You know, I've got to hand it to EA. They're really really good at making money. The latest cash cow they've set loose on the App Store pasture is the updated version of Tetris [99¢] which as we mentioned last night isn't an update to the existing Tetris. Instead, it's a new app that everyone will need to purchase, even owners of the original Tetris if they want access to the (admittedly really cool) new features.

Aside from a massive visual overhaul, Tetris now comes with a "one touch" control mode which greatly simplifies playing the game on iOS devices. When a new piece appears, you're given all the locations that you could drop said piece, and instead of steering the piece into place yourself you just tap where you want it to land. It works great, and effectively puts an end to those annoying moments that every single Tetris player has experienced where you drop a piece one block off from where you wanted it, ruining your perfect line-clearing setup.

Unfortunately, for all the cool new additions to Tetris, which would have made the asking price of 99¢ for the upgrade fairly easy to stomach, EA decided to throw in a ridiculous amount of in-app purchase options which weren't initially apparent when we previewed the game. Also, like seemingly everything these days, there's an entirely superfluous leveling up system that rewards you with coins, and challenges that encourage you to round up as many of your friends as possible through Origin.

Coins can be spent on unlocking power-ups as well as new groupings of challenge levels. (Or, "planets" inside of the Tetris "galaxy" as the game refers to them.) Low on coins? No problemo! EA has your back, with bundles of coins that you can buy from 99¢ all the way up to $99.99.

But wait, you're probably thinking to yourself, "You know, buying coins doesn't really appeal to me, but what I always thought Tetris needed was some kind of vague Call of Duty Elite-like service I could subscribe to!" Well, we're on the same page, and thankfully, EA is as well. It's called the "T-Club", and members can join for $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year. Doing so will reward you a permanent bonus of earning 15% more coins and lines in game, as long as your subscription is valid. EA has also made mention of "exclusive discounts and content" for T-Club members as well.

This just seems to be the near-perfect representation of everything that is wrong with gaming these days. Tetris is an absolute classic of the highest order, and throughout my lifetime I couldn't even begin go estimate the hours days worth of play time I've sunk into the game. To take such a timeless game that has always (save a few spinoffs) been about simplicity and adding all of these extraneous systems to juice more money out of the player just feels incredibly wrong.

I guess the good news is that all of the IAP, as well as the Origin integration does seem fairly optional if all you want to do is play the classic game of Tetris, but still. This trend of taking a game, releasing a barebones version of it, and giving players the ability to spend an unlimited amount of money through IAP and now subscriptions is a trend that really, really needs to go away before it gets even further out of control.

  • Adams Immersive

    The bright side, for those of us who already have the original iOS Tetris: this one is bound to go on sale (maybe permanently) for free, if EA is serious about milking IAP as the game’s main revenue stream.

    Also note that it’s not Universal. I hope that changes, rather than an iPad-only version showing up, asking me to buy Tetris a fourth time! Good thing the old Tetris (which I do recommend) is still available for iPad. (It seems to have vanished for iPhone.)

    • Anonymous

      I thought they pulled the original iOS Tetris. Am I mistaken?

      • Adams Immersive

        For iPhone, apparently so (this replaces it). The original Tetris for iPad is still sold, though. (I’d expect that to go away if they ever make this new version for iPad).

    • Anonymous

      I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for EA to give iOS any proper support (Universal, iCloud, Game Center). They've always ignored consumer-friendly features and now that they have their Origin "service", you'll likely never see anything else. EA just isn't worth anyone's time on iOS; there are so many, way better devs out there.

  • http://twitter.com/drelbs drelbs

    Wow, so I can re-buy the game AND purchase IAP?

    Sorry guys, not this time.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GHIIHTRJXIOZCAF2GESNKZH264 himanshu

    dropping a piece one block off in the original tetris was a part of the fun. Oh the ninja-like maneuvering required to correct that awkwardly dropped "T" or "L". That wasn't fun for you?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GHIIHTRJXIOZCAF2GESNKZH264 himanshu

      and oh, my mom loves playing the first EA tetris on the ipad. And i don't think she'd like this version of tetris. Tapping to drop a block in place. Meh!

      • Anonymous

        Agreed. Especially when the blocks start moving faster, navigation really is a significant source of fun.

        Besides, I've noticed most of the screenshots in the original articles have magically changed, but originally there was one showing some really bizarre options for placement of a T-block and while there happened to be one obvious move to make in that example, it concerns me that it isn't too bright picking spots. What's the point of one-tap placement if you still can't put it where you want?

