Apple’s iPhone game of the year Threes updates with free version

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Indie developer Sirvo LLC has released a free version of its mobile number puzzler Threes for iOS and Android, adopting a unique approach to revenue generation that puts advertising in the hands of the players. If the $3 price tag was the only thing keeping you with its inferior, free clone, 2048, then now is the perfect time to try out the original.

The free version of Threes is powered by credits that players can rack up by watching in-game advertisement videos at their leisure. These credits can be earned and stacked at any point between gameplay sessions, preserving the game’s structure and flow without interruptions from unskippable ad breaks.

The approach is different from the revenue model adopted by many free-to-play mobile apps, which often ask users to watch ads for in-game bonuses or to simply continue gameplay. Rival puzzler Drop7 inserts a video advertisement after every few play sessions, which must be watched in full before gameplay can resume. Tap-based games like Bitcoin Tycoon and AdVenture Capitalist press users to watch ads in order to earn limited-time gameplay upgrades.

If players wish to eliminate advertising altogether, the paid version of Threes remains an option on both iOS and Android. Pitching in $3 for the paid version on either platform ensures an ad-free experience.

Threes is a minimalist puzzle game in which players slide numbered tiles across a 4×4 grid in order to create multiples of three. Sliding a “2” tile into a “1” tile will craft the number “3,” for instance, while sliding two “3”s together will create a “6.” Gameplay becomes exponentially more difficult as the grid fills up with larger numbers, forcing players to adopt strategies to open up as many free spaces as possible while upgrading their available tiles.

Praised by critics, Threes was honored as Apple’s iPhone game of the year for 2014. Following its launch last year, Threes was subsequently ported to Windows Phone and Microsoft’s Xbox One console.