AOL’s First Mobile Game Uses Social Video for a Fresh Take on Draw Something

AOL is launching its first-ever mobile game today: Called Clucks, it provides a new take on the hit game Draw Something by using social video instead of art.

Players record a 12-second video using their phone’s forward-facing camera to provide clues about a word they are describing. The video is then sent to a friend, who is filmed guessing what the word is. The game is free, and will be available later today, after it clears Apple’s approval process.

With Draw Something, the challenge was similar, except players were required to illustrate a picture of a person, place or thing. The mobile game was literally an overnight success, and was downloaded more than 50 million times in 50 days, right when Zynga purchased the company for $180 million.

What assisted Draw Something’s rise in the charts was that players, who were so proud of their rendition of “Rihanna” or a “starfish,” posted their illustrations to Twitter and Facebook.

AOL is hoping for a similar viral effect through a partnership with Viddy, a social video service with 40 million users. Players will be able to share their videos directly on Viddy to show off how amusing or creative they are in describing a word.

One small glitch in the plan is that players are already tiring of the game Draw Something. While it’s still attracting 2.2 million gamers every day, that’s down from 14.4 million in April. Zynga also had to lower its full-year projections because of the app’s quick drop in popularity.

But AOL did come up with a solution to an issue that Draw Something drew criticism for in its earlier days. In Draw Something, nothing stopped players from spelling out the word instead of drawing it. Now, to prevent cheating, AOL will periodically listen in — using Nuance’s voice-recognition technology — to see if players are saying the word. If caught, points will be deducted from a player’s score.

Players can play against their Facebook friends or watch prerecorded clues, which might be nice if you don’t look so hot when you roll out of bed in the morning.

Sony Pictures will be the official launch sponsor of Clucks, which was created by AOL’s “mobile-first” division, which is allowed to experiment with new products for mobile.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus