Gameplay, 2048 is played on a gray 4 × 4 grid, with numbered tiles that slide smoothly when a player moves them with the four arrow keys. Each round, a new tile will randomly appear in an empty spot on the board with a value of either 2 or 4. Tiles slide as far as possible in the selected direction until they are stopped by another tile or the edge of the grid. When two tiles of the same number collide during the movement, they are fused into a tile with the total value of the two tiles that collide. The resulting tile can not fuse with another tile again in the same movement. Higher ceramic tiles emit a soft glow.

A scoreboard on the upper right side tracks the user’s score. The user’s score begins at zero and is incremented when two tiles join through the value of the new tile. As with many arcade games, the best score of the user is shown next to the current score.

A game of 2048 underway

The game is won when a tile with a value of 2048 appears on the board, so the name of the game. After reaching the 2048 tile, the players can continue to play (beyond the 2048 tile) to reach higher scores. If the player has no legal moves (there are no empty spaces and no adjacent tiles with the same value), the game ends.
The simple gameplay mechanics (only four directions) allowed to be used in a promo video for the Myo Gesture Control Armlet, the availability of the underlying code allowed to be used as a teaching tool for programming, and the second-placed winner an encoding competition at Matlab Central Exchange was an AI system that would play 2048 alone.

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