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'Mr. Tetris', Henk Rogers, Discusses Game Boy Sales and Nintendo

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"It would be nice to see them gain some momentum again"

This year is undoubtedly notable for one of the best-known franchises in gaming, as Tetris celebrates its 30th Anniversary. It was created by Alexey Pajitnov in the Soviet Union in 1984, and in one of the smartest video game business deals ever made Henk Rogers travelled to Russia to secure publication and licensing rights for distribution outside of Russia. The rest is history, with the license deal for Nintendo to bring it to the Game Boy being a defining moment in the company's historical dominance of the portable gaming market.

Speaking to VentureBeat at a celebration event in Philadelphia, Rogers highlighted some of the staggering sales of the franchise; he gave figures of "425 million total paid mobile downloads... 35 million on the original Game Boy... Boxed products, I think altogether we sold something like 70 million." That figure doesn't even include free-to-play mobile versions, though Rogers admits that it's just as well that his daughter has taken his place in the business, as he's not a fan the model.

I have a hard time with the freemium model. I’m sort of old-school that way. You could spend a couple of million dollars and build a great product in the old days, and then you’d know that a certain number of them would be sold. Nowadays, you have to build the game and then hope you can keep nickel-and-dime-ing people afterward. You have to interrupt the experience asking for money, and I think it takes away from the game.

Any conversation around Tetris naturally brings the subject to Nintendo, as despite the franchise perhaps being best-known on Game Boy it's had multiple entries skipping the Kyoto company's hardware, with Ubisoft working on a new entry for PS4 and Xbox One, but not Wii U — Puyo Puyo Tetris (published by Sega) is a crossover, meanwhile, coming to 3DS and Wii U in Japan. Rogers considered Nintendo's current status, before explaining that he hopes to see the Tetris brand continue on any system with the applicable control inputs.

It’s funny, I was in Japan recently and I met Mr. Miyamoto. I hate to say it, though, but I didn’t really know what the situation with Nintendo was like. I just wanted to see Miyamoto. It seems like they need to come around to what the rest of the industry’s doing. They’ve always plotted their own course. Yamauchi’s no longer around to plot that course.

It would be nice to see them gain some momentum again. They certainly have the money. I think they know the younger market better than a lot of other companies do. That’s always going to be a market. My granddaughter’s five years old, and she’s getting to the age where she has a Nintendo Wii. She loves it.

...Wherever there’s a screen and a keyboard or a touchpad, Tetris can go there. We’re going to try to make sure of that.

Are you still a big Tetris fan, and do you hope to see more of it on Nintendo hardware outside of Japan?

[via venturebeat.com]

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User Comments (18)

torotoid64

#1

torotoid64 said:

He's made a good point, but I'm not really a Tetris fan I don't feel the urge to get every single Tetris or Tetris styled game

Donutman

#2

Donutman said:

I hate when you get playing this to much, the real world starts looking like Tetris shapes.

Captain_Balko

#4

Captain_Balko said:

I'm actually pretty decent at Tetris - I got Axis for 3DS and for a while I was in the top 100 for the fast line clear mode. I'm garbage at lasting a really long time because my brain shuts off after a while, but ask me to clear 40 lines and I can do it way faster than most people.

audiobrainiac

#5

audiobrainiac said:

I LOVE Tetris. Its been around since i was a kid and it stimulates my brain. It'll always be a necessity on my list of games. Still loving Axis.

iphys

#6

iphys said:

If we don't get a Tetris game for Wii U, I'll consider it a failure as a console. If a third party won't make it, all the better if Nintendo does it. Tetris DS was more polished than any other Tetris game of late.

Peach64

#8

Peach64 said:

And that's why you get investors wanting Nintendo to go mobile. 425 million sales, and you don't even have to make a new game.

Dark-Link73

#9

Dark-Link73 said:

"It was created by Alexey Pajitnov in the Soviet Union in 1984, and in one of the smartest video game business deals ever made Henk Rogers travelled to Russia to secure publication and licensing rights for distribution outside of Russia."

And us westerners wondered during the Cold War why them Commies didn't like us. We were, and still are, nothing but a bunch of "capitalist pigs". LoL. ;-)

My two favorite Tetris titles are Tetris for the GB and The New Tetris for the N64.

Tops

#10

Tops said:

I downloaded the GB Tetris off the VC and that is good enough for me. I love it and it's simplicity

WiiULoveSquid

#11

WiiULoveSquid said:

The problem isn't Nintendo, they are as steady as tetris. The world just needs to chill a bit more from the sports and intense violence genres and come play some Mario and pikmin on nintendo's turf, just buy the darn Wii U lol

Mahe

#12

Mahe said:

"Nowadays, you have to build the game and then hope you can keep nickel-and-dime-ing people afterward. You have to interrupt the experience asking for money, and I think it takes away from the game."

Spot on. The "freemium" model is quite unappealing.

TreesenHauser

#14

TreesenHauser said:

There should be a Wii U Tetris game, but for now I'm perfectly content with Tetris Party on WiiWare.

JustinH

#16

JustinH said:

I really, really want Puyo Puyo Tetris, so yes, I do want to play Tetris again.

ecco6t9

#17

ecco6t9 said:

I don't think we will see Nintendo publish a Wii U edition of Tetris considering they have not made a console Tetris since the N64 days.

The closest we may get is if they publish Puyo Pop Tetris.

3dcaleb

#18

3dcaleb said:

tetrisphere on n64 was by far my favorite ever. i loved it. it would work so well in 3d on th 3ds. thats the only reason i didnt buy tetris axis on 3ds, because it didnt have a tetrisphere mode, and didnt really use the 3d like it should have, maybe the next one will,

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