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Zynga’s Hanging With Friends is Highly Addictive… and Buggy as All Hell

Published July 8, 2011 - 6 Comments

[Update 9 Apr 12: Zynga has come a long way with stabilizing Hanging With Friends, and the issues mentioned in this post are largely a thing of the past.  The game is still highly addictive though!]

Have you tried Zynga‘s latest online game yet?  It’s called Hanging With Friends, and comes from the same family of games as Chess With Friends, and Words With Friends.  Haven’t tried it yet?  What’s wrong with you?!


Hanging With Friends is a new take on the old Hangman game.  It’s a turn-based game designed for iOS users, so if you’re using Android, you’re outta luck (for the time being… maybe in the future that will change).  The idea behind the game is a simple one… using the letters you are given, create a word that your opponent will then have to guess.  The number of guesses that your opponent has for that word will depend on the length of the word you create.  Longer words allow for fewer guesses, presumably because it’s easier to figure out longer words because there are fewer combinations.  The minimum word length is 4, and it’s amazing how many combinations of 4 letter words you can come up with!

Oh, did I mentioned that while you’re doing this, your avatar is floating above hot lava with helium filled balloons?  No pressure!  You can watch as his/her face changes with each successful or unsuccessful guess.  If your opponent does not guess a word, one of their balloons pops.  When the last balloon pops, it’s into the lava they go!  Yeah.. it’s fun!

Luckily for those of us with poor guessing skills, there are lifelines that you can use to help you.  These can be one of three forms:

  • 4 letters are shown, of which one is guaranteed to be a letter used in the word
  • 4 unused letters are eliminated from play
  • 1 strike (wrong guess) is removed

You can play against your friends, or set up a random opponent.  There’s no shortage of people out there to play against, so I’ve never had a problem finding an opponent.  And despite how easy it would be to cheat in this game, I have only once resigned against an opponent I was convinced was not coming up with words on his own.

So if Hanging With Friends sounds too good to be true… it just might be.  The game is buggy as hell, and feels very much like a product still in beta development.  I can accept that software will always have glitches that need to be ironed out, but Hanging With Friends is full of problems.

  • The server hangs forever some times when you are trying to send your turn
  • The points you make from longer words do not always get added to your total
  • The chat function sometimes tells you that it won’t work, and to check your internet connection (which is obviously working)
  • Even though you still have at least one guess remaining, the game may send your turn as a failed attempt
  • You select a particular game to play, only to be shown a different game from your list
  • Sometimes when you play your turn and the server hangs long enough, it will allow you to replay the turn.  Great if you missed the word the first time, because the word is displayed whether you succeed or not.

So why am I still playing?  Well… if the game wasn’t as fun as it is, I would have removed it from my iPad a long time ago.  I’m hoping that Zynga continues to work through the issues, and release updates that address these problems.  So far the game has been getting better, but it’s still a long way from where it needs to be before I consider it to be stable.

Hanging With Friends comes in 2 versions:  ad-supported, and paid.  I found the ads to be annoying, so I shelled out the $2.99 for an ad-free experience.  Was it worth it?  Reluctantly, yes.  Even with the laundry list of things that need improvement, I still like the game enough to play it without the interruption of advertisements.  Would I recommend that you run out and buy this app?  Hmmm… no.  Try the free version, though!  Give it an honest shake, and then decide whether you want to part with your hard-earned cash.

And don’t forget to look me up online.  I go by the username “Dunnik” and am always looking for worthy opponents to drop into the lava!

[Update 9 Apr 12]

On a related note, I have noticed a real lack of resources and strategies for Hanging With Friends.  Sure you can find an article here or there, but nothing comprehensive.  I’ve decided to take it upon myself to change that!  I am getting close to unveiling my ultimate Hanging With Friends membership site, and offering people the chance now to sign up for instant notification when this goes live.  A few quick notes about the membership site:

  • This is a paid subscription site, and as such a small ($3-5) monthly fee will be charged, but the content will be awesome.  I promise you that!
  • This is not a random word generator site.  Those are for lame players.  I don’t use them, and I won’t promote their use.
  • Your gameplay will improve tenfold.  I guarantee it.  If you’re not playing at a higher level after implementing my proven strategies, contact me for an immediate full refund.  I’m only happy when you’re happy.
  •  You are signing up to be notified when the membership site launches.  This is not a commitment from you to join, only that you are interested in learning more when the time comes.
  • Your email address is sacred, and will not be shared with anyone.  Its sole purpose is to notify you of this launch, and will not be used for anything else.


Thank you for your interest!


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