I think it's a good idea for anyone in the software business to try to predict the thing that's going to bankrupt them. Of course, that's a good practice in any field, but it's especially important with computer stuff, since the industry moves so fast.
So what will put Spiderweb Software out of business? Or deal us a serious blow, one that won't kill us alone but, in combination with other hits, could knock us down for the count?
The Destruction of the Internet - The Internet was not made to be this mega-global network used by everybody. As time goes on, more flaws show. When e-mail was new and exciting, we didn't see what a horrible mess spam would make of it. Maybe a series of viruses or other new hacker trickery might make the network unusable. And then I am screwed.
Likelihood - Very, very low. It's hard to imagine a hacker trick that could defeat everyone else on the Net. But it is very helpful to remember that the health of my business is inextricably tied with that of the Internet.
The Internet Being Remade By All-Powerful Corporate Interests - They're working on Internet 2.0. Maybe they will make it, and it will take over and only let giant businesses with tons of money function on it. Or Internet Explorer will decide to stop working with all websites and mine won't make the cut, or Windows will stop running demos not specifically cleared by Microsoft and I won't make the cut, or ... or ...
Likelihood - Sorry. I can't stay to answer that. I have to go make my new tinfoil hat.
I know, this stuff sounds crazy. But, years ago, when someone downloaded a demo of my games, Internet Explorer didn't try to scare them into not running it. Now it does. And I am not the only one who worries about these sorts of issues. It's very important to look at the programs your business absolutely needs to function and consider how they could be used to cut off your air supply.
Banzai Lawsuit From Hell! - Someone's son goes crazy and shoots up his school. The parents find a bunch of computer games on the kid's system, one of which is mine. They start suing, and I get caught up in it. From there, there's all kinds of ways for things to go real bad.
Likelihood - I want to think it's low, but ... Liability insurance for computer game makers is CRAZY expensive right now. I pay a LOT. When insurance companies are scared of taking your money, don't get too cocky.
People Stop Playing Games On the PC - The PC game industry has seen hard times in the last decade. If you aren't making money through monthly subscriptions, the world doesn't look pretty. You could probably be making a lot more money developing for consoles.
Look at it this way. I used to play tons of PC games. Now I play console games almost exclusively. You see, I can play console games on my couch, upstairs, where it's nice and warm. To play PC games, I have to be down in the basement with the cold and the spiders. And when you look at the sort of product you create and go, "Well, yeah, I don't really like that sort of thing anymore," it's time for a reality check. Now.
PC single-player gaming is dwindling. Maybe it'll dwindle too much.
Likelihood - I wonder. If this happens, it'll take quite a while, but the trend with PC gaming is unmistakable. But hey, I'll be one of the last people left writing PC games, so there'll be no competition and I'll make tons of money, amirite?
The Macintosh Dies - People have been predicting this for years and years. And the Mac is half my business. If it goes away, I probably will too.
Likelihood - Once high. Now low. Whatever I might think of Steve Jobs, his revitalization of the Macintosh brand has been crazy good for my business.
Hmmm ... This game is kind of fun. I think I will continue the litany of impending doom next week. Some of the threats get mighty plausible.
And this is a game you can play along with at home. What do YOU think will put me out of business? Tell me in the comments.