Vancouver's Tiny Speck launches Glitch, executing on Stewart Butterfield's decade-old vision

by Knowlton Thomas | Startups

UPDATE 2: Glitch is live.


 UPDATE: The game goes live at 10am.

Vancouver-based Tiny Speck  has officially launched Glitch, the materialization of Stewart Butterfield's gaming vision.

Glitch is an side-scrolling MMO described as a "cooperative exercise in world building." In Glitch you can start a business or even a religion, grow trees, or pet animals. It's about gathering resources and learning skills to be creative in how you build a better world for everyone.

The game's idea has been around since 2002, but it couldn't raise funding. So instead, Stewart and his partner Caterina Fake founded Flickr, which subsequently sold to Yahoo for roughly $28 million.

In beta testing, Glitch's glitches were exploited. Quoth the Vancouver Sun:

The original target for the Glitch release was spring 2011, but the game world proved more complex than anticipated.

Very early on, they shut the world down after a short beta test and left for the weekend.

“We came back and all of the pigs in the world were dead. There weren’t people around to tend to the trees or water them, and all the trees died. The pigs survived long enough to at least starve to death, and then it was basically like an apocalypse world.”

On another occasion, one player harvested every tree in the world in order to set up a lumber store.

“If there’s too easy a way for somebody to advance in the game they will always find it -– and when there are thousands of people testing they will find every little loophole that we couldn’t have anticipated.”

Glitch raised $17 million in 3 rounds of financing (from Accel and Andreesen Horrowitz, among others) and had as many as 40 people working on the company for nearing three years. Investors in this free game are also investors in big-time companies like like LinkedIn and Groupon.

Profit (may) come with subscriptions and credits to customize experiences, expecting to break even at about 100,000 players. But Stewart insists that paying players do not get a much better experience competitively, which he believes is the key to a successful freemium gaming model.

Tiny Speck
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Tiny Speck is a small company building something enormous. We show up in the afterburst of highly charged particle collisions; we are the only-imagined baryon consisting of two charmed quarks and one strange. We will blow your minds. more

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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