (yup, I'm one of those people). Anyway, the con is that my tablet doesn't go everywhere with me like my phone does, and it's just not the same experience that you get on an iPad.
    As far as the missing features, as soon as zynga took over I received an email from Draw Something stating the changes they are planning to make in the very near future, and if they do what they said they're going to do, it will include all of the above and then some.
    I personally like not having the chat within the app. It adds to the challenge of the game. I also must point out that despite the game stats given, there really is no keeping score with anyone but yourself, leaving the goal to be buying more fun colors with your coins...which I like. It means the game is strictly for fun, and sometimes that's exactly how a game should be! And I love the craptastic drawings that you get from the non-artistic people. It allows everyone to enjoy social drawing for sheets and geegles, just because.
    Yes, I can see this app having a short, fad-like life span, but at the same time, look at the new Angry Birds Space app! It just proves that as long as you keep a creative and innovative direction of constantly thinking forward, there are ways to make it last, at least longer than expected.
    Ah. Sorry about all of that!!
  • This game is great, it's highly addictive and as soon as you show someone what it's like- they'll get instantly hooked. It's not every day when a game comes around and has this affect- so kudos while the wave still rides through.
    It is quite a phenomenon.
  • I was a big fan of this game at first but I'm already bored with it. there needs to be a way for the game to end once and a while. and the ability to disable your name from being found for random games would be great.
  • It's alot of fun, I need more people to play with.
  • Charadium 2 is a much better game. Does all of the things that you have mentioned draw something should. Also has different gameplay modes. Ping pong being pretty much the same as draw something. All draw something has going for it is the sheer number of people playing.
  • @Festivelton
    The difference between Draw Something and the other games u suggested us obvious...it's POPULARITY. who the heck knows what Charadium is. Lol and Facebook hooks up with draw something so ya.
  • Wait..I thought it was $0.99?
  • Don't play with random people. Some one drew a gun and said I'll kill you. There is no way I can find to terminate a match with someone. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling but the match was still saved. Also, people cheat by writing the word.
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