Posts by Tag / GAME: Tetris 99 (3)


I have such mixed feelings about Tetris 99.

Tetris 99 launched as a Nintendo Switch Online exclusive. Since it was an online-only battle royale, you needed the online subscription to play anyway, so this didn’t really hurt anyone - and making it free to subscribers was a win for Nintendo’s somewhat-maligned online service. It got even cooler when they started doing periodic tournaments that rewarded My Nintendo coins.

But then things got confusing. The game received a DLC expansion called the “Big Block DLC” which added two offline modes. Naturally it didn’t make sense for these to only be available to online subscribers, so the base Tetris 99 game download was no longer exclusive and could be downloaded by anyone for free - though if you didn’t have an online sub, it was useless to you unless you also shelled out ten bucks for the DLC. And if you did have the sub, this game that had initially been a special gift now had additions and improvements you wouldn’t get without spending more money.

This is a weird structure that damages the positioning of Tetris 99 as a nice bonus for getting an online sub, and Nintendo hasn’t really offered anything to replace it (even the NES releases have been getting rather anemic). To me it reads like the initial Tetris 99 release was a low-confidence experiment, and once the game was a hit the developer is now trying to make more money off of it in ways that the original setup didn’t cleanly enable.

Now another wedge is being driven between Nintendo Switch Online and Tetris 99 - and this one’s even more confusing. The game is receiving a physical release that includes the DLC and a one-year online subscription and (at least in the US) is priced the same as those two things put together (the DLC is ten dollars, a year of online is twenty, the physical Tetris 99 that includes both of these is thirty).

One hopes that the DLC content is included on the game card and it isn’t just bundled with a code - otherwise, the card itself is basically just a dongle and the internet is required for it to be any use at all. But even if it is on the card, it feels weird to me that the game forces you to buy an online subscription. If you wanted to play this game online anyway, why attach it to a piece of plastic that makes the game harder to play because it needs to be in the game slot? And if you didn’t, why would you pay triple the cost of the offline modes for it?

At this point it would make so much more sense for Tetris 99 to just be a ten dollar game with all its content, including an online mode that naturally requires the online subscription to play. And I suspect that the main reason this isn’t how it’s structured is due to the legacy of how the game launched - as a free Nintendo Switch Online bonus. The unusual and high-profile nature of that launch surely got the game a lot more attention than it otherwise would have - it seems entirely possible to me that it would have failed without that early boost, given how many simultaneous online players it needs to have to be successful. But it’s made things weird now that it’s trying to monetize further.


Tetris 99 Maximus Cup

Continuing my theme of being simultaneously impressed and concerned by Tetris 99, I’m very interested to see that there’s a tournament this weekend. You just play as normal, and the 999 players who rack up the most wins in the time period get 999 My Nintendo gold points (which is baaasically a $10 eShop gift card).

That’s actually pretty damn cool. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch Online NES thingy is again only getting two games outside of Japan this month.


#tetris 99 #nintendo switch online #nintendo switch online nes #video games #gaming

Tags: Thought, GAME: Tetris 99


Tetris 99 Is a Hit

Tetris 99 is fascinating both as a piece of game design and as a phenonmenon. It’s a well-timed deconstruction of the battle royale genre and also an interesting (and by early accounts, successful) experiment in console online service models. I’m a little embarassed that I didn’t predict how big a hit it was going to be, writing it off after playing it once - though in my defense it doesn’t explain its badge system at all and that’s where basically all the strategic depth lies.

I’m happy for Nintendo, but I’m also a little worried about what lessons they’re likely to learn from this. All the previous incentives for subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online have been met with some criticism: You can play games online, but that was free before the service was introduced. You can back up (most) saves to the cloud, but you still can’t back them up via USB. The NES games are neat, but are a tiny set of ancient games we all already have.

I’d love for them to really ramp up the legacy content - put out a bunch of NES/SNES/N64/NGC/GB/GBC/GBA titles. That already wasn’t looking likely, but now I’m worried their takeaway will be “When we put out a few new free NES games, people complain, but when we put out battle royale games, people love us! Clearly we should focus on the latter.”

This might even be the correct takeaway, but it’s definitely not the approach I personally prefer.