Update: We received a response from EA that will at least make it possible to get Tetris for iPad back if you paid for the original version. Check the bottom of the post for more details.
EA Mobile has just released a new version of Tetris for the iPad. It uses the updated control method that the new iPhone/iPod touch version uses. That's well and good. The new control method is actually one of the better improvements on Tetris I've seen. But the problem is, you have to re-buy it. Even if you bought the old Tetris, you have to re-buy this one and you don't have access to the old app anymore.
Let's say someone who has purchased Tetris for the iPad moves to a new iPad, or even gets a replacement under warranty. If that user, like many, doesn't back up to iTunes on the desktop, they will no longer have access to the Tetris app they previously paid for.
Developers that want to put out new versions of apps and charge for them are more than welcome to. We'll let consumers vote with their downloads on wether that is a good idea. But to make unavailable to download a previously purchased item? That's a pure anti-customer, and obvious revenue-based decision.
The lack of an ability to download previously paid for digital goods, in the case an app, is the real problem. In the world of digital distribution, one where we are moving to a cloud-based backend and a Post-PC world, the apps and other digital media you buy in the App Store, you expect to be available forever. But the sad truth is, they are not available if the developer chooses to pull them. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of Tetris for iPad users that will find that out next time they upgrade devices and try to download the app.
And that is not the idea that Apple had when it introduced iTunes in the Cloud and subscribed to the Post-PC idea of the future.
This isn't the first time EA has done this either. The original Bejeweled 2 has been pulled in favor of an IAP loaded version of the same just called Bejeweled. And of course, the same trick was played with Tetris for the iPhone/iPod touch.
And to make things even worse, the previous Tetris for the iPad was publicized and put on sale as recently as last week, in EA's Easter app sale.
EA, please stop cheating your loyal and paying customers. There's no reason they should be required to re-pay for new apps because the decision is made to update them. If they are happy with the old version, they should still have access to it.
Note that we have asked EA for comment on this, but due to multiple timing issues including deadlines, time zone differences, and our contact being out of the office, we have yet to hear back. We will update this post when we do get an official response.
Update: 4/13 We heard back from Alexis McDowel, PR Director for EA. The following is their response to our query on where Tetris for iPad the original version went.
As you know, the “old” version of Tetris was recently removed from the App Store in order to accommodate the new version of the game (which is also titled “Tetris” but has several new/different gameplay modes and features ), but consumers who have previously purchased Tetris should still have access to it via their “Purchased” account in the cloud—even if they’ve bought a new device and are trying to access the game from that newer device, it should be in there.
We just tried it on our end (i.e., trying to pull up the “old” purchased Tetris on a new device), and we were able to do it with by following these steps on our new device:
1) Click on App Store
3) Not on this iPad
4) Scroll through to find your title and download.
We also checked with one of our on-site support members and were told that your previous Tetris purchase should not go away as long as your firmware is updated—no sync to a desktop necessary.
So there you have it. I have verified this on my iPad and see that Tetris for iPad is available to download even though it's no longer available in the App Store. In light of that, calling this cheating customers is way out of bounds. But confusing and annoying it most certainly is. Since the app can not be searched for in previous purchases for unknown reasons, this will still lead to many users thinking they need to pay for the new version. Confusing and annoying, yes.