As we buy more and more games digitally, the question of digital ownership often comes along. The weird thing with software is that you’ve pretty much always bought a licence to use that software, not the software itself. Whether you’ve got a game on a disc or stored on your hard drive, you don’t own that data; you just own a licence to use that data. One benefit of physical media is that even if that licence is revoked for whatever reason, you can disconnect your machine or console from the internet, put the disc in and probably still play some version of said game.
That’s a little harder when the game is completely digital. While it hasn’t really happened, barring a few online games, it’s entirely possible for a rights holder to remove the licences from digital games you’ve paid money for. That’s precisely what’s happening with EA’s mobile Tetris games. The stakes are obviously lower, because they were free or $1.99 games, but users of the company’s mobile versions of Tetris and Tetris blitz will lose access to the games completely in April.
“Hello Fans, We have had an amazing journey with you so far but sadly, it is time to say goodbye,” says a statement on the game’s page on the App Store and Google Play (via GI.biz). “As of April 21, 2020, Tetris will be retired, and will no longer be available to play. Kindly note that you will still be able to enjoy the game and use any existing in-game items until April 21, 2020. We hope you have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of this game and we appreciate your ongoing support. Thank you!”
It’s a stark reminder that we don’t own our digital games, and that they could at some point just vanish. While it’s easy to point the finger at EA here, it’s likely that they have no choice. They no longer have the licence to make and distribute mobile Tetris games, with The Tetris Company giving that honor to N3twork, developer of the Tetris Battle Royale game (that’s not Nintendo’s Tetris 99) Tetris Royale.
Last Updated: January 23, 2020