I’ve always admired Blizzard’s approach to shipping software – “We’ll ship when it’s ready” – policy to shipping software.
And I love it – I love that the quality and featureset come first to the user – the experience of logging in for the first time to an incredible experience is first and foremost.
But can it apply everywhere? Can it work in your industry?
Maybe? At some point in development, Blizzard (and DISCLAIMER – I have never worked at Blizzard, nor do I know anyone from Blizzard) someone is going to start asking – “Guys really, when are we going to be ready, if we’re not going to be done for this XMAS we’re going to miss our window” – they are a business they run in cycles just like everyone else.
So what is it about their fanbase that gives them those two years (with beta cycles both internally and externally) to apply that kind of… dare I say it… waterfall approach to Software Development? They do patches and tweaks here and there, but there is a plan that they are delivering through, dropping pieces here, there and everywhere but it all culminates with a massive 12GB download onto your PC to play the latest expansion pact. I’m sure there are any many iterations in between (how could their not be) but what comes out as the final game is usually released in one fell swoop.
And perhaps you’re getting hung up on the use of Blizzard and Starcraft, so take that slogan and apply it to your favourite game that goes into hiding for 4 years and comes out with some in a shrink-wrapped package for you to purchase. Isn’t that waterfall?
The point – who cares what it is or what flavour of the month it is called, if it followed this or that – every company is different, every company has a twist they put on their development practices. Figure out what your end goals are, develop a process that hits the mark, try it out, tweak and try again.
Don’t get hung up on what it’s called, call it your own and go out there and build some great software.