Tetris Ending Explained – Who gets the worldwide rights to Tetris in the end?

Tetris Plot Summary

Tetris follows the story of Henk Rogers, an entrepreneur and the owner of Bullet Proof Software, and his discovery of a classic video game. Russian coder Alexey Pajitnov created the game, named after mushing together “tetra” (meaning four in Greek) and “tennis” (Alexey’s favourite sport).

Henk strikes up a partnership to become Nintendo’s exclusive publisher and now wants handheld rights for an upcoming project. Henk finds competition in Mirrorsoft for the rights to license Tetris and goes to Moscow to buy them directly from ELORG, the State-run organization that controlled everything. But as he digs deeper, he finds an unpacked maelstrom of lies, deceit, and corruption threatens to derail his life and the fortunes of the Russian State.

Is Tetris based on a true story?

Yes, Tetris is based on the true story of Henk Rogers and Bullet Proof Software. Henk had partnered up with Nintendo to be its exclusive publisher for the handheld version of the game. Robert Maxwell and Mirrorsoft were involved in the entanglement too, as was Robert Stein. Even though most parts of the film are fictionalized for the purpose of adapting the story, the core plot is inspired by these incredible true events.

How did Henk Rogers come across the Tetris game? What did he do after seeing it?

It was in 1988 that Henk sees the game for the first time. He describes it as poetry in motion. “The synchronicity of art and maths in the falling colorful blocks stays with you even after you’ve finished the game,” he says to Eddie, a banker from whom Henk asks for a hefty $3 million loan.┬áHenk became the official licensee of Tetris in Japan for pc games, consoles, and arcades. He bought the rights from a Mirrorsoft rep in an electronics exhibition in LA.

It is already a hit in USSR. It was made four years ago by Alexey Pajintov, a coder for Soviet Computer Science Center. Elektronica 60 was the stone age computer that he built the game on. It didn’t even have a graphics card. His blocks were parentheses pushed together.

He and his friends made it IBM-compatible. Floppy disks made copying it easy and it spread like wildfire. An entrepreneur called Robert Stein of Andromeda Software made a deal to license the game from Pajitnov for $10,000 around two years later. He used to go to East Europe to buy cheap licensing deals for games and sold them to the West for big profits.

Then, one year ahead, he partnered with Robert Maxwell of Mirrorsoft in London. His son Kevin Maxwell is the CEO of the company. Tetris became the first game to leave the environs of the Iron Curtain.

Henk, who owned and ran Bullet Proof Software, then went to Nintendo. He met with CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi. He offered Henk $500,000 but Henk refused. He wanted to publish the game and Nintendo only did it in-house. But Henk knows Yamauchi makes exceptions and the CEO is impressed. “Having partners is what makes you great!” says Henk. Yamauchi orders 200,000 cartridges and makes Henk an exclusive publisher.

Henk asks Eddie for $3 million. Eddie ups the stakes and asks for the house to be attached as collateral and higher interest rates. Akemi, Henk’s wife, lives in Tokyo with him and is the CFO of Bullet Proof. She agrees to the deal when Henk shows how Maya and Julie were absolutely invested in the game.

Why did Henk Rogers go to Moscow?

It was all kickstarted when Kevin calls Henk and tells him that Mirrorsoft has licensed the game to SEGA, Nintendo’s gaming rival, for arcades in Japan. But Henk can have PC and video game rights. Henk gives the cartridges to Yamauchi, who vows to help Henk with the arcade issue with help from Nintendo guys in Seattle. He meets Minoru Arakawa, President of Nintendo US, and Howard Lincoln, Senior VP and Chief Legal Officer. They make him sign an NDA to show him: THE GAMEBOY.

It is Nintendo’s flagship project for the masses that will take the market by storm. He programs the Tetris game inside the Gameboy and they love it.

He goes to London next and meets Kevin. Maxwell is already in a meeting with Stein, as the Russians are asking Stein for royalties owed to them in exchange for rights to arcade games. But Stein can’t pay them unless Maxwell pays him. Henk wants to buy handheld rights to Tetris. Maxwells senses an opportunity and stalls for time.

Henk meets Stein personally and offers $25,000 and royalty for handheld rights. Stein plays a game on Henk and sells the rights to Atari, for $100,00. He is cutting Henk and Mirrorsoft out of the deal. Kevin almost comes to blows with Stein over this at Stein’s office. Stein pleads that he hasn’t got the rights yet, which forces Kevin to end his relationship with Stein and deal with the Russians directly.

