Last year, there was an online service that was in very high-demand. It was hyped, but its rollout was very rocky. When it was released to the public, it tended to crash a lot. It couldn’t handle the number of users it was getting.
People criticized the organization that created it for being unprepared for the number of users, and for designing the system poorly. It was quite embarrassing, especially since the organization behind it has always been a lightning rod for controversy.
You probably think I’m talking about the Health Care website. But I’m not. I’m talking about the video game SimCity 4. It’s not the only game that had this kind of problem, though. Same thing happened with Diablo III in 2012.
The game companies got flak for it, too–gamers hate Electronic Arts about as much as Republicans hate President Obama, but with the additional problem that they aren’t allowed to filibuster EA’s products and demand they come back with new ones. It’s the equivalent of if Republicans had to pass and endorse all Obama’s pet projects or else leave politics entirely.
But at what point does this sort of thing start to constitute a pattern? When the U.S. Government and two separate large electronics companies cannot roll out a satisfactory online service, you have to wonder if anyone knows what they are doing as far as building online services.
One argument might be that in all cases, the people making the service thought so many would have to use it–because of the law in the one case, and because of the gaming industry hype machine in the others–that they felt no reason to do a good job on the service in question.
But I don’t buy that for the Health Care case, because it’s one of the major political issues of the time, and even if you are so cynical as to believe the architects don’t care about the people, many of them will find their careers riding on the success or failure of the program. So they had good reason to make sure the product worked from the get-go.
I don’t have any real explanations for this myself. I just think it is interesting that wealthy organizations, who ought to have enough resources to understand what they can and can’t make, keep failing at debuting web products like this.