To launch or not to launch?

In our last team meeting, the lead programmer suggested launching the Math Ball app in the beginning of August. The single-player mode will be complete and we can release an update for multiplayer as soon as that is ready.

Initially, I was happy about this. This app has been 21 years in the making; from the first realisation about how to make a playable educational game, which occurred to me in Japan in January 1997, through to playing the first version on my cell phone some months ago. The journey, which literally began on a train, has involved let downs, learning to program, reading scores of books on game design and development, and nearly two decades spent producing classroom games. Last but not least our life savings.

In the end, however, we seem to have decided against launching in August. The cause was post-mortems written by indie developers on Gamasutra. One common lament was that releasing a game without multiplayer causes a negative reaction on social media.

It was sad to postpone launch when we have waited for it for so long, but the evidence is that multiplayer is essential. Arguably the best book on game development, ‘Glued to Games’ by Rigby and Ryan, examines the psychological drives which lie behind our desire to play – and our need for social involvement is a central part of our humanity. So launch will be delayed a little while longer.

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