iOS users rejoiced when Loren Brichter and Atebits returned to indie iOS development. Letterpress, Atebits’ latest app, is an addicting little word game (review).

Letterpess is already a success by almost any measure. It reached #16 in the App Store’s free apps chart and managed to bring Game Center to its knees over the app’s first week of availability.

But I think Letterpress has an opportunity to really shine.

The Problem

Like all of Loren’s software, Letterpress is filled with little touches and flourishes that make it a joy to play. There is one moment in the game, however, that is decidedly not joyous. Zach Waugh explains it in a tweet:

I’ve been playing the game all weekend and have seen plenty of messages like this one that Zach saw:

“Argh!” is right. Refactor is a completely legitimate word in software development circles.

In an ideal world the “Invalid Word” dialog would only display when you misspelled a word or were really making something up, but with how much slang and jargon we use these false positives are all too common.

It looks like some people have even started documenting this phenomenon.

Pain points like this one often present opportunities. Can you see where I’m going with this?

The Solution

Letterpress should offer topical dictionary extensions as in-app purchases.

Want to play “refactor”? Activate the “Software” dictionary. Want to play “Hoth”? Activate the “Star Wars” dictionary. Want to play “Diabetes”? Activate the “Medical” dictionary.

Ad infinitum.

Here’s one way that it could work:

Let’s say that Bob has purchased the “Medical” dictionary. When he starts a new game he selects it (only one per game) and his opponent, Alice, is told that Bob wants to play Letterpress with her using “Medical” terms. Alice doesn’t have to buy the “Medical” dictionary to play Bob, but she does need to if she wants to use it in games that she initiates.

The Effect

  1. Users win because they get to play the game with words they know and love.

  2. Letterpress wins because it stays fresh and fun for much longer than it would otherwise.

  3. Atebits wins because each additional dictionary is a new source of income.

I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like a win-win-win.

Disagree with me? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. Agree with me? Let Loren know on Twitter. Maybe we can convince him that this would be worth his trouble ;)