Like clearing 4 lines in one drop, a whole lot of Tetris has disappeared from the web. Tetris Online Inc., the online licensee of the Tetris brand across the Western world, shut down on June 1st after thirteen years in operation. The company was founded by some heavy hitters including Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris godfather Henk Rogers, and Nintendo’s Minoru Arakawa.
For much of its existence Tetris Online was creating and publishing titles for browsers and Facebook including Tetris Friends, Tetris Battle, and Tetris Stars as well as original games like Feevo, Lost Trails, and Monster Fantasy. “Please be advised,” the brief disclaimer on tetrisonline.com begins. “Tetris Online will be closing its operations, effective May 31, 2019. All browser-based products will no longer be available after this date.” As of June 1st the TetrisFriends.com site was replaced with a more personal farewell:
“Hard to believe it’s been 11 years since the first Tetriminos dropped on this site, but time flies when you’re having fun! We’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to the many billions of Tetris Line Clears throughout this journey.”
What falls under our purview are the few titles released by Tetris Online for the Nintendo Wii, DSi, 3DS, and the Xbox 360, [UPDATE 07/26/19: all of which have been delisted]:
- Tetris Splash (Xbox 360. Delisted: July 2019)
- Tetris Party (WiiWare. Delisted 2016-2019)
- Tetris Party Live (DSiWare. Delisted in 2012)
- Tetris Party Deluxe (Wii and DS. Retail release only)
- Tetris Axis (3DS eShop. Delisted in 2014)
So, why is Tetris Online shutting down now? The writing has been on the wall for a while. In March of 2013 the company reportedly laid off 40% of its staff, likely due to the burst in the money-making Facebook games bubble. Through 2014 the company focused only on bringing Tetris to Amazon Fire and Roku devices as well as the Ouya.
Since 2014 it seems The Tetris Company — the rightsholder to the Tetris brand — has chosen to move away from internal development through Tetris Online Inc. and focus on fewer exclusive Tetris licenses. Sega, Ubisoft, Enhance, and Nintendo themselves are among the few companies to release a Tetris title over the last 5 years. You can still see Tetris Online’s roster of titles on their homepage and read much more on Wikipedia.
Thanks to Aipompous for submitting this news to the site!