Quality Trumps Speed

Interesting perspective from Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick reported by Ars:

During a conference call accompanying today’s earnings report, Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick attributed the company’s inability to reach its revenue and profit goals last year to “slippage”—what you or I might simply call “delaying games.” He insisted multiple times that putting off marquee titles until they’re really fully ready is the best way for the company to ensure long-term growth, even though such delays might sometimes lead to disappointing-looking numbers in the short term.

He’s right. These days software (both the printed disks and the web) have shifted from a model of pushing a quality product out the door to pushing something out the door as quick as possible. The reality is customers only care about the quality products.

Truth is customers generally never know how long it took you to build something. It could be 10 years, it could be an hour. They just look at the quality and utility of what you’ve done to make their decision. If you’re short on time it’s because you’re too late to put a vision together, or you’re short sighted with your product. Shipping a poor product because of those failures doesn’t make up for it. Fixing strategy and vision to give enough lead time to construct it is the proper fix.

I can’t think of anything that succeeded because it quickly went through development. Ever. Even being first to market doesn’t guarantee success. Friendster went bust. Yahoo went bust. Customers have little loyalty beyond a few cult elitists (Apple fans, BMW drivers for example). I can think of quality products “years in the making” that succeeded. Being first doesn’t mean you win. Being the best means you win.

Perhaps it’s time to stop fearing becoming the next Duke Nukem’ Forever.

The Death Of Duke Nukem Forever

Way back in 2006 I blogged about all the things that took less time than Duke Nukem Forever. A running joke in the technology industry as a whole has been how long the mythical game has taken to develop. Wars have started and ended in less time than they spent on the game. Take World War II for example.

Now that it’s effectively a dead project, Wired has an excellent article on the death of Duke Nukem Forever. It’s a very worthwhile read if you have any interest in technology, business, gaming, or just succeeding in anything. Among the takeaways:

  • Having seemingly unlimited money can be a curse more than a blessing. Being on a budget forces discipline that’s necessary regardless of budget.
  • Always have milestones and deadlines.
  • Always have an end-game.
  • Once you pick your platform, stick with it until you release a product unless it’s impossible to do so.
  • Check your ego.

I suspect at the end it’s now come down to an IP grab and they are really just trying to get the name, which is likely worth more than all the years of software development in the project. That however doesn’t take away from how poorly managed things were.

Web Development has a notable difference in that it never really “ships”. So there’s no end-game unless your handing off the project/code. It’s an iterative process. That however still leaves milestones that need to be met.

Hopefully someone will salvage what’s left and release the game. However that would only be a good thing if its done right. To often these situations end up with a half-baked half-salvaged Frankenstein of a product.