Glitch is a whimsical, sweet multiplayer browser-game launched two months ago by Tiny Speck, and it is now un-launching. Having learned a bunch of stuff from both the people who love the game and the people who left it, they've decided that they can't fix things through a series of iterative steps, but rather they must take it down, go back to beta, and make wholesale changes. They're offering 100% refunds to anyone who wants it, and they've got more investment capital in the business to help them along.
Tiny Speck has already made a reputation for being willing to buck received wisdom, and this is the kind of odd and oddly sensible step that I've come to expect from them.
But at the same time, there are two obvious and huge improvements we need to make: the first is to make the early game reveal itself more easily to new players so they can get into the fun faster. The second and larger task is to give those players who have gotten over that initial hump and fallen in love with the game — spending dozens or even hundreds of hours playing — the creative tools that they need to change the world in more tangible ways: building whole new locations themselves, designing new buildings, setting up resource flows and forming flexible organizations to create bigger things together.
These challenges are surmountable — we’re hard at work surmounting them even now. But we always thought we could evolve our way there and the experience of launching taught us that we can’t. Some fairly radical changes to core game mechanics are going to be necessary to make Glitch what it needs to be.
And making radical changes to core game mechanics is something that’s a lot harder to do while the front doors are open and we have to focus on scaling to support growth, stability and providing the quality of service we aim to achieve for the live game. Going back to beta will let us make the changes that need to be made. And so we’re “unlaunching” — and going back to beta.
(Disclosure: My wife is an advisor to the company that makes Glitch)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.