Henk says he will go to USSR as well and talk to ELORG for the rights to Tetris handheld version. Howard warns him no companies exist in Russia and ELORG is KGB itself. Minoru says if Henk goes on a tourist visa and does business, it is a felony. Since Henk has already risked it all, he must go for the sake of his family. If this deal does not go his way, he stands to lose everything.

What did Henk Rogers discover in Moscow about the rights to Tetris he had?

Nikolai shockingly claimed ELORG never licensed the rights for anything other than computer games for Tetris when Henk had the first meeting at the State office. Henk shows him the chain – ELORG>Stein>Mirrorsoft> Bullet Proof (by a representative in Las Vegas). Nikolai calls the copy Henk shows him illegal. Nikolai says that ELORG didn’t sell any arcade rights to Stein or Maxwell either. Henk tells him that they are selling the rights worldwide falsely saying they secured them from ELORG. Henk asks for the contract ELORG signed for exclusive rights to the computer game. Funnily enough, Stein is there also.

How did Stein signing the new contract with Nikolai damage Mirrorsoft?

Valentin asks Kevin for a bribe as he believes communism is dying and that the Bolshevik principles only make people poorer. Kevin is straightforward and denies his attempts. Robert Maxwell talks to Valentin directly. The boss asks Boris to stop the recording, which is uncharacteristic. He asks for $ 800k wired to a Swiss account. Robert offers $ 400k instead and says Stein is too cheap and Henk has no money to offer to Valentin. He agrees and also Robert asks that Kevin mustn’t know of this. Keeping this plan in mind, Stein signing a new contract with Nikolai changed the game entirely for the deal.

Henk understands the confusion when Nikolai shows him the contract that Stein initially signed with ELORG. Russia didn’t intentionally sell the rights for Tetris. They only sold rights for personal computers. Henk shows images of a computer and a Nintendo, the latter does not have a keyboard and that’s the only difference. Stein screwed the Russians but Henk has legal rights for Tetris. the word “Computer” must be defined the next time by Russians. Stein did steal arcade rights from Russians. Nikolai takes the information and drafts a new contract where the word “computer’s” definition has a keyboard. He takes the contract to Stein who is ready to sign it to discuss handheld rights.

That is how the deal between the Soviets and Stein got vitiated. Stein could not fulfil the obligations of the new contract. And since the old contract was null and voided, Mirrorsoft had lost the rights to Tetris – for any form of gaming – the moment that Stein signed the new contract, all thanks to Henk’s honest evaluation and intention to help the Russians.

How did the KGB harass Henk and Alexey?

Alexey’s harassment started the minute he made the game, although it intensified after his association with Henk. Since Valentin did not want the deal to go to Henk at any cost, he threatened Alexey multiple times. It went to the next level when Alexey agreed to have dinner with Henk. Alexey calls Henk into his house. Nina accuses Henk stole the game but Henk sets the record right. He plays the original game on Alexey’s computer. While doing it, he suggests changes like more lines disappearing at once instead of just a single line. Nina and Henk are fearful of KGB. They ask Henk to leave. Henk instead asks Alexey to take him to a place where people like him hang out. Boris gives photos of Henk going to the house to Valentin.

After this, they tried to threaten Henk first. They send men from the Russian embassy in Tokyo to Henk’s office. They threaten Akemi and the kids. Boris and others attack Henk in a parking lot. They beat him and tell him to go home and also steal his jeans. His hotel has also been ransacked. Sasha arrives and says her home was also ransacked. She tells him to leave as well. She kisses Henk but he doesn’t let it go any further. In fact, this was to blackmail Henk later with these images, since Sasha is a KGB agent.

Valentin goes to Alexey the next morning. He warns Alexey that if he continues in his ways, his father’s fate will befall him. Alexey picks up Henk in a cab. He tells him about his father and how he lost his job by simply signing a letter of protest. Alexey wants not to put his children through that hell again. Valentin also de-housed Alexey and his family from their paternal home because Alexey sent a fax to Henk to invite him to Moscow and take the deal.

Who gets the worldwide rights to Tetris in the end?

Howard and Minoru meet Robert who offers them the handheld rights. This is after they feel Henk can no longer procure the rights for them, Boris beats up Nikolai for trying to sell the rights to Henk surreptitiously and against Valentin’s wishes. Henk comes home. He finds a fax from Nikolai that contract for Tetris is terminated. Also, photos of Sasha and him if he doesn’t stay away. Howard informs Henk that Nintendo is doing a deal with Mirrorsoft for the handheld rights.

