Threes developer Sirvo LLC worked hard on its puzzle game phenomenon and it's non too happy about a series of clones popping up on the marketplace. To counter this worrying trend, the developer wrote an over 42K word blog post detailing the game's year-and-a-half development, explaining why a seemingly simple game like Threes is actually a ton of work to get the balance just right.
The developer noted that it first started seeing Threes clones 21 days after its 27th February release. It began with a game called 1024, while another game called 2048 followed suit with minimal changes to the formula. This was followed by the probably Mitchell & Webb copyright infringing Numberwang 2048. Things really came to a head when CNBC reported on the success of 2048, a game made in a weekend by the then 19 year old creator Gabriele Cirulli. The writer of said article failed to mention Threes, its clear inspiration.
"It's all in good fun, at least we'd like to think so, but try as our logical brains might, we still got the same 'cloning feeling'", the developer stated in its mammoth blog post that must have taken longer to write than 2048 took to make. "Especially when people called Threes, a game we poured over for nearly a year and a half, a clone of 2048. Others rifled off that they thought 2048 was a better game than Threes. That all stung pretty bad. We know Threes is a better game, we spent over a year on it. And obviously, Threes is the reason 2048 exists."
Sirvo further explained that 2048 is an imbalanced game that's too easy to "break," whereas Threes' more intricate mechanics give it a lot more lasting value.
"We worked really hard to create a simple game system with interesting complexity that you can play forever. You know, 'simple to learn, impossible to master'. That old chess-nut."
The Threes developer expressed frustration that most people, at a glance, won't be able to pick up on the subtle nuances that make Threes a better game - hence the 42K word blog post. "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."
"We do believe imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but ideally the imitation happens after we've had time to descend slowly from the peak - not the moment we plant the flag," Sirvo added.
"Making these tiny games is littered with hard and painful times that are full of uncertainty and self-doubt. You never know if something is really going to work. It's not easy. But cloning or ripping off a design in a week, that's a bit different isn't it?" the developer concluded.
Eurogamer contributor Mark Sorrells gave Threes top honours. "Threes is at once nicotine and soul food, magnificent and deadly, a machine for playing," he wrote in his Threes review. "It is flawed and broken and perfect and you must start playing it today."