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Mobile gaming could be the path to mass adoption for crypto, thanks to developers like THNDR Games, a broad potential audience of smartphone and tablet users, and the allure of real Bitcoin rewards for playing. And Tetro Tiles is one of the latest examples of that.
THNDR uses Bitcoin’s layer-2 Lightning Network to reward mobile gamers with satoshis (or sats), which are the smallest denomination of Bitcoin (1/100,000,000 BTC). THNDR has now released six Bitcoin games on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, and its Twitter meme game is strong, paving the last for last month’s release of Tetro Tiles (previously Bitcoin Blocks).
You don’t need a crypto wallet to play—you only need one if you want to want to cash out your earnings. Tetro Tiles offers multiple login options, including Gmail, Twitter, or email account logins to begin playing the game. I chose Gmail, because it created the least amount of onboarding friction for me.
As a hardcore PC gamer (or “Gladiator Gardener” according to a quiz from Quantic Foundry), I found Tetro Tiles to be surprisingly fun, addicting, and satisfying. Despite being either a serious FPS player in games like Apex Legends or a farmer/harvester in titles like Animal Crossing, my first experience with a mobile puzzle game was quite positive overall—and so far I’ve gotten two satoshis out of it!
Tetro Tiles doesn’t offer a tutorial, but the learning curve is quick for this simple-yet-fun “play and earn” mobile game. The goal is to fit the randomly-generated Tetris-like pieces into the grid of blocks to complete either full rows or blocks. If you fill up the grid without clearing blocks and run out of places to put pieces, then the game ends.
In my hours of playtesting, I found that certain types of block combinations spawn at different rates. As the game progresses, the more difficult types of block shapes become more common.
Players can withdraw their earned Bitcoin using the “Wallet of Satoshi” app, but keep in mind that the crypto you’ve won will no longer be claimable if not withdrawn by a certain date. This isn’t a big deal, though, because you can withdraw even just a single satoshi thanks to the Lightning Network.
Tetro Tiles’ simple gameplay is super smooth, clean, and non-distracting. I found it strangely therapeutic and relaxing compared to the competitive games I’m used to. And while minimal, the game’s sound effects are satisfying. Who doesn’t like a good ASMR “click” as blocks snap onto a board?
Tetro Tiles’ beauty is in its simplicity. It’s not overwhelming your dopamine centers with digital sparkling candies and over-the-top animations, plus it isn’t interrupting your gameplay with spammy ads, either.
That said, ads are a necessary evil for the free-to-play mobile gaming space. In the free version I played, a full-screen video ad occurred after roughly every two to three game sessions, which meant typically every few minutes or so between games. The ads, unfortunately, were difficult to scroll away from or exit, so I ended up closing and reopening the app to get back to playing Tetro Tiles instead of waiting through another ad.
For those uninterested in dealing with mobile game ads, Tetro Tiles offers a paid VIP version which offers an ad-free gaming experience, as well as custom “skins” or designs for your game. The offerings are cute and varied, paying homage to puzzle gaming hits like Tetris and Candy Crush.
Tetro Tiles also has a lottery mechanic, wherein “tickets” you earn from every round are automatically entered into a timed raffle with a certain amount of satoshis given away multiple times a day. While I did not get lucky, others have.
15K sats🟠 by playing TETRO TILES and 165K points!! A beast! 👾🚀 https://t.co/NINMkvZWJG
— THNDR (@THNDRGAMES) April 21, 2023
Overall, Tetro Tiles is easy to play but difficult to master. While it’s mostly based around strategy, there’s also an element of unpredictability as the types of block combinations you’ll have to place are randomly generated.
And crucially, unlike some play-and-earn games, the Bitcoin elements don’t feel like an overwhelming focus at the expense of the gameplay experience. Tetro Tiles would certainly be sparser without its play-and-earn premise—but I’d still play it.