The Perfect App – "Draw Something" Sketches Excellence

“But quality of work can be expected only through personal satisfaction, dedication and enjoyment. In our profession, precision and perfection are not a dispensable luxury, but a simple necessity.” – Niklaus Wirth

Draw Something

Something Like a Phenomenon

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you’ve seen Draw Something firmly entrenched at the top of both the Paid and Free app store charts. This app is described as “pictionary for the iPhone” and works by having one person draw while the other person guesses what that drawing is. The app launched in early February and has already garnered 20+ Million downloads, which is more than Four Square and almost as many as Instagram. That’s legit.
What’s even more legit is the fact that they’re pulling in six figures.
A day.
Yup – they’re doing $100,000+ in revenue every 24 hours. This is some serious cash and this game is riding a tidal wave of viral sharing.
Why this app? Why did Draw Something take off in a way that is shattering all records to date? What’s so special about this that no one else has? Here’s my take on it.

Sick-if-i-cation – the process of taking a great idea and making it even sicker

In my previous blog posts and in my ebook I talk a lot about the difference between being first to market/protecting your idea vs taking an existing idea and being the best. I’m very much on the side of the fence that is all about greatness and being the best, which is exactly what the folks over at OMGPOP (creators of Draw Something) did. They took Pictionary, the family friendly household game and made it that much better. They put it in the palm of your hand. The designs for Draw Something are vibrant and engaging, playing nicely between comic goofiness and seriously developed game play.
They took Pictionary and made it awesome.
If they had skimped on the development and design of this, the app would be just another game. It would never have achieved that tipping point that brought the success it has seen. This, in my opinion, is the #1 reason why they are winning so hard.

Wahhh….Play With Meeeee!

You can play Angry Birds until you’re blue in the face all by yourself, but you can’t play Draw Something unless you have someone else. We’re all social creatures and, given the choice, would rather play with people we know than with total strangers. This basic psychology brings with it a powerful marketing mechanism – the “word of mouth” effect.
The CEO of OMGPOP said that they supplemented the launch with some paid marketing and advertising on their own company website. This drove approximately 40,000 downloads. The rest is history – the word of mouth took over and things went totally hog wild, exploding to millions of users in a matter of weeks.
Guess what drove that word of mouth marketing? The first 40,000 people sitting around with their friends saying “hey, download this app so that we can play together.”


Incorporating a currency system into your app is the #1 way, hands down, to make insane amounts of money. Look at the Top Grossing apps and you’ll see what I mean – they’re either currency based games, gambling, or at the top of the Paid Apps list. A strong currency model + downloads = massive revenue.
Draw Something built in a fun currency system that actually makes sense. You enhance your game play options by being able to purchase additional colors or subtract letters from the choices. It’s inviting and appeals to anyone playing the game.
Having a strong revenue stream from an app that has this kind of widespread appeal is incredible hard to do, and these guys nailed it.

Incentivized Social Media

When you boot up Draw Something, you have to put in your email address or your Facebook information. You’re “in” their system with a username and are free to start cranking out drawings as you see fit. When you start to make drawings and playing the game, you’ll notice how easy it is to share the drawing on Twitter and others.
More importantly, you’ll see how fun it is to share these drawings.
Personally, I think that there is a huge point to be made that these drawings are done with your friends or other people. These are not just funny sketches someone made on a basic drawing app – they are usually funny and made both people laugh or connect in some other way. It feels much more like a light and fun process to upload a picture you made from playing with someone than it does to upload something you made yourself. It’s just a great case study for determining what people are likely to upload.

Diesel Power

I think it needs to be said that this app functions like a bullet train. It is amazing to interact with – the flow, the integrations, the seamless experience of beautifully written code. It can handle millions of people playing the app, creating almost 3,000 drawings a second, without ever missing a beat. The whole app has 40 people dedicated to keeping it up and running and it shows. The app is unstoppable.

How Much Does It Cost To Make An App Like Draw Something?

If you’re on this blog, chances are you’ve read the blog post I wrote about the cost of building an app and are saying to yourself, “You know, I’d like an app that makes $100,000 a day. I wonder how much it would cost to build Draw Something?” Well, I would ballpark this costing at least $200K to do it the right way.
With a project of this magnitude, you’ll want to work with a power house development shop that can handle all aspects of the process – planning, design, development, testing, publishing, marketing. You’ll need to come up with an idea that is equally titanic as “Pictionary for iPhone” and will need at least 10 months to block off.
Impossible? Heck no, but it’s a huge project. This is not something I would ever outsource – I would want to partner with the best of the best.

Perfection is Greatness

I would call this a perfect app because of how successful it became on nothing more than it’s impeccable planning and execution. It combined winning business logic with fun….and then some. Instagram is awesome, but it doesn’t have a solid revenue model yet. Draw Something is for anyone, taps into all markets, and gets money from anyone playing it.
OMGPOP – kudos to you.


  1. david
  2. carvin winans
  3. Jonathan
  4. Jacob
  5. Martin
  6. Michael Emens
  7. Lawrence
  8. Willie
  9. Koploand
  10. david
  11. Jodie
  12. Charles N.

Leave a Reply