Don’t Make Overkill’s Mistake: Release Scheduling

So most of you are probably already aware of the term “Valve Time”, but for the uninitiated, Valve Time works like this. Valve Software will say that they’re going to release a thing by a certain date. That date comes and goes with no word. Maybe three months or so later they release the thing, but the thing is beautiful, complete, and for the most part, glitch free.

By contrast, there’s Overkill Time. Which is not really a thing, just something I’ve made up.

Overkill doesn’t really do release dates. There have been some vague ones. May for the Alesso Heist. Next Fall for sound updates. For the most part, they seem to prefer the surprise element of springing updates on players. I assume the surprise of it is what they like about not having a public production schedule because Overkill actually doesn’t take advantage of the opening they give themselves. Even without needing to meet a deadline, they publish glitchy, broken, ugly shit.

Don’t make Overkill’s mistake.

Ideally, you want to combine the best parts of these scheduling plans for the greatest effect.

Overkill’s advantage in this situation is that they don’t say when they’re planning to release things. They’ve become very good at not telling anyone they’re going to do things until they’re actually doing them, which means they never miss a deadline. By never missing a deadline, they never disappoint their fans that way.

They save that for their content.

Valve could honestly take a note because that’s the one piece of the puzzle that they’re missing from their process. If they didn’t give out release dates, Valve Time wouldn’t even be a thing.

And that’s all they’d need. Valve sets deadlines, but they regularly disregard them in favor of producing a more quality product. Valve Time is essentially the antithesis of Crunch Time. It is the direct result of them dismissing crunch time from their business practices. And because they don’t give a shit abut meeting the Christmas rush, their games are always A++.

You will never see a Valve product ship with the kind of user interface bugs that Overkill is prone to. You will never be missing content, especially if you paid for it. Your Valve games will not include shit that crashes the game to desktop for more than a tiny percentage of players. Not only that, but everything will be beautiful and cohesive. Valve Time is used to polish and perfect their work and they don’t release that work until it is fully and truly Done.

So do that, but don’t tell anyone when you think it will be done. Odds are, if you’re truly spit-shining that apple, it ain’t gonna be done as soon as you’re thinking. When you finally do release, your content will be on fkn point and you won’t have missed a deadline to make it so because you never set one in the first place.

Here is an extra credit proshit protip though: If the element of surprise is indispensable to you, then set yourself up to over-deliver.

Estimate how long you expect developing your content to take, and then select a release date that far exceeds it. Mind, you want a date that isn’t so far off that people resolve to forget about you until then, but distant enough that the difference in delivery times will be exciting. You want it to be like getting that shit your ordered from Amazon three days early. You want people to be surprised by how much sooner than anticipated they’re getting new content and by how not fucked up that content is in respect to its seemingly “rushed” arrival.

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September 2020