Oh, how fun. Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) and Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) have teamed up to bring classic word game Scrabble to social-networking site Facebook and gaming site Pogo.com. The only problem? They're a little late to the game.

You may remember a popular Facebook application called Scrabulous. Last January, Hasbro got bent out of shape about Scrabulous, which was created by two brothers who didn't like the versions of Scrabble they could play online.

Hasbro was not amused by Scrabulous (nor was Mattel (NYSE:MAT), which owns the rights to distribute the game abroad) and cried "infringement," but the "unauthorized" nature of the game didn't make it any less popular with fans, who petitioned to save the game and threatened a boycott of the toy companies.

At the time, I decided the word for Hasbro and Mattel's original response to Scrabulous was "dumb" -- after all, the success of a Scrabble-inspired game might seem like a long shot compared to other dominating games these days. Take World of Warcraft (soon to be the toast of Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI)), EA's Madden games, or Take-Two Interactive's (NASDAQ:TTWO) Grand Theft Auto franchise.

Still, the angst over Scrabble and its heir apparent is starting to seem like one heck of a battle royal. And it doesn't sound like Hasbro and Mattel or their partners EA and RealNetworks (NASDAQ:RNWK) have had anywhere near as victorious a moment as setting "quixotic" down on two triple-word squares.  

Back in January, I thought a partnership or some other kind of deal might make everybody happy. Granted, since then, rumor has it that attempts to buy Scrabulous were hampered by the Agarwalla brothers, who wanted more money than the companies were willing to pay.

"Better late than never" may not even apply for EA's and Hasbro's Scrabble. A Silicon Alley Insider post said an international version of Scrabble from Mattel and RealNetworks launched in April, and so far, it has about 5,600 active daily users. Compare that to the 450,000 daily users for Scrabulous. Yeah ... it's easy to question whether the U.S. version will fare much better.

Regardless of whether you side with the copyright holders on this one, one lesson is clear: If a company doesn't innovate quick, somebody else will. And if that somebody else quickly gains a loyal fan base, well, look out. What's another word for "lost opportunity"?