tetrisgameboyRelease:December 22, 2011 - Nintendo 3DS (AU/EU/US)
December 28, 2011 - Nintendo 3DS (JP)
Delisting:December 31, 2014
(Available For: 3y 9m)
Developer:Bullet Proof Software
Publisher:Nintendo
Available On:Retail (Amazon, Play-Asia)
Links:Nintendo.com Homepage [Archive]

Delisting

The Game Boy version of Tetris was released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop around the world in December of 2011. After an advanced notice from Nintendo UK on December 27th, 2014 the game was delisted alongside Tetris Axis in all three major territories on December 31st. No reason was given by Nintendo but their 20-year license on the original game had recently expired. Continue reading for more on how and why the game was delisted and how it fits in the digital Tetris lineage.

The Great Tetris Delisting of 2014

On January 16th, 2014 Ubisoft announced that they had acquired the Tetris license and would release Tetris Ultimate for all current console and handheld platforms. Although unsubstantiated, it appears this license granted Ubisoft exclusive rights to downloadable versions of Tetris. Electronic Arts previously held the license and released Tetris on PSP, PlayStation 3, Blackberry, Windows Phone, iOS and Android between 2009 and 2013. Ubisoft’s announcement resulted in a restructuring of their deal where EA would retain the rights to Tetris on mobile platforms only. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s 20-year copyright on Tetris for Game Boy expired in September of 2013. This confluence of licensing deals resulted in The Great Tetris Delisting of 2014.

On January 9th, 2014 a PlayStation forum user asked if it was still possible to download Tetris for PlayStation 3. The “Buy Download” button on the game’s playstation.com page redirected to the PlayStation Store where it was not possible to complete the purchase. Over the next day other forum members confirmed that EA’s Tetris for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable had been delisted, presumably due to the terms of Ubisoft’s licensing deal.

Late in the year, on December 27th, Nintendo UK announced via twitter that the Game Boy version of Tetris for the 3DS would be delisted on the 31st. The following afternoon, twitter user NintenDaan posted a screenshot of a message sent to European 3DS users confirming that Tetris Axis (aka Tetris) was also being delisted on the 31st. Both games were removed in the US and Japan without advance notice to users.

While the Game Boy removal makes sense based on the expired copyright, Tetris Axis’s delisting is a bit more uncertain. Having been released simply as Tetris in Europe and Japan, either EA or Ubisoft could have claimed “brand confusion” over the game, resulting in its removal. Both games join the previously delisted Tetris Party Live for Nintendo’s DSiWare platform that was removed no later than March 31, 2012.

tetristimeline

The Tetri that Remain

As of May 2016 very few digital Tetris titles remain available on consoles aside from Ubisoft’s Tetris Ultimate. Tetris Splash for Xbox 360 and Tetris Party for WiiWare have been available to download since they launched in 2007 and 2008 respectively. These titles were released through Tetris Online, Inc. and as they are owned by The Tetris Company there’s never been a risk of delisting while the license changed hands around them. When EA relinquished their license to Ubisoft they retained the rights to Tetris on mobile devices where they continue to support Tetris, Tetris Blitz and Tetris for iPad into 2016.

In Japan, a separate, more complex license was granted to Sega allowing them to release Puyo Puyo Tetris alongside Tetris Ultimate in 2014. Apparently part of the license restricted them from releasing the game digitally on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. While physical copies were released on all platforms the game is only available to download on PlayStation 3, Vita, Wii U and 3DS.

About the Game

Easy to pick up, impossible to put down!

TETRIS, the iconic block-slotting puzzle game, gets a re-release on the Nintendo 3DS system. It’s easy to pick up, yet impossible to put down. Create solid horizontal lines by deftly maneuvering the falling Tetriminos into place. Clear as many lines as possible before the screen is overrun with Tetriminos. Work your way up from the easiest setting or crank up the speed to increase the challenge. Either way, you’re in store for hours of entertainment – all over again.

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