EA to brick Tetris phone app

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/23/ea-bricks-tetris-phone-app.html

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It’s almost like they just want me to emulate the arcade version in MAME right on my device. You can’t brick my block game if my non-talking MAME game blocks bricking!


I recently played a vaguely match-3 game called [/thinks hard] Grindstone, and I would say it was the best mobile game of that kind I’ve ever played, except… you have to be online to play it, which makes it forgettable garbage. I deleted it after playing through it once because, why keep something like that around?

I don’t know if there’s really a moral here except that with digital products, you have to bear in mind whether something is a rental or a (perishable) purchase before you invest your money, time and attention. What really gets up my nose is the smug fuckery of yer Adobes and Autodesks (and EAs I guess) who just announce that the switch to a rental model is what everyone wants, and better, yet also exactly the same anyway. They’ll keep doing that if customers don’t call them on it.

And I think companies do fear the reaction to headlines like this one; EA couldn’t yoink many titles before people started thinking it’s pointless to play any EA game. So the fact that it happens at all is evidence that they sometimes can’t help yoinking products, unless those products don’t depend on an online service at all. So that’s what you’re looking for as a consumer.


It’s not EA’s fault, at least not directly: the Tetris Company has a new partner, and it appears EA’s license for the game lapsed.

Why didn’t EA lead with that in their statement? Otherwise it just sounds like they’re bricking the game for the fun of it. Explain that it’s a legal/licensing thing and it’s hard to be too angry at EA.


I am curious. If I have the app on a device that I put into airplane mode and do not allow to connect the wifi…will it still brick? I feel like it wouldn’t.

It’s not EA’s fault, at least not directly: the Tetris Company has a new partner, and it appears EA’s license for the game lapsed.

Sorry, that doesn’t fly. If it was removed from the store? Sure, fine. I don’t blame EA for that at all.

Bricking the app? Yeah, that’s 100% EA in my book.


There are plenty of games (including non-multiplayer games) that just won’t start without an internet connection. Unless you try to play the game on a subway or airplane, you probably wouldn’t even notice.

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I agree. EA is a dumpster fire when it comes to how it interacts with its customers. Of course they aren’t alone.

The fact the game is tied to a server that had to be running for the app to function is another part of the problem, and a problem shared by many other apps.

It shouldn’t be possible for a game to be deleted if a license ends. It’s like someone coming into your house and taking your cartridges or discs. But digital-only not only makes the unthinkable possible, it makes it easy and likely. Especially if the company doesn’t care about protecting their customers.

Gaming is tumbling down some dark holes.


Never ever buy a mobile game from EA. They’re even worse than your average mobile game developer for dropping support for a game you purchased for no apparent reason. I lost a basic but functional version of SimCity that I paid for because EA pulled it from the store and replaced it with a new version. I’ll never make the mistake of buying one of their games again.


Tetris99 is calling you.

I haven’t played this version, but the announcement refers to “in-game items”. I’m guessing that the game entices you to spend your money on stuff, and accordingly an Internet connection is required to ensure that you’re not cheating and hacking in items for free. And I’m also guessing that the game is largely supported by a small percentage of “whales” who spend more money than you would imagine. “Dark holes”, indeed.


This game was free, which makes it a bit hard to be upset that it is gone.

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Maybe, but the trade off is that you’ve just bricked your device in order to prevent EA bricking a game.



Like that time Amazon remotely deleted 1984 (of all things!)


well I wasn’t thinking about bricking my active device. I was more thinking of it being on an old inactive phone or tablet.

A DRM time bomb: it’s in the game™!

The thing is, it’s a paid game, and there’s no reason a previously sold copy should stop working when the license to sell more games lapsed.

Yep, tying the game’s continued functionality to online servers that can’t be kept up when the license lapsed (because they exist to sell more stuff to existing paid customers) , that was all EA…

The game’s getting bricked because it relies on the servers that they have to take down because of the license expiring, so I’m going to say “yes.”

That’s not what I’ve read, which is what is source of the angry surprise here. This was supposedly the paid version. (I understand it also had in-app purchases, which could be a source of confusion.)


The Tetris brand continuously aims to bring fans game experiences that are fresh, innovative and fun. We are excited about these new changes for Tetris on mobile and plan to share more news with fans very soon.

It’s Tetris, you put blocks into lines at an increasingly frantic pace until you can’t, same way you have for the past 35 plus years.

There’s been many variants, none are particularly memorable or provided lasting improvements on it’s simplicity, but capitalists gotta capitalist…


As far as I’m concerned: Fuck those changes and the horse they rode in on. And while you’re at it, fuck brands, innovation, and “sharing news with fans”.


The 2013 game was free to download, clean of weird ads, and you could play it solo with one hand.

Look, we all like Tetris, and of course some of us really like Tetris, but… uh…