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Why projects slip: commercial games

January 23, 2008 3 Comments

From CVG comes an interesting (if brief) article on why so many commercial computer game projects are late:

PC gamers waited with bated breath, to the point of asphyxiation, for Half-Life 2, but the game took an eternity to complete. Likewise, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 teased us with expectation until its eventual release, alongside Team Fortress 2 (nine years in the making), in Valve’s The Orange Box. Doom 3, BioShock, Crysis: all were delayed.

Meanwhile, other PC games – such as Duke Nukem Forever, Too Human, and StarCraft: Ghost – have turned release dates into Monty Python-esque jokes. When we eventually play these games, we’ll be flying around in hovercars.

And the fun continues: Spore’s release has been put back until at least April, Warhammer Online was moved from early this year to the summer, and who honestly knows when the world will see GTA IV?

The article doesn’t go into as much depth as I’d like, but does note at least three major issues: delays in getting access to licensed rights and technology; overly ambitious designs; and deliberate slips so as to even out cash flow.

Note that commercial computer games form a multi-billion-dollar industry (Americans now spend nearly twice as much on video games than they do on movie tickets).

About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

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