Akemi and Maya come home to Henk breaking the phone. He shouts at Akemi who reprimands him for missing Maya’s concert. She goes crying and into her room. Henk fears Nintendo will sue him for fraud and they will lose everything. A bruised-up Nikolai goes to Alexey. He laments what Russia has become. He devoted himself to the country. If Mirrorsoft signs the deal with ELORG, Tetris will go to them. He gives Alexey a letter to send to Henk. Alexey causes a distraction with a fire and sends the fax to Henk. The paper is the letter of intent that Mirrorsoft signed. It is the only thing Mirrorsoft have with ELORG. And it has expired. They do not have a deal.

Kevin comes to the office and finds everyone shredding papers. He says accounting doesn’t have 1 million dollars. Robert tells him he has a deal with Gorbachev but Kevin says the Soviet Union is exploding. They will only survive if the deal with Nintendo goes through. Henk takes the letter to Howard and Minoru. He declares that “No one has the rights to Tetris in America,” as confirmed by the letter of intent.

They can still get it. Henk doesn’t have rights in Japan because Stein and Mirrorsoft never had the rights to sell them to Henk. Atari, Nintendo’s rival, does not have rights to Tetris anywhere. Howard and Minoru sense an opportunity and agree to accompany Henk to Moscow. Their arrival is informed to Boris. Alexey is fired from his job post this. They have also made him homeless. Valentin gives a final warning to Alexey. A meeting with Nikolai happens. Nintendo offers a $1 royalty per unit and an upfront amount 5 million. Sasha is in the room also. She rejects the deal because she is Valentin’s loyal and does not want it to conclude without his say-so. Nikolai has to agree given what happened to him previously.

Valentin gives Robert 24 hours for the 1 million deal. Sasha has the same doubts as Nikolai and understands Valentin’s personal gain. Kevin informs Robert of handheld and video game rights. Robert is stunned that they already have video game rights. Stein walks in and punches Kevin. He thinks Robert went behind his back and signed video games and handheld rights with Russians. Mirrorsoft DO NOT have video games right after Stein signed the contract! Kevin and Stein fight amongst themselves while Robert goes through the contract. Robert says he is going to Moscow.

How doe Tetris end?

At ELORG, Robert tries to strong-hand Nikolai into signing the deal. The terms of the contract that Mirrorsoft first signed were that if they made a counter offer the Russians will have to accept the deal. Henk, Howard, and Minoru reach the office at once and offer the fairer deal. It is quite clear when Robert says that the money issue will be solved in the next quarter that Mirrorsoft has gone bankrupt. Nikolai head-butts Robert in the head when he tries to attack him and signs the deal with the Nintendo.

Nikolai immediately asks the Nintendo people and Henk to leave the country because they will not be safe. Valentin reaches ELORG with Boris and Sasha. He openly asks for “his money” which shocks Sasha and Kevin. When Robert says he will give Valentin 50% ownership of Tetris, Valentin rushes out to catch them. Alexey drives in his car and takes them to safety. Sasha goes straight to the General Secretary and he takes due action.

They reach the airport. Valentin arrives at the airport. Henk promises Alexey he will be back but asks him to leave. They make the flight, just because Valentin goes to a different plane. They escape. Sasha comes and arrests Valentin. He calls this the end of Russia and that the entire order will fall. Player 1 (Henk Rogers) finally wins!

Henk arranges for a personal stage at his house for Maya to sing on to make up for missing the concert. Maya agrees after she looks at Akemi. Henk shows Akemi the cheque for $5m from Nintendo; they are finally off the hook!

Is there a post-credit scene?

There is, yes. The post-credit information reveals the following: “The Gameboy is a huge hit. USSR disintegrates. Henk sends Alexey a Gameboy and tickets for San Francisco. That’s their new home. Henk and Alexey went on to form the Tetris company. Robert Stein continued licensing games and never got over Tetris.

Robert Maxwell stole 900 million dollars from his company’s pension funds and had debts exceeding 5 billion resulting in the collapse of his media empire. After Robert Maxwell’s mysterious death, Kevin Maxwell was arrested in connection with his father’s mentioned theft and declared bankruptcy. He was later acquitted. In 2014 Henk appointed Maya as the new CEO of Tetris.”


Read More: Tetris Movie Review

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