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Apparently those screens in the other article were outdated or something, so EA asked us to change them. But to address your point, the 3 options of where to place blocks with using the One touch mode can be changed just by tapping the screen. It sounds awkward but works really well. If a piece came along and I didn't like any of the options they gave me of where to place it, it was really simple to tap the screen and find the placement I was looking for.

        Anyway, while I do really like this whole One Touch mode business, I have to agree that the in app purchase and subscription model for this game are horrendous.

  • http://twitter.com/nicholsonb Brad Nicholson

    And this is exactly why we need to support games priced above $.99.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MGKMDABPUEAIAYIL5RC6WGE3AY Schuyler

      I don't think a higher entry price would slow the EA IAP imperative. For companies like EA, I think the days of the buy-once business model are long gone.

    • http://twitter.com/BenEhlers Ben Ehlers

      Star Wars: The Old Republic wants 60 bucks just to install the game, and another 15 bucks a month just to actually play it. 

      Solution? DON'T PLAY THESE GAMES. 

      • Anonymous

        Fantastic solution. Within a year we'll have dropped our entire hobby altogether. Then we'll all be happy, right? Gaming has been destroyed by greed and we're all sitting around, bored as hell?

      • Anonymous

        no, within a year stupid devs will go out of business and the rest will adapt to selling games and not subscription models and underhanded optional rip off tactics.

        not that i give two squirts about tetris in the first place, but EA can just go frack off, they've been doing nothing but T-Club-baggin gamers for years now.

        all those sheep need to stop bending over and taking it all the time, they're making the rest of us look bad.

      • Anonymous

        MMOs need a subscription base or some form of ongoing income to keep the game running - maintain servers, pay mods, add content, regular patches, etc.

        Yes, superfluous IAPs and subscriptions are crap. Subscriptions to a SERVICE are a different thing entirely.  I would not want to play an MMO for an extended period of time if there weren't money constantly being pumped into it to allow for further development.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spammo-Twatbury/100002426967566 Spammo Twatbury

      "And this is exactly why we need to support games priced above $.99."

      Rubbish. You think pricing Tetris at $3.99 would make EA abandon their $30-a-year subscription model, saying "Oh, actually we've got plenty of money now"?

    • Anonymous

      Agree 100%

  • Chris Aanerud

    Indeed, the bright side here is that EA is constantly dropping their games to either 99 cents or free. So if you're a kid who wants to give EA all of your parents' money then you're good, or if you want to play cheap / free games then you're good.

  • http://twitter.com/AC_Gamer Andy Charalambous

    I played Tetris DX on my Gameboy Advance SP the other day, just to see if I still had the skills. Hours later me and brother were still engrossed in beating each other's times for clearing 40 lines. Great game, deserves a lot better than this.

    @AC_Gamer

  • http://twitter.com/hanerlend Erlend D. Handeland

    how is multiplayer on this? can you throw lines over at the opponent like you could in the original tetris for gameboy?

  • http://twitter.com/mspacemedia Mark Müller

    Brad, or look deeper than the 'Big Name' publishers - an ashamed plug - but my indie developed app 'Asteroid 2012 3D' has been updated three or four times in the last two months with new features and bugfixes, also has some great new additions coming over the next couple of months too - will always be and remain 0.99c too! Would love toucharcade to get in touch (excuse the pun) about a possible review of it sometime ! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/asteroid-2012/id443832467

  • Anonymous

    "a trend that really, really needs to go away before it gets even further out of control."

    Well said TA. I had high hopes for iOS gaming but all this IAP and freemium crap is just making me want a PS Vita.

    • Anonymous

      Look at the top grossing category in the App store... almost all freemium.  The public has spoken... the future is freemium!

      • Anonymous

        I know...that's why I'm looking at the PS Vita.

      • Anonymous

        The public latches onto freemium because of the "free" part, especially younger kids with no income. The "mium" part is likely far less popular.

  • Anonymous

    Who cares. This isn't the real Tetris anymore anyway; it's a dumbed-down version for touch screens. Scammy IAP junk can't make it any worse at this point.

    By the way, remember when I complained about the insistent upselling of the (IAP) cheat character in Spy Mouse, saying "look what EA has done to Firemint", and you told me to remove the tin foil hat? Yeah. Guess you finally figured out what's wrong with this picture.

  • Brandon sanders

    T-club? Monthly or yearly fees for Tetris? That is one of the stupidest things I have seen in quite a while. Who thought this was a good idea? Someone at EA apparently. Poor decision making like that would get me fired. How out of touch with gamers can EA get? I thought they couldn't get any worse, but I was wrong. Incredible....

  • Anonymous

    Isn't the 'one touch' control making it too easy and automatic?  I thought that the whole challenge of tetris was to maneuver and rotate your pieces while running out of time while it drops.  And if you missed your perfect line that was too bad.  Now it's 'let's hold your hand thru the game and make sure you win with perfect games'...

