Drawing Game App Like Draw Something

Building a Drawing Game App Like Draw Something App

Estimated read time: 9 minutes

Interested in building a drawing game app like the Draw Something app? 

This is a good market that has lots of room for innovation. In this article, we will discuss how you can engage in this growing market by developing a mobile application similar to the Draw Something app.

For this, first, we will review the Draw Something app to get an idea of what it offers to its users. 

An Introduction to Draw Something App

Draw Something is a popular mobile app, and this was launched in 2012 by OMGPop, a game studio. The app quickly gained popularity, moreover, it won key awards. Zynga, a gaming company subsequently purchased the game as well as OMGPop.

The app is a very interesting social drawing game, and at the time of writing, users of this app have created over 7 billion drawings using this app.

Users don‘t need artistic skills in drawing. The game supports doodles and stick figures. Once you select a word, you challenge friends to make a guess, draw, and share them with you. 

There are continuously new and updated words related to science, pop culture, etc. to challenge friends for a quick match. The premium version offers ad-free gameplay.

Users’ paintings also get featured on their Facebook page. Although, the user’s personal data is subject to Zynga’s privacy policy.

Mobile drawing game apps enjoy high popularity and the Draw Something app had 50 million downloads within 50 days of its launch making it the most popular drawing game.

Read “Inside Draw Something‘s perfect storm: from the brink to 50 million installs in 50 days: with Wilson Kriegel, CEO of HrtBeat Audio” for more information on its popularity among friends and family exchanging doodle art.

Draw Something belongs to the larger games category of mobile apps, and this category has the highest popularity. In 2021, mobile gaming generated $90.7 billion in revenue, which was half of the global gaming revenue in that year.


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Read “Games rule the app stores: most popular genres revealed” for more information.

The features of the Draw Something App

Draw Something is available on Android and iOS, and it offers the following features:

  • App users can practice drawing fun pictures using this app.
  • There is a turn-based drawing feature, where users take turns drawing and showing it to their friends. They are also able to make new friends with other artists through daily challenges.
  • There‘s a “Guess Something” mode, where one player can guess what others are drawing.
  • The app features a great list of words, using which players can continue playing this guessing game in Guess Mode.
  • Users can access a range of colors for their doodle art. They can also unlock color packs for a better painting experience. Moreover, they can earn badges when they unlock achievements. 
  • The app offers in-app purchases, and it has a great “User Interface” (UI).

How to Create a Drawing Game App Like Draw Something App?

A software development project to build a drawing game app like Draw Something involves the following steps:

1. Agree on a software development methodology

You are building a mobile app, which is a customer-facing tool. We call these apps “Systems of Engagement” (SoEs), and such projects use the iterative development approach.

Entrepreneurs launch a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) first, and then they enhance it based on the feedback from the market. Agile is the right methodology for such projects, as I have earlier explained in “Waterfall vs Agile: which methodology is right for your project”.

2. Define the project scope to make an app like Draw Something

I recommend that you define the project scope as follows:

Build an iOS and an Android app.

Include features like drawing tools, social sharing, text chat, in-app purchases, and online payment. You need to also include push notifications to engage your users.

Launch in one geography to start with.

Note: You should design and build the app in a way that makes future expansion into other geographies easier. This requires you to use “app internationalization” guidelines, e.g., keeping the code separate from the content. Learn more about app internationalization in “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization”.

3. Formulate a development approach

I recommend that you use the following development approach:

Use a “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) platform for managing the mobile app backend, which also frees you up from cloud infrastructure management.

Utilize “Software Development Kits” (SDKs) and “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs) to implement core features like drawing tools, text chat with friends, in-app purchases, online payment, and push notifications.

Make use of “Integrated Development Environments” (IDEs) and frameworks to expedite the project.

4. Build your project team

The development team for this project needs the following roles:

  • Business analysts;
  • UI designers;
  • Android developers with Kotlin skills;
  • iOS developers with Swift expertise;
  • Testers;
  • A project manager (PM).

