How Glitch’s creator kept pulling successes from his online game failures


NPR recently did an interview with Slack and Flickr creator Stewart Butterfield as part of its series on innovators and entrepreneurs. Butterfield’s drive to create forged a vision for a utopian “Burning Man” online game. He would try not once, but twice, to do this: First with Game Neverending in the early 2000s, and later on with the quirky sandbox MMORPG Glitch. But out of both of those failures, successful products came out of them, the first being Flickr and the second Slack.

“The interesting thing about Glitch was while it wasn’t successful as a business,” Butterfield said, “we were extraordinarily productive. And there was this system for internal communication that we had developed that — we didn’t think about as a thing. Like, it didn’t have a name. We never talked about it. It was just how we happened to communicate.”

While some players may dearly miss Glitch these days, it’s heartening to know that it had an impactful legacy upon the tech world. Slack is now worth $5 billion and is used worldwide — including as Massively OP’s virtual office, where Glitch game icons (like the crab!) are still in use. It’s a really cool listen, especially if you are unaware how Glitch came to be and why that whole title eventually was shuttered and its art assets handed over to the community.

Source: NPR. Thanks Daniel!
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Glitch wasn’t ever even fully launched. It’s sad that it was shut down because of one man’s doubts.

Yes, he did a good thing making sure he found everybody jobs. He is a fairly decent guy and all, but I still feel Glitch could have become something really great. Sure it’s true it probably needed an entire engine change and maybe my thoughts are because I’m looking at how gaming is today instead of back when they made this.

Today it would be on mobile (and cross-platform) using Unity most likely and do fairly amazing.

The cobbled together fan projects probably won’t do nearly as well, but the main game with the full company that first developed it still behind it pushing more content and updates would do extremely well today on mobile, and since it would be Unity it would be easy to also have a PC version along for the ride.


Indeed inspiring! ^^