Tech Column: The 2048 Phenomenon

Austin Allen

2048. If you have an iPhone or computer, you’ve either heard of this addicting puzzle game or you’re already addicted. This game has so many of my Apple touting friends hooked trying to get the 2048 and 4096 tiles. However, this free game is a rip-off of Sirvo LLC’s game Threes, which was launched about a month before the release of 2048. Sirvo LLC, whose previous efforts included Puzzlejuice and Semi-Automatic, spent 14 months working on their newest game, and the developers are a bit sad that clones are taking people away from a better game. Asher and Greg, the pair behind Sirvo LLC, explain that 2048 is a broken game compared to their simplistic and awesome puzzle game in an open letter on their blog to all the clones, knock-offs and rip-offs (was this supposed to be a hyperlink or something?): “We wanted players to be able to play Threes over many months, if not years. We both beat 2048 on our first tries. We’d wager most people that have been able to score a 768 or even a 384 in Threes would be able to do the same using the fabled ‘corner strategy.’ You probably could, too! Just try tapping ‘up’ then ‘right’ in alternating order until you can’t move. Then press left. You may not get to a 2048, but you might just see your highest score ever.”

While I was eating lunch with some of my friends, three of them were playing 2048. I asked them what their highest tile was. Most of them already got the 2048 tile in the few days they’ve been playing. Junior Bennett Wade said that he knew someone who had beaten the game. “The screen said: Congratulations! You’ve beaten 2048. Want to keep playing?”

Senior Brody Wacker said, “I’m really addicted to this game, but when I beat it, I’ll be done with it.”

“That’s exactly how I feel,” senior Will Whetzel said. “There has never been an iPhone game that can hold my attention for more than a week or two. That’s just how iPhone games are.” That reaction is something that Asher and Greg were specifically trying to address when they created Threes.

“We worked really hard to create a simple game system with interesting complexity that you can play forever,” they said on their blog. They wanted a game that was “simple to learn, impossible to master.”

Threes has done just that. In the two months of the game’s existence, only six people in the world have scored a 6144 (my top score is only 3384) and no one has beaten the game. In an effort to highlight how much time and energy went into developing Threes, Asher and Greg have released texts, emails and screenshots from the 14 month period they worked on the project that reveal how it evolved into the game we can play today. Not only does this provide an intriguing look into the creative process of game development, it also allows fans of the game to explore what the game could have looked and felt like. It could have featured a lot more argyle and monsters, which they dubbed “Argoyles.”

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