You don’t need a mobile backend developer or a cloud platform architect since you are using an MBaaS platform.

I recommend the scrum technique for this project, which works well for agile projects. The PM should perform the “scrum master” role, and build small, cross-functional “scrum teams”. These teams will work on iterations, called “sprints” in the scrum parlance.

You can read more about scrum in “How to build a scrum development team?”.

5. Sign-up for an MBaaS platform for developing an app like Draw Something

You would like to get going with the development quickly, and not spend time on IT infrastructure management. I recommend using an MBaaS platform since you will get the following advantages:

MBaaS providers manage the cloud infrastructure, persistent storage, etc., therefore, you can focus on the front-end and business logic.

While mobile app development can be complex due to the variety of mobile platforms and devices, using an MBaaS platform helps in managing this complexity.

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You can integrate 3rd party APIs, implement security features, and incorporate user management easier when you use an MBaaS platform.

Scaling a mobile app is easier with an MBaaS platform.

I have explained these advantages earlier in “How to Choose the Best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”. I recommend Kumulos, a reputed MBaaS platform, for this project.

6. Find an API solution for a drawing tool

Providing a comprehensive set of drawing tools to users is the most important feature of this app, and I recommend that you use the solution from Adobe for this. Note the following quick facts about this solution:

  • “Adobe Creative Cloud” APIs enable access to Adobe Illustrator, a comprehensive drawing tool.
  • These APIs allow access to other reputed Adobe tools like CC Storage, Photoshop, Animate, etc.
  • You can read about Adobe APIs here.

Adobe also offers extensive documentation about its APIs, and you can find it here.

7. Get an API solution for text chat

App users would like to play the drawing game by coordinating with their friends, therefore, a text chat solution will help here. I recommend that you use Mesibo, an excellent provider of chat APIs and SDKs. The development team can access the following resources to use this service:

You can check out Mesibo pricing plans here.

8. Use an eCommerce API solution for the in-app purchase feature

Implementing the in-app purchase feature is easier with an eCommerce solution, therefore, I recommend that you use BigCommerce in this project. BigCommerce has a robust API solution that offers the relevant eCommerce features, and there is extensive documentation.

You can check out their pricing plans here.

9. Find a payment gateway API solution

You will need an API solution to implement the online payment feature, and Stripe has the right solution for this. You can use the following resources for implementing this solution:

Stripe has published their pricing plans here.

10. Get a bulk SMS API solution

The app needs push notifications to engage users, therefore, I recommend that you a bulk SMS solution for this. You can sign-up with Twilio, and get its “Programmable SMS” solution.

Twilio offers excellent documentation for its API solution, and you can access it here and here. Check out their pricing plans here.

11. Find the required development tools

You need the following “Integrated Development Environments” (IDEs) for this project:

Android Studio, for Android app development;

Xcode, for the iOS app development.

You also need an enabler for testing the mobile app, so that you can access a wide range of mobile devices on the cloud.

Experitest offers its “Mobile device and browsers lab” on the cloud, which you can use for this. You can also use its “SeeTest Reporter”, which provides excellent test reports and analytics.

13. Use the platform-specific guidelines for the mobile app UI design

It‘s now time to start the mobile app UI design. There are different guidelines for Android and iOS app UI design, therefore, your UI design team should consult the following resources:

Human Interface Guidelines” for the iOS app UI design;

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“Material design” guidelines for the Android app UI design.

14. Use the right mobile navigation menu pattern

There are several popular mobile navigation menu patterns, and you need to choose the right one for the UI design. I recommend that you use the “Hamburger menu” since this menu pattern helps users to focus on the most important feature of the app.

Drawing is the most important feature in the drawing game app that you building, and Hamburger menu will help users focus on that. Read more about this in “Mobile navigation menu examples”.

