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[Gamesbriefers] Why is 2048 more successful than Threes?

By on May 1, 2014
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Question:

Why is 2048 more popular than Threes?

Answers:

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.

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