Tetris now at 425 million paid mobile downloads

The Tetris Company's Henk Rogers voices his concern over the game's jump to free-to-play

Tetris has been downloaded 425 million times on mobile platforms - and that doesn't include its free-to-play iterations.

In an interview with Venturebeat, the man who brought Tetris out of Russia in the Eighties, Henk Rogers, said that the iconic game has now received 425 million paid downloads on mobile.

"It's really spread over the whole period where phones have become able to play games," said Rogers, who was managing director of The Tetris Company until his daughter took control in December last year.

"That first happened in Japan. Then it sprang up in the U.S. and Korea and other places. That's a total number over the last 14 years or so."

That's in addition to the 70 million boxed copies of the game - Rogers' estimate - sold for the Game Boy and other platforms. And it doesn't include free-to-play versions of the game, like EA's Tetris Blitz. "That's another level on top of the 425 million paid downloads," he said.

However, Rogers harbours nagging concerns about the way free games are monetised, categorising his thinking on the matter as, "old-school."

"You could spend a couple of million dollars and build a great product in the old days, and then you'd know that a certain number of them would be sold. Nowadays, you have to build the game and then hope you can keep nickel-and-dime-ing people afterward. You have to interrupt the experience asking for money, and I think it takes away from the game.

"What's wrong with paying a little money? People won't spend the amount of money they'd spend on a cup of coffee for a game that could last them weeks. The value proposition's gotten all screwed up. People expect something for nothing."

EA still holds the mobile rights to Tetris, but Ubisoft inked a deal for new console versions in January this year, Whether the game's Xbox One and PlayStation 4 iterations will be free-to-play is not yet clear, though Rogers' feelings on the matter are quite clear.

When asked about the fact that 90 per cent of mobile revenue comes from free-to-play titles now, he replied: "Which is why my daughter is running the company and not me."

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Latest comments (8)

Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop8 years ago
Headline should be "Man wishes the world was not the way it is, but offers no solutions."
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Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief8 years ago
"People expect something for nothing". True. And they get it.
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Ben Mathis Art Director & Co-Founder, Snjohus Software8 years ago
Funny hearing the complaints from a man who A) did not even program Tetris to begin with, and B) has been remunerated for what little effort it did take to bring Tetris out internationally many thousands of times over. Why he still deserves to be paid because of some magic IP rights is a mystery, his other points aside.
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James Berg Games User Researcher 8 years ago
So because he didn't program the game, he shouldn't be paid for the work he does licensing it, and has done for decades? If not the IP holders, who "deserves" to be paid? Personally, I think the fact the people involved with Tetris are still getting paid for it is awesome.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd8 years ago
@Ben It has not exactly been cheap to straighten out the rights to Tetris or to keep the brand from being diluted by commercial clones.
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Thomas Glen President & Co-Founder, ValorCon LLC8 years ago
According to Wikipedia, Alexey Pajitnov is still a co-owner of the LLC, so presumably what fortune smiles upon one, smiles upon the other. Seems just.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 8 years ago
You could spend a couple of million dollars and build a great product in the old days, and then you'd know that a certain number of them would be sold.
and that is no longer an option why? Because going the Pac man CE route towards a killer tetris on Steam is too much work?
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Ben Mathis Art Director & Co-Founder, Snjohus Software8 years ago
First, there is a big jump from what I said to "shouldn't be paid at all" as you put it. Remuneration for effort actually done is fine, but I don't think it's a large guess to say he's rich from doing a bit of licensing work, most likely outsourced to lawyers anyway.
As to your second question, how about the actual developers rather than IP holders? Very rarely are they the same.

It's only in this really messed up society that we can give some business person a piece of paper that says they are entitled to profits indefinitely, yet those who labored from nine to five (and beyond) for sometimes years get nothing but their basic salary. I understand the legalities of why it is so, but that is a construct, it's not a universal law and it's not how it should be. Especially since in videogames, those developers are every bit as skilled and experienced, often much more so, than the managers or employees of the corporations holding the IP rights.
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