15. Find the appropriate color scheme for the mobile app UI

The drawing game app you are building will require its users to understand the workflow. They would guess what others are drawing and share their own drawings. The UI will need some illustrations, and you should choose an appropriate mobile app UI color scheme for this.

“Colorful illustrations” is the appropriate color scheme for this app. You can read “8 trends in mobile app color scheme” for more guidance on this.

16. Design icons for the mobile app by following the appropriate best practices

As a next step, you need to design icons for the mobile app UI. For effective design, use the following best practices:

  • Keep the design simple and restrained.
  • Design recognizable icons that are easy to remember.
  • Use the right tools for icon design, e.g., Adobe Photoshop.
  • Study similar apps that have high popularity, and follow the practices used there.
  • Ensure that the icon looks good on various mobile platforms/devices, against different backgrounds, and irrespective of its size.
  • Maintain consistency with the overall UI design, and follow platform-specific guidelines.
  • Use established icon/functionality associations, like a pencil for drawing.
  • Differentiate your icons sufficiently, and limit the number of symbols in icons.

You can read our guide “How to design the perfect icon for your mobile app?” to learn more about these best practices.

17. Develop the Android app

You should use Kotlin to develop the Android app, since it offers several advantages, e.g.:

  • Kotlin has a lightweight library, which helps in coding fast and performant apps.
  • This open-source language has a concise syntax, which helps a developer achieve productivity.
  • Kotlin offers powerful features, which help in avoiding common coding errors like null pointer exception.

I have earlier explained the advantages of using Kotlin in “Kotlin vs Java: which is the best choice?”.

Developing an Android app involves the following steps:

  • Use Android Studio to code the app, following “Get started with Kotlin on Android” for guidance.
  • Integrate Adobe, mesibo, BigCommerce, Stripe, and Twilio SDKs/APIs in your app.
  • Test the app using Espresso, and the Experitest mobile device lab on the cloud.
  • You can follow this guide, for publishing the app to Google Play.

18. Code, test, and publish the iOS app

The work stream of iOS app development involves the following steps:

  • Use Swift, the popular language for iOS development. This language has powerful features that offer high productivity, moreover, apps coded in Swift are easier to maintain. Swift enables bug-free coding, furthermore, you can code fast and performant apps using it.
  • Code the app using Xcode, and integrate SDKs and APIs for the key features like a drawing tool, text chat, in-app purchase, etc.
  • You can use XCTest, and the Experitest mobile device lab on the cloud to test the app.
  • Publish the app to the Apple App Store, by consulting this guide.

19. Use an effective PM tool

A scrum team has several key activities, e.g.:

  • The team estimates and prioritizes requirements in “sprint planning meetings”.
  • The scrum master gathers the project status in “daily stand-up meetings”, and resolves issues.
  • Business stakeholders approve a sprint in a “sprint review meeting” after the team demonstrates the app.
  • You should use a robust tool to manage these activities, and Jira is a great choice for this.

Planning to Build a Drawing Game App Like Draw Something App?

This guide elaborates on platforms, APIs, SDKs, IDEs, and frameworks that will help in the development, however, the market for mobile game apps is highly competitive. Building an app that stands out could be complex, and you might need to take professional help.

Read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” before you engage a development partner.

If you, as a business CEO or CTO, are still looking for an experienced and competent software development partner, then DevTeam.Space can help you via its field-expert software developers community.

You can easily partner with these high-quality mobile app developers by sending us your product specifications via this quick form and one of our account managers will get back to you for further assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions on App like Draw Something

1. What are the most popular drawing games?

 Draw Something Classic, Bamboo Paper, and Draw Rider.

2. How to make a drawing game with App Lab?

Provided that you have experience with JavaScript then coding a simple drawing game in App Lab is relatively straightforward. However, if you want your game to stand out then you should include lots of more extensive features.

3. How to build a drawing game?

You can build a simple drawing game app using App Lab, however, if you want to create a great game then you will need to onboard developers who have experience in building such software products. Send your product specification to DevTeam.Space and we can connect you with such developers.


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