Few companies have the ability to consistently create great products. Valve and Blizzard seem to have this superpower. What do these two companies have in common?
Valve started working on their first game in 1996. Valve was really ambitious and aimed to have their release coincide with Quake II. Close to the release date, Valve decided to postpone. The game was not as fun and innovative as they had hoped for.
Imagine the tension at Valve’s office. The future of the company was riding on this game. Valve never released any game before and were burning money. Their first release would be postponed even though the release date had already been announced. It was a really tough decision to make. Valve would spend even more money with zero guarantee it would pay off.
Valve carefully reworked every level in the game and tweaked all aspects of the game design. The pressure cooker environment resulted in the invention of the cabal design process, still used by Valve to this day. The game was finally released in 1998 and became one of the best games of all-time: Half-life.
Blizzard cancelled Warcraft Adventures and Starcraft Ghost. These games did not meet their high standards as well. People are still disappointed these games were never released. Valve canceled Team Fortress 2: Brotherhood of Arms, and later released Team Fortress 2.
Most companies would simply release. Just try to recoup as much money as possible.
Blizzard and Valve ask: is it good enough? If not, they would rather not release. The trust people lose in their brand costs much more in the long term than what can be offset by releasing it anyways.
Next time you release something take the time to reflect: is it really good enough?
Unless there is no risk to adding polish later. Then start small, measure, inspect and adapt.