EA’s Next Version of Tetris Will Experiment With an Optional Membership Model

Big Fish’s subscription-based gaming app may have gotten yanked out of Apple’s app store over the Thanksgiving weekend. But, as we were hearing from other developers, it looks like subscription-style gaming products are still coming to the iOS platform.

Electronic Arts gave a holiday preview of several upcoming titles today and one of them, Tetris, will have a special membership program called Tetris Club that will give players premium content and bonuses. The game will have a special Tetris Club, costing $2.99 per month or $30 a year. It will give discounts on the game’s T-Coins, exclusive content and 15 percent in line and coin bonuses.

As for the game’s design itself, EA dramatically improved the user experience. The game now has a Marathon One-Touch mode that gives players a range of options on where to place Tetris blocks, or tetrominos. Instead of rotating the piece around several times and waiting several seconds for it to drop down in the appropriate place, you’ll see two to four options for where the block could end up. When you choose one, the tetromino quickly slots into place. It makes the gameplay a lot smoother.

There’s also another mode that gives players special power-ups, like one that allows a tetromino to smash into another line of blocks, breaking them up.

EA is the midst of a big transition from paid apps to the freemium model. Several of the other titles we saw today like The Sims are going freemium, with in-app purchases of premium currency. This is in line with a huge trend we’ve seen this year with about half to two-thirds of the top-grossing titles in the store being free apps (as opposed to paid ones).