    Soon games will be so dumbed down that you can click anywhere and win...

    'click' - ACHIEVEMENT!
    'click' - REWARD!
    Boss Fight!
    'click' - DEFEATED BOSS!  ACHIEVEMENT! REWARD!
    'click' - End Credits...

    • http://twitter.com/hanerlend Erlend D. Handeland

      as they said in the review, it almost transforms into a new game. as i remember, the problem for me wasn't manouvering the pieces correctly - it was doing stupid moves that i regretted later into the game.

  • http://twitter.com/mspacemedia Mark Müller

    GamerGuy, yep and with each click it will ask for IAP... before allowing level up !

    Brandon, They are only following the 'new' norm - see Asteroid Gunner for example...

  • http://twitter.com/mspacemedia Mark Müller

    GamerGuy, yep and with each click it will ask for IAP... before allowing level up !

    Brandon, They are only following the 'new' norm - see Asteroid Gunner for example...

  • Anonymous

    Wish I didn't have to buy this in order to bash it on itunes. 

  • Anonymous

    Do any of you have this game, I'm guessing not since none of your negative comments have shown up in the reviews yet. It plays well and the one touch mode is easy at first and progressively gets harder just like Tetris always has. The IAP aren't mandatory from what I've seen so far. What is it with people on the Internet and complaining all the time? If you don't like IAP just don't buy them, I never have.

    • http://twitter.com/bjornkeizers Bjorn Keizers

      Here's how I see it: this subscription/IAP model is robbing customers who might not know any better.

      I don't buy these games, so I'm not the one getting robbed - But I do fight against it on general principle.

      • Anonymous

        Stupidity being punished is against your principles?

      • http://twitter.com/bjornkeizers Bjorn Keizers

        Actually, no. But there is a difference between making a stupid mistake, and effectively blaming the victim for being raped. 

        And EA isn't really up front about their raping-the-customer strategy. The iTunes page makes no mention of the monthly/yearly subscription. It does mention the 'T-club', but nothing about paying $30 p/y / $3 p/m.

        Also, as a customer of the original app store Tetris, I object to 'my' game being deleted from the store in favor of replacing it with a new purchase. Is it even possible to restore it like with other games? I doubt it...

      • Anonymous

        It can easily be restored, just put it back on using iTunes if you still have it on your computer. I'm pretty sure it's still available in your purchase history as well if you deleted it.

  • Anonymous

    I think the funniest part about this story is how there's a bunch of ads for free to play games with $99.99 IAP in them all over the site. If you don't like it Eli why are you running ads for these types of games?

    Oh right... Must be yet another greedy blogger.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7UKJQTJNEVE4QGS3CXD3OZHKU4 Vic Viper

      Heh heh... nice burn man!

    • Anonymous

      I see what you did there

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

      Meh he's the same guy who wouldn't credit Puzzle Quest for founding the mechanics Dungeon Raid lifted. His professionalism is lacking.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7UKJQTJNEVE4QGS3CXD3OZHKU4 Vic Viper

    The good news is that this whole freemium trend will turn gaming nerds like me away from playing videogames, and It'll help us to cut back. Sometimes you gotta look on the bright side.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

      The trend isn't going to engulf all of video gaming. It's just going to reduce our options.

  • gee

    what a ripoff, expend your money on something else 

  • Anonymous

    No monthly DLC for special A-Z blocks?

  • Anonymous

    the good thing about all this freemium/IAP ridden crap is that it makes it much easier to filter out games and just support the handful of good ones.

  • http://profiles.google.com/taylorb.707 Taylor Barclay

    This is a damn tragedy.

    Forget you EA; use Game Center and quit with the IAP. I've never given you a dime of App Store money and you don't care.

    Tetris is my all-time favorite game and to see this bullcrap IAP is just stupid.

  • http://twitter.com/SassanoM Sassano Michel

    For those who want to play Tetris for free there is vecTray on the App Store !

    Real Time multiplayer with spells ! Nobody talk about this game...

    http://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/vectray/id407190399?mt=8

  • http://twitter.com/kzwen Zwen

    I ended up buying one of this: http://www.ebay.com.sg/itm/Plam-Hand-Held-LCD-Electronic-Game-Toys-Brick-Game-Purple-A138-/280737215961?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item415d3df5d9 Cheap, classic, no money suckers...other than the AAA batts. 'New' tetris these days just ain't the same, java ports, ds ver. ios ver etc are all wrong! Can't enjoy real tetris without dpad and buttons for sure.

    On another note, how did apple approve this T-club thingy and not the big fish subscription app? Same concept..