21 August 2007

How one-in-ten becomes one-in-three

After ten years as a software developer, I can go on at length about the benefits of cross-platform development & why--in many cases--they far exceed the costs. I'll try to limit myself to one product & one point for the moment, though. Wizards of the Coast is developing a virtual game table to make it easy for a geographically diverse group to play role-playing games via their computers & the internet. So, for instance, a group who played D&D together in college could play again despite being spread all over the country or world since graduation. This isn't a new idea. People have been doing it ad hoc with general purpose chat & other software. There has been software--both proprietary & free--specialized to this task as well. It looks like Wizards is making a good effort towards taking it to the next level, though. While the virtual game table will certainly work well with D&D 4th edition, they've said that you'll be able to play other games with it as well, since it's really just tools, not a game itself. Let's assume that the average potential virtual game table group is five people. (Four players & one DM.) Let's assume that 10% of potential customers don't use Microsoft Windows. Then the odds that at least one person in a group doesn't use Windows is a bit over 34%. (Oops. My original calculation was based on four people per group. Five people per group raises it to nearly 41%.) The point is not the exact numbers. The point is that when your software product is targeted at groups instead of individuals, the benefits of cross-platform development are multiplied.

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