Due to its remarkable success, Tetris won't disappear. It's too well ingrained and, to be blunt, brilliant. "At its core, it's not just an activity. It's something which is a pleasure center. Whereas other games you play with your friends or you play to get a high score,Tetris you just play even if there is no friends or high score involved. People play it as a Zen meditation exercise. Then, you can play it with your friends and that's a bonus," Rogers says.
"AT ITS CORE, IT'S NOT JUST AN ACTIVITY. IT'S SOMETHING WHICH IS A PLEASURE CENTER."
For Gage, the success is even simpler: "The draw of Tetris is that it has that easy curve. Even if you're not good at Tetris, you can make a line. There's nobody out there who fails to make a line. That makes them feel good about what they are doing," he says. While making games, he learned that people will play and enjoy difficult games but only if the strategy is built upon an easily achievable task, for example clearing a line. (He attributes the success of his game Spelltower to his understanding of this phenomenon.)
But there is undeniably a push and pull between capturing the casual gaming audience and not alienating the experts who serve as the best ambassadors for the brand. "[The game developers] are spicing it up, but at the core, it's really the simplicity that is the appeal. There's a balance between adding new features and keeping something that's not broke the same," Cornelius says.
While One-Touch and Tetris Stars filter through the ecosystem, Blue Planet continues to move forward. According to Eden, future developments could include arcade games where each button is mapped a choice or a Kinect version where players can reach out and grab the pieces. They will continue to advance the quality of the AI, eventually offering multiple ones with each focusing on a different type of play. Rogers likens these to tennis coaches or caddies, who advocate for alternate strategies in similar situations. The one-touch future offers a slate of new input options limited only by the designers' imagination.
But the one-touch future also means the gaming world will continue to evolve pastTetris. It is a game rooted in the technology and limitations of the 1980s and 1990s. The move to touchscreens and gesture-based systems like Kinect will take future versions ofTetris further away from the core of the game. BPS, EA, and the rest of the licensees are attempting to shoehorn something that relies on buttons into a touchscreen world. (It’s not just Tetris; think how many beloved games from the past don’t translate.) They managed to make a fun and reasonably faithful version, but the fact remains that while One-Touch Tetris shares some DNA with the original, it’s an entirely different species. New developments in technology are making the old game just that: a thing of the past that doesn’t quite fit in the future.
"I think the one-touch is really successful, but I think at some point, it's going to be hard for them to continue. It will survive because it's Tetris and everybody knows it. But in 30 years, people are not going to grow up playing Tetris on touch devices. They are going to grow up playing games that were designed for touch devices," Gage says.
"And hopefully that won't be Angry Birds, but we'll see," he adds, laughing.