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[Why Do Big Companies Get Lazy?]

Added on 04/11/2012
Tags: iPhone :: games


Perhaps unlike many who advocate open-source and free knowledge, I am also pro big corporations. Not because of their often centralised way of operation (which I find somewhat limited), but because people in those corporation must have worked hard to get where they are. Companies like Apple, Microsoft or Blizzard all started from a bunch of people working together mostly for fun. Somehow, they managed to come up with a product that earned their first big money and somehow they kept the creativity and innovation going until they became big corporations with campuses instead of rented offices.

But somewhere, it seems to have gone wrong. I will not speak of Microsoft here as their products have been disappointing to me since Win XP (or well, at least XP is the lesser evil if you have to choose a Windows) but I would like to concentrate on Apple and Blizzard, work of whose I've admired for some time now. But my faith has been shaken a lot lately.

Apple

I got my first iPod Touch about 5 years ago and it was great. If worked perfectly and it was a real innovation for its time. A year after that, I bought a newer model and my first MacBook and I still could not complain. I fell in love with Apple's hardware and software design straight away. Things started going wrong when I got a MacBook Pro, about 2 years ago. It kept breaking down any video cable that was plugged into it, until a Genius at the Apple Store found out that the motherboard was somewhat faulty. I got a new computer for free and it was fine since. It was about that time that my old MacBook (now 2.5 years old) started loosing some of its plastic cover. Apple replaced the case for free, even though the laptop was out of warranty already. About a year ago, I bough an iPhone 4S and its case started opening after about 3 weeks after purchase. Again, a free replacement solved the issue. Finally, my newest MacBook Pro, that I got about 2 months ago, had a problem with its display. It had to be replaced and now it's fine.

To summarise, ALL Apple product that I bought within the last 3 years had some sort of hardware fault. Perhaps I am unlucky but if Apple wants to charge so much for their products, shouldn't they take a better care during manufacturing? Sure, visits to the Apple store are pleasant because of the friendly staff and great air conditioning, but I still would rather do something else than be there, perhaps use the devices I bought.

Blizzard

The quality of Blizzard products seems to be deteriorating as well. I have always been a big fan of all Blizzard games, Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo. I played World of Warcraft for a couple of years. The reason why Blizzard was so successful was that their games truly pushed the limits of their times. Their old games were innovative, had a great atmosphere and were a warranty of good fun. I never regretted paying for them, although they weren't the cheapest. For example, there was so much that Blizzard has done in transferring RPG into MMORPG and World of Warcraft was on top of all such games for a long time. But the innovations stopped and WOW became a repeated sequence of actions throughout. Sure, the stories behind WOW are still great (and I read almost all of the books now), but the game experience became so boring for me that I stopped playing.

Diablo III was an even greater disappointment. They obviously spent a lot of time balancing the fight and making it fun (or at least slightly less repetitive that WOW fighting) but all else was just bad. The story was too short and there weren't almost any surprises. The darkness of music that accompanied Diablo I and to some extend Diablo II was missing. What's worse, the game felt like WOW. The interfaces were just WOW with different images. The way inventory and spells were handled were WOW too. So it seems that in all its glory, Blizzard has decided to take WOW code and refurbish it into Diablo III. Very disappointing, especially considering that it took them a considerable amount of time to release Diablo and that they wanted about £30 for it. I finished the game in about 30 hours and couldn't believe the linearity and ending of the story.

There is still hope

One would think that the more money a company has, the more innovation it will be able to afford and the better its products will be. But human laziness perhaps plays a bigger role than lust for creativity. It is still my hope that Apple and Blizzard will recover and realise that they have to work harder, unless they want to be swept away by competition in a couple of years. In the end, what should matter is not money but the fact that you are leading your market, pushing it towards brand new horizons. I am still hopeful, although cautiously.



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