EA Bets You'll Pay for Tetris on iPhone

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No one in their right mind would pay $30 a year for Tetris, right? Right?

Electronic Arts thinks people will. The publisher is relaunching Tetris for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, with an optional subscription for extra features, Gamasutra reports.

Here’s how it works: For $1, the basic Tetris app includes three game modes and a ranking system that allows people to level up as they play. For $3 per month, or $30 per year, players can join the “T-Club,” which provides performance-enhancing perks, faster rank progression and exclusive content. Yes, EA wants people to subscribe to Tetris.

I don’t like the idea that you can pay your way to a higher rank, because it’s a slap in the face to people who are genuinely really good at Tetris. But EA isn’t the first company to offer this type of perk. Pretty much any game that lets you buy more powerful items is propagating the trend, from casual games like Farmville to supposedly hardcore games like Infinity Blade. It’s obviously working.

The difference here is that EA is looking for recurring payments, as opposed to one-time content purchases. And it just might work.

These days, a lot of games rely on a level up mechanism to be addictive, stringing players along with progress bars just waiting to be filled. But Tetris is already addictive on its own. The addiction can be argued scientifically.

So what we have here is a one-two punch: an addictive game, plus the addictive meta-game in which you level up. EA is selling a performance enhancer for the latter, figuring some people are hooked enough to throw money at it.

Even if most people know better, I can’t imagine this working out poorly for EA. Tetris is a simple game. Any extra content EA provides to subscribers must have a pretty low overhead. If just a fraction of a percent of Tetris buyers sign up, EA probably comes out a winner.

(See also "Timeline: Cellphone Games from Snake to Angry Birds.")

This story, "EA Bets You'll Pay for Tetris on iPhone" was originally published by Technologizer.

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