Tetris a 100-million-download hit on mobile phones

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The Independent Tech

Classic arcade videogame Tetris has taken on new life as the top selling title for play on mobile telephones.

Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov and Blue Planet Software which owns the rights to the game are holding a press conference on Thursday to announce that more than 100 million copies of the game have been downloaded.

"As mobile devices get into the hands of more people, so does Tetris," said Blue Planet chief executive Henk Rogers.

"It's a testament to the game's staying power that it remains popular on today's most modern technology."

It was spring in what was then the Soviet Union when a mathematician in Moscow with a penchant for puzzles created a "Tetris" computer game more than 25 years ago.

"For me, it was just a moment ago," said Alexey Pajitnov, who noted that he was 29 years old when he crafted the computer code for Tetris in June 1984.

"I was very fascinated with all kinds of puzzles, brain teasers. Mainly, it was just a diversion from the main work," said Pajitnov, who was employed at the time at a government institute researching artificial intelligence and computer speech recognition.

Pajitnov made a computer program that he came to call Tetris, which involves a player manipulating variously shaped blocks dropping along a screen with the goal of getting them to mesh into rows without gaps.

Tetris became a computer game hit and has stayed that way, commanding about 10 percent of the market, according to Rogers.

"Tetris is so popular because it transcends culture," Rogers said. "There is no violence, no ideology; the player creates order out of chaos."

Pajitnov and Rogers, through Blue Planet, license Tetris rights to game makers such as Nintendo and Electronic Arts (EA).

"Tetris is the biggest franchise in mobile gaming, which speaks to the evergreen nature of the brand and the fact that it translates to any platform," said EA Mobile vice president of worldwide publishing Adam Sussman.

Tetris was first available on mobile in 2001 as a result of a collaboration between Rogers and Takeshi Miyaji of Japan's G-mode.

"Tetris provided the crucial building blocks for our company when we started 10 years ago," said Miyaji, president of G-mode.

"Just this past year alone our 'Tetris League' game in Japan has been played nearly 100 million times."