Latest mobile gaming sensation 2048 accused of copying older game

Threes, the inspiration for 2048-type puzzles
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By Shruti Dhapola /  28 Mar 2014 , 17:07

Mobile gaming has a new addictive game called 2048 and pretty much everyone has been going crazy about it in the media. The game has been built by 19 year old Italian programmer named Gabriele Cirulli. In the game, users have to swipe the tiles to add together 2s and 4s and 8s etc till they get to the number 2048. The game is quite easy to understand and fun.  The game was released on 9 March and has been gaining immense popularity.

Everything as they say, was awesome. That is, until the creator of the game was accused of plagiarism.

Creators of another game called “Threes,” a paid game which is also available on both iOS and Android, have written a blog post saying that 2048 and another game called 1024 have blatantly copied them.

So what is Threes all about? Threes is all about matching numbers around multiples of three. That is adding one plus 2, which is 3, then three plus three which six and so on.

The developers of Threes wrote in a blogpost, saying, “we’re not shy about calling a clone a clone, and believe us, there’s no shortage of straight-up clones out there, especially on Android. But it’s the not-really-clone sort of games, the rip-offs, that have popped up that have our feelings puzzled. We know how to deal with a clone, and likely, so do you.”

The creators then go on to point fingers at 1024 and 2048, which released after them. “First, it started on iOS with a game called 1024 released 21 days after Threes (February 27th). It’s different, but not. The sliding is there, the doubling of cards, the merging, even the art is extremely similar. There are differences. New cards spawn all over the place. Swiping up, down, left or right moves the cards the full distance possible. There are “stones” in the grid that never move. This last feature was likely a choice the developer made based on the fact that the game was too easy. It’s not very fun.”

Next, came 2048 about ten days later. A game system identical to 1024 with one tweak, it removed the stones. Since, the game has grown in popularity after a posting on Hacker News on March 10th. It’s freely available and open source, allows swipes so it can be played on the phone and has spawned many variants since, including our personal favorite: Numberwang 2048.



They also point out that what especially hurt for them was being accused Threes was a clone of 2048. They also point that it took them nearly 14 months to come with Threes and that their game is better and not just working on some automated script.

“We want to celebrate iteration on our ideas and ideas in general. It’s great. 2048 is a simpler, easier form of Threes that is worth investigation, but piling on top of us right when the majority of Threes players haven’t had time to understand all we’ve done with our game’s system and why we took 14 months to make it, well… that makes us sad,” they wrote.  The creators have then put out nearly every detail plan, that went into creating the game.

While some might think this a case of sour grapes, it should be noted that the creators of Threes aren’t the only ones pointing out the similarities.

CNET’s post on 2048 had also noted that while the two games were similar, calling Threes was a much more difficult game with a steeper learning curve.

The post reads, “But where 2048 differs substantially from Threes, an admittedly far more difficult game with a steeper learning curve, is in its addictive conceit. 2048 is difficult — and you don’t realize that until you first progress far into the game; whereas Threes will aggressively remind you that you must keep the board from clutter. In fact, I’ve gone one game in Threes earning as much as 10,000 points to my next where I earn in the low triple-digits, moving too quickly and mindlessly to realize I’d made fatal mistakes so early on.” 

For the creators of Threes, though, the imitation hasn’t caused too much damage.As this TechCrunch piece points out, “For the makers of “Threes,” the good news is that the emergence of the clones hasn’t decimated its market share – the app is still a Top 10 title in Puzzle Games, Card Games and the general Games category in the US and a top 20 Overall app on the U.S. App Store.” 


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