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2048 (video game)

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2048 logo.svg
App icon
Developer(s)Gabriele Cirulli
Platform(s)Web browser, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Android, Apple TV, KaiOS, Teslatari
ReleaseWeb: 9 March 2014[1]

2048 is a single-player sliding tile puzzle video game written by Italian web developer Gabriele Cirulli and published on GitHub. The objective of the game is to slide numbered tiles on a grid to combine them to create a tile with the number 2048; however, one can continue to play the game after reaching the goal, creating tiles with larger numbers. It was originally written in JavaScript and CSS over a weekend, and released on 9 March 2014 as free and open-source software subject to the MIT License. Versions for iOS and Android followed in May 2014.

2048 was intended to be an improved version of two other games, both of which were clones of the iOS game Threes released a month earlier. Cirulli himself described 2048 as being "conceptually similar" to Threes.[2] The release of 2048 resulted in the rapid appearance of many similar games, akin to the flood of Flappy Bird variations from 2013. The game received generally positive reviews from critics, with it being described as "viral" and "addictive".


A completed game. The 2048 tile is in the bottom-right corner.

2048 is played on a plain 4×4 grid, with numbered tiles that slide when a player moves them using the four arrow keys.[3] Every turn, a new tile randomly appears in an empty spot on the board with a value of either 2 or 4.[4] Tiles slide as far as possible in the chosen direction until they are stopped by either another tile or the edge of the grid. If two tiles of the same number collide while moving, they will merge into a tile with the total value of the two tiles that collided.[5][6] The resulting tile cannot merge with another tile again in the same move. Higher-scoring tiles emit a soft glow;[4] the highest possible tile is 131,072.[7]

If a move causes three consecutive tiles of the same value to slide together, only the two tiles farthest along the direction of motion will combine. If all four spaces in a row or column are filled with tiles of the same value, a move parallel to that row/column will combine the first two and last two.[8] A scoreboard on the upper-right keeps track of the user's score. The user's score starts at zero, and is increased whenever two tiles combine, by the value of the new tile.[4]

The game is won when a tile with a value of 2048 appears on the board. Players can continue beyond that to reach higher scores.[9][10][11] When the player has no legal moves (there are no empty spaces and no adjacent tiles with the same value), the game ends.[2][12]


Nineteen-year-old Gabriele Cirulli created the game in a single weekend as a test to see if he could program a game from scratch.[13] "It was a way to pass the time", he said.[14] He described it as being "conceptually similar" to the recently released iOS game Threes,[2][15] and a clone of another game, 1024.[16] Developed by Veewo Studio,[17] 1024 is itself a clone of Threes, with its App Store description once reading "no need to pay for Threes".[18] Cirulli's README for 2048 cites another 1024 clone as influence: the homonymous but slightly different in terms of mechanics 2048 by Saming.[19]

Cirulli was surprised when his weekend project received over 4 million visitors in less than a week,[3][20] The game is free to play, Cirulli having said that he was unwilling to make money "from a concept that [he] didn't invent".[21] He released ports for iOS and Android in May 2014.[22]


A 2048 variant played on a terminal using the curses library

The simple controls allowed it to be used in a promo video for the Myo gesture control armband,[23] and the availability of the code underneath allowed it to be used as a teaching aid for programming.[24] The second-place winner of a coding contest at Matlab Central Exchange was an AI system that would play 2048 on its own.[25] As the source code is available, many additions to the original game, including a score leaderboard, an undo feature, and improved touchscreen playability have been written by other people. All are available to the public.[3][24]

Spinoffs have been released online and include versions with elements from the Doge meme, Doctor Who, Flappy Bird and Tetris. There has also been a 3D version[26] and versions with bigger or smaller grids.[6] Cirulli sees these spinoffs as "part of the beauty of open source software"[5] and does not object to them "as long as they add new, creative modifications to the game".[27] In 2014, an unofficial clone of the game was published in the iOS app store by Ketchapp, monetized with advertising.[28] There has also been a Doctor Who spinoff of the game,[29] as well as one for the Nintendo 3DS, which included a retail release.[30]


The game has been described by The Wall Street Journal as "almost like Candy Crush for math geeks",[5] and Business Insider called it "Threes on steroids".[1] Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post called it "a nerdy, minimalist, frustrating game",[10] while The Independent called it "addictive".[18] The phenomenon of 2048 has been compared to that of Flappy Bird by several commentators. Both games' success, and their simplicity, led to the rapid creation of many variants, and both games have been described as "viral" and "very addictive".[31]

