Don't miss
  • 12
  • 6468
  • 6097
  • 20

[Gamesbriefers] Why is 2048 more successful than Threes?

By on May 1, 2014
Print Friendly


Why is 2048 more popular than Threes?


pecorellaAnthony Pecorella

Director of production for virtual goods games at Kongregate

There are two big reasons for this.

a) 2048 was free. This is the biggest reason. Not going free to play was unfortunately a mistake for Threes, something they have acknowledged themselves.

b) 2048 is more accessible. Threes is a constant challenge of thinking ahead, planning each move, and hoping like hell that next block comes to the left and not the right side of that vertical column. 2048 on the other hand is a much more quickly satisfying, easy to approach game that one can pick up and start mastering right away.

It’s true that it’s not nearly as difficult if you’re looking for a deep puzzle challenge (and in fact there’s a near-optimal simple algorithm that I won’t share here to avoid spoiling the game for people), but I suspect that in large part 2048 players are more enjoying the peaced-out zen-like experience of making numbers crunch together than the deep strategic planning. It’s a sorting game that doesn’t take as much focus but provides rewarding results. It’s a 5k instead of a marathon, a donut instead of a creme brûlée, Klondike instead of FreeCell, Bejeweled Blitz instead of Candy Crush. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a difference of what experience you’re looking for.

harry holmwoodHarry Holmwood CEO of Marvelous AQL Europe

I agree with both of these, but would add also that it was playable initially without having to install an app.  Players could click a Facebook link, and be playing in a browser straight away (first on PC and then on mobile, or at least that’s the order I encountered it in).  Increasingly, I think having to install an app is a big barrier to rapid and viral growth.  That disadvantage is made up for by the upsides – billing, native performance etc, but I think 2048 would not have grown as quickly as it did if it were ‘just’ a native app from the start.

tadhg kellyTadhg Kelly Developer relations, Ouya

It’s as simple as the math of doubling being easier to grok than the math of Threes.

Mark SorrellMark Sorrell Freemium game design consultant

Tadhg, the maths of Threes *is* doubling.

I’m going to go with a) it’s free b) it’s simpler (and far shallower and much worse) c) luck.

Mostly a) and next mostly c)

tadhg kellyTadhg Kelly Developer relations, Ouya

Doubling 2s I mean

Bernard ChenBernard Chen Director of Product Management at KIXEYE

This difference does say something about the segment of players that want to play zen/flow puzzle games.  2048 and 3’s are close, but 3’s is slightly harder which means a much smaller number of players prefer it.

Melissa Clark-ReynoldsMelissa Clark-Reynolds Founder of MiniMonos

I agree with all the above, and the simpler play means it is easier to “snack” on.  I loved the challenge of Threes and prefer it for an hour of settling in and playing – whereas 2048 is perfect for Tube or bus.  Threes more satisfying, but 2048 is more like a quick bit of chocolate than a real antipasto to savour.

About Gamesbriefers

Every week, we all ask our august panel of luminaries a burning question in the world of free-to-play and paymium game design. Or we ask a broader question on the future of the industry. We’re not going to announce who is a GAMESbriefer. You’ll just have to read the posts to see who is saying what to whom. We have CEOs and consultants, men and women, Brits, Germans, Americans, indies, company people and much more besides.
  • Pingback: Counterweight 13: Threes « Electron Dance()

  • Alex

    more successful? did it make more money from ads than Threes from sales?

    If you mean why are there more clones of 2048, it’s because you can easily get the source code online and clone it.

  • fart

    basically the 2048 dev have common sense of what modern casual gamers want

  • Oscar Clark

    Not sure why my original comments didn’t make it in (perhaps a problem my end) but for me the difference is that Threes makes me feel dumb, while 2048 makes me feel clever (I’m neither of course). The games are quite different in play (surprisingly so when they are so similar on the surface). I know a lot of dsigners who rail against 2048 as a copycat and therefore feel the developers should be cast into a ‘lower pit of hell’ – well something like that. But! although I appreciate their feelings on the matter I believe that this is just life and when we innovate we have to assume others will follow. Although TBH I have no idea about the reality – just the rumours. Knowing you have an infinitely substituable experience and going Paid is unlikely to be a successful strategy.