Few IPs are as iconic, adaptable and enduring as Tetris, which broke through the “Iron Curtain” in the 1980s to help make the original Nintendo Game Boy handheld console a success. Today, the various “tetromino” shapes remain a recognizable part of global pop culture for both gamers and non-gamers alike, and the game is now reaching a new audience on Facebook Messenger as the service marks the one-year anniversary of Instant Games, which turned the app into a gaming platform.
“As gaming platforms and technologies have evolved, Tetris has evolved right along with it,” Maya Rogers, president and CEO of Blue Planet Software, the sole agent for the Tetris brand, told AListDaily. “Great care has been taken to ensure that every new game maintains the essence of what Tetris is known for.”
Rogers said that although the game’s core goal of fitting pieces together to eliminate lines has stayed the same, the gameplay has been uniquely adapted to each platform over the past three decades, ranging from Facebook to the Nintendo Switch. The Facebook Messenger version, developed by CoolGames, gives the platform’s 1.3 billion users a chance to play marathon sessions and make a name for themselves on leaderboards.
“Instant Games will introduce the franchise to both new and seasoned players alike,” Leo Olebe, global director of games partnerships at Facebook, told AListDaily.
According to Olebe, players are taking to the Messenger platform because it combines social aspects with gaming. For example, Olebe said that discovery for games has been largely organic through the games tab on the Messenger homepage, but driven by friends challenging each other or organizing groups to go on raids. Also, like mobile games, Messenger titles fit into almost any time schedule.
Adapting to new gaming platforms has been critical to Tetris‘ ongoing success, and it was one of the first major brands to launch for mobile platforms in the US. Rogers said that when Tetris launched for mobile phones, its sales surpassed all other platforms, including the Game Boy and other consoles. There are currently several versions of Tetris available on mobile, with over a billion combined downloads to date.
However, Rogers also stated that it is equally important to keep Tetris relevant outside of video games, as related merchandise and fandom can be found all over the world. There is a movie in development based on the franchise, further banking on a recognizable brand that has a fan base that stretches several generations.
“We were just waiting for the right opportunity to bring the Tetris universe to the big screen,” said Rogers.
According to Rogers, Tetris continues to engage both new and veteran players because it “satisfies people’s inherent desire to create order out of chaos.”
She also said that the company is looking for new platforms to introduce Tetris, indicating an interest in virtual and augmented reality and even esports. The franchise will be celebrating its 35th anniversary in two years, so anything is possible.
As for Facebook Messenger, Tetris isn’t the only game that’s making its way to the platform. Facebook also announced that Sonic Jump, Disney Tsum Tsum and a new game from Puzzle & Dragons maker GungHo Online Entertainment are on the way. Angry Birds will soon introduce new gameplay features as well.
By taking advantage of these features and platforms, games like Tetris could engage with players for generations to come.