What the Batman: Arkham Knight PC debacle says about software development

So last weekend I needed to buy a new PC graphics card because my old one was starting to act up. I got a brand new latest generation card for a reasonable price which is faster, smaller and uses less power. So all is good.

Along with the card, I got a coupon code for a promotional copy of the new “Batman: Arkham Knight” game, which I duly downloaded on Tuesday when it was released.

Some preliminary playing around with the game revealed that the performance wasn’t really all that great and then a couple of days later, the full story came out that there were serious problems with the PC version and the game was withdrawn from sale.

I think we’ve been here before. Software development is not easy, and takes lots of skill and time to perfect. If you give the job to mediocre developers with not enough time, this is sort of what you get. It’s happened so often in the past and will continue to happen.

My years of experience in software development have shown me that it pretty much boils down to two choices.  Skimp on quality and make it look pretty with some slick marketing or take the extra time to build something with enduring quality.

When we started Spiffy Stores, we kind of wanted to take the second approach and build something that would really meet our customers needs and would work reliably over time as their needs grew and expanded with their businesses. This benefits our customers, but also we benefit because with more reliabe software, we spend less time fighting fires and fixing bugs which is good for everyone.

I’m not so sure everyone in this business follows the same path. In fact it’s quite clear that some of our competitors skimp on product development and push the marketing side in order to recruit as many customers as possible.

At the end of the day they may end up with the biggest share of customers, but I wonder if that’s a worthy goal if you’re short-changing them in the product that you’re delivering.

It’s kind of like “Batman: Arkham Knight”. Sure, the game’s playable, but it’s not really the best it could be and maybe our customers and their businesses deserve better.