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.