The making of 2048 (in a weekend)

To complement the earlier post about the Threes team, here’s some background on the creation of 2048. One interesting comment:

Cirulli said he has made a “few hundred bucks” off of the game from player donations, but has not advertised on the website. He added that his intention was never really to make a profit and he is “extremely satisfied” with the money he has received.

The question in my mind is, where’s the harm here? Both games are fun, and it seems like the Threes team made their money. Is there room for both in the world? I think there is a line, but I think a money grab is where that line gets crossed. To me, this was more of an homage, an inspired weekend project, than a ripoff. But to be clear, I can certainly understand why this doesn’t sit well with the Threes team, who worked so very hard to bring their originally crafted beauty into the world.

Just some food for thought.

UPDATE: I love writing for the Loop. I also love (mostly) the comments that come from the community. I’d like to excerpt two on this post:

No Dave, just no. Why is it perfectly OK for this guy to rip off all the development work that the Threes team did? He says his game is based on 1024! which is a free app store game which blatantly states that it’s a free version of Threes. What really sticks in my throat is the self important note on the 2048 site: “Note: This site is the official version of 2048. [...] All other apps or sites are derivatives or fakes, and should be used with caution.” WTF? His is “official” and he warns against derivatives or fakes?? His game is a derivative of a derivative. What right does he have to warn about any other rip offs?

And this one:

The problem is exactly as was stated by the Threes team – they got their thunder stolen. Actually, it’s the exact same problem Apple has with Samsung. You spend an inordinate amount of time working on something, only to have some asswipe rip you off in a few minutes. The CNBC article makes it look like the kid is some sort of genius for coming up with the idea in a weekend, when all he did was copy someone else’s hard work. Where is the article on Threes? Or even a mention? Whether 2048 charges for it or not, he’s still taking money away from the developers by giving away their hard work for free. It also opens up the flood gates for other cloners…

I have to say, I really did not see this clearly. Mea culpa. These are fair points and I wanted to make sure that anyone reading this post got to see this perspective. Thanks to Collider and GadgetGav for taking the time to write these up. Good on you.



  • collider

    The problem is exactly as was stated by the Threes team – they got their thunder stolen. Actually, it’s the exact same problem Apple has with Samsung. You spend an inordinate amount of time working on something, only to have some asswipe rip you off in a few minutes. The CNBC article makes it look like the kid is some sort of genius for coming up with the idea in a weekend, when all he did was copy someone else’s hard work. Where is the article on Threes? Or even a mention? Whether 2048 charges for it or not, he’s still taking money away from the developers by giving away their hard work for free. It also opens up the flood gates for other cloners… “well, that guy did it, so it’s ok for me to…” Why would anyone buy Threes if you can get it for free? What exactly is the amount of money Threes is supposed to make to make it ok for someone else to jump in with their clone? Are you able to judge that amount? How do you know how much they spent in development, or need to develop their next project? Apple made enough money off of iPhones… where’s the harm in Samsung cloning Apple’s products? There is a huge difference between copying a program as a learning exercise that you keep to yourself and releasing the copy into the wild. He not only didn’t add anything of value to his copy, he made it worse. The kid isn’t working in a vacuum – he should know better. This line of thinking makes me angry. It’s the same slippery slope that allows people to feel ok about stealing music and movies…

    • scrappy

      You deserve 10 upvotes

      • collider

        Wow, thanks Dave! Huge fan of you guys, and this site. Glad you could see some sense in my morning ramble!

    • Hardik Panjwani

      I have played both the games and like both.

      I think the problem here is virality. 2048 is simply much much much more viral than Threes. Threes has a complex game mechanic that appeals to those who enjoy puzzles. 2048 has a simple game mechanic that has a mass appeal. I have a bunch of friends on Facebook playing 2048; we are playing and agonizing over it for one reason only: get that 2048 tile. 2048 is the Flappy Bird of puzzles. Three’s simply does not have that level of engagement built into it and would not have gone viral even if 2048 did not exist. Not all of these friends would want to buy three’s but I have mentioned it as the game that inspired 2048 and hopefully some of them will find it interesting enough to buy.

      Frankly on this count I see the Apple vs Windows on the GUI in this more than Apple vs Samsung. Apple may have shipped the GUI first but Windows tinkered with it and shipped the version that was flexible enough to make people feel comfortable with computers. The pendulum on this has certainly swung the other way today but thats another story.

  • GadgetGav

    No Dave, just no. Why is it perfectly OK for this guy to rip off all the development work that the Threes team did? He says his game is based on 1024! which is a free app store game which blatantly states that it’s a free version of Threes. What really sticks in my throat is the self important note on the 2048 site: “Note: This site is the official version of 2048. [...] All other apps or sites are derivatives or fakes, and should be used with caution.” WTF? His is “official” and he warns against derivatives or fakes?? His game is a derivative of a derivative. What right does he have to warn about any other rip offs?

    Dave, would you (or Jim for that matter) think there was no harm and room in the world for both of us if I just took every story on here, changed the wording very slightly in the title and posted as my own blog? The Loop Farsight anyone?

    • JohnDoey

      I remember an information-wants-to-be-free open source software zealot a few years ago whose website featured his app clones and information about how to torrent music and movies. Then somebody cribbed a few lines of the CSS from his website and he lost his fucking mind.

  • f1rehead

    I definitely empathize with the Threes team, but 2048 is more fun. I bought Threes but I play 2048.

  • JohnDoey

    If you were to sit down and dissect 2048, you would find:

    • software coding work • design work • art work

    … and yet the only person who is getting any of the money from 2048 is the software coder, because the other people all work on the Threes team.

    So this is just a simple example of using other people’s work and figuring out a way not to pay them for it.

    Similarly, ask someone at Samsung, “who came up with the idea to put a sleep/wake button on the top of the Galaxy S4?” and they have no answer because that person is at Apple. Ask them how much did it cost to develop that button? How many iterations did it go through? They don’t know, because again, all that work happened at Apple.

    Microsoft did not even have any artists or designers for their first 15 years or so. So instead of making apps from internal ideas and designs, they just used art and design from Apple. They didn’t hide this at all, because as software coders, they had no respect for artwork and design. They felt completely entitled to just use Apple work as a mockup for their own apps.

    What the coder of 2048 should have done is found an artist and designer and make either a new game, or some other software that might actually contribute to the world, such as a tool for non-profits, or a tool that connects people in need with people who can help. Or whatever actual idea you can come up with BEFORE YOU START CODING and end up filling your art/design vacuum with whatever is handy.

  • lukasz

    Threes is a perfect game. I hope people behind it will be well rewarded for their effort.