Candy Crush needs Tetris Effect

Cantillon: Tetris is prime example of simplicity being the best approach in gaming

Despite the millions of euro being poured into games development these days, Tetris endures.

Despite the millions of euro being poured into games development these days, Tetris endures.

Sat, Jun 7, 2014, 01:00

Candy Crush may have millions of users, but it still has a thing or two to learn about longevity. While millions of people play King’s creation every day, the popular mobile game has a long way to go before it comes even close to the grandad of them all: Tetris.

Tetris, which turned 30 yesterday, has sold more than 170 million copies since its launch in 1984, and converted many more players.

Who would have thought when Russian developer Alexey Pajitnov created the game that it would be translated to 65 different platforms – making it the most ported game in history – and become known as one of the best video games in the world? It was deceptively simple: clear lines of tiles by fitting the falling shapes, known as Tetriminos, together to make a continuous horizontal line.

There was no storyline, and no ultimate goal to work towards, apart from staying in the game as long as possible and bumping up your high score. But you could easily lose hours of your time to the game, trying to fit the awkward geometric shapes together as they rained down on your screen with increasing speed. It’s hard to describe the mounting anxiety as you watched the blocks creep closer to the top of the screen – and the end of the game. Despite the pointless nature of Tetris, it has made it on to practically every games platform and system available, and has spawned numerous puzzle games trying to emulate its success.

It even has its own term – the Tetris Effect – which was coined to describe the phenomenon where people continue to “see” the Tetronimo shapes falling even when not playing the game.

It’s hard to see Candy Crush or any of its ilk having a similar cultural impact.

Tetris is the prime example of keeping things simple being the best approach. Despite the millions of euro being poured into games development these days, it endures. Alongside the big name franchises, a new version will be showcased at the E3 games exhibition in Los Angeles next week for the next generation of games consoles – the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 – bringing the game to a new players. Pajitnov will attend E3 this year to show off the Tetris Ultimate game to players.

Simple to learn, hard to master: you get the feeling in 20 years’ time, regardless of how the industry develops, we will still be playing Tetris, hopelessly addicted to its simplicity.

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