James Vincent of The Independent labeled 2048 as "a clone of a clone".[18] In April 2014, Pocket Gamer reported that 15 new clones of Threes were released daily in the App Store.[32] When asked if he was concerned that his situation would end up as stressed as that of Nguyễn Hà Đông, the creator of Flappy Bird, Cirulli said that he had "already gone through that phase" on a smaller scale, and that once he had decided against monetizing 2048, he "stopped feeling awkward."[2]

In response to rampant cloning, the creators of Threes! published a log of how the game evolved over its 14-month development cycle. They said they had tried and dismissed 2048's tile merging variant, because it made the game too easy.[33] In a 2014 Wired article, they claimed to have each beaten 2048 on their first play.[33]


  1. ^ a b Dickey, Megan Rose (23 March 2014). "Puzzle Game 2048 Will Make You Forget Flappy Bird Ever Existed". Business Insider. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Ferri-Benedetti, Fabrizio (26 March 2014). "The creator of 2048 tells us the secret behind the game's success". Softonic. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Spence, Peter (17 March 2014). "How One 19 Year Old Won the Internet with Addictive Puzzler 2048". City A.M.
  4. ^ a b c Rodriguez, Salvador (24 March 2014). "Move over Flappy Bird: The latest gaming craze is 2048". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ a b c Ballard, Ed (18 March 2014). "Want to Stay Anonymous? Don't Make a Hit Computer Game". The Wall Street Journal.
  6. ^ a b Chang, Jon (24 March 2014). "'2048' Is the Next Mobile Game to Eat Up Your Time". ABC News. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  7. ^ Neller, Todd W. (2015). "Pedagogical Possibilities for the 2048 Puzzle Game". Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges. 30 (3): 38–46 [39].
  8. ^ Price, Rob (2 March 2020). "This hyper-addictive math game is driving the Internet insane". Daily Dot. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  9. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (26 March 2014). "19-Year-Old Makes Viral Game Hit in a Weekend". CNBC. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b Dewey, Caitlin (23 April 2014). "Everything you ever wanted to know about 2048, the Internet's latest impossible hit game". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  11. ^ Statt, Nick (22 March 2014). "2048 starts easy; gets hard. Here's how to make it easy again". CNet. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  12. ^ Hartmans, Avery (18 January 2018). "How to play '2048,' the addicting smartphone game Travis Kalanick is obsessed with". Business Insider. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  13. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (27 March 2014). "2048: The new app everyone's talking about". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  14. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (26 March 2014). "19-Year-Old Makes Viral Game Hit in a Weekend". CNBC. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  15. ^ Hern, Alex (31 March 2014). "'Threes is the reason 2048 exists' - game creators hit out at clone". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  16. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (26 March 2014). "19-year-old makes viral game hit in a weekend". CNBC. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  17. ^ Saming. "2048". Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  18. ^ a b c Vincent, James (21 March 2014). "2048: How to play the addictive successor to the Flappy Bird game". The Independent. Archived from the original on 28 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  19. ^ Cirulli, Gabriele (10 March 2014). "". Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  20. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (27 March 2014). "Maker of Hit Puzzle Game '2048' Says He Created It over a Weekend". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  21. ^ Reinsberg, Hillary (18 March 2014). "Why This Free Puzzle Game Is The Most Addictive Thing On The Internet". Buzzfeed News. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  22. ^ "2048, success and me — Gabriele Cirulli". Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  23. ^ Etherington, Darrell (24 March 2014). "Watch The Myo Armband Make One 2048 Addict Feel like He's 'A Part' of The Game". TechCrunch. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  24. ^ a b Brown, Andy & Spikes, Sarah. "Make Your Own 2048". Udacity. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  25. ^ "2048 Game Solver". The MathWorks, Inc. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  26. ^ Perez, Sarah (24 March 2014). "Clones, Clones Everywhere – '1024,' "2048' and Other Copies of Popular Paid Game 'Threes' Fill The App Stores". Techcrunch. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  27. ^ Graham, Jefferson (28 March 2014). "2048: The new app everyone's talking about". USA Today. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  28. ^ Klepek, Patrick (30 April 2015). "The Messy Story Behind A Game Clone". Kotaku. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  29. ^ Fullerton, Huw (30 July 2020). "Doctor Who fans are losing their minds over the new 'Thirteen' Doctors game". Radio Times. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  30. ^ Schreier, Jason (19 June 2014). "Clone of Clone of Clone Now on 3DS eShop". Kotaku. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  31. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (24 March 2014). "Move over Flappy Bird: The latest gaming craze is 2048". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  32. ^ Brown, Mark (7 April 2014). "There are 15 new Threes! / 2048 clones released on the App Store every day". Pocket Gamer.
  33. ^ a b Vanhemert, Kyle (7 May 2014). "Design Is Why 2048 Sucks, and Threes Is a Masterpiece". Wired.

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