Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stop! Enough already!

At which point do you stop adding? Is there an end point for product expansion? Is simplicity inevitably doomed to be displaced by shiny new things?

As a kid I used to love playing sports video games, sometimes even more than playing the actual sports, and every few years I still think I enjoy them. Keyword: think. Every other year or so I'll pick up the latest NHL or Madden video game, drop it into my Xbox 360, and start a new game.

Then the loading screens flash, showing the controller mappings, and my interest usually goes from mildly curious to nonexistent. Every button and control stick is mapped to multiple functions depending on whether you're on defense or offense, with the ball, without the ball. It's mind boggling. Modern first person shooters and RPGs aren't much better but there's usually some sort of ramp up in game play for you to adjust to before you're expected to be a Dual Shock Harry Connick.

There's always a rush to add more, to make it new, to justify a purchase. With some video games it's to the point now where my hands have problems contorting themselves to chord the buttons correctly.

It's not just video games that are succumbing to this. It's also Facebook. It's Twitter. It's Ford. Some of these goods aren't forced though, I don't have to buy a new video game or a new car if I like the old one, I can just stick with what I have. This doesn't really apply to Twitter or Facebook or the (somewhat) new Google search results page -- these services are forcing new functionality down my throat.

Is it possible for a product or a service to say, "nah, let's stop, I think we're as good as we're going to get"?

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