When video games look nearly identical to the real world, it's easy to brush aside old, simple games. But we shouldn't.
Microsoft Solitaire has been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame, joining several other classics, like Doom and World of Warcraft, as one of the iconic contributions to the world of gaming.
Of course, the more cynical among us wonder why a game that comes baked inside Windows should live as an honoree at The National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. After all, shouldn't the best games with the best stories or best designs earn such an award? How could a simple card game join the group?
A Little Perspective
The fact is, Microsoft Solitaire is as iconic a game as any other title in the hall of fame.
But it's about more than gaming
Once upon a time, not everyone was so ready to jump into technology. And in order to make folks feel at home, Microsoft needed to teach them how to use a mouse, click on items on the screen, and drag and drop.
Enter Microsoft Solitaire.
Yes, it was a game first, but Microsoft Solitaire was also a tool designed to get folks to learn how to use Windows. And it succeeded in its mission.
It's been translated into 65 languages and brought to 200 markets around the globe, and in a blog post last week, Microsoft said that Solitaire has been installed on more than a billion computers worldwide since its release in 1990. Few games, if any, can match that.
To put that in perspective, in today's gaming market, successful titles sell through 10 million units or maybe even 100 million units. Tetris, which is considered the best-selling video game of all time, has recorded 170 million sales globally.
We don't have Microsoft Solitaire sales figures because Microsoft always bundled the game with Windows. But it's impossible to ignore it as what might be one of the most-played games ever.
But Microsoft Solitaire is about more than its scale.
A New Path to Success
The game was one of the first casual computer games to enjoy mainstream success without the bells and whistles. There was no story, no sophisticated graphics. Instead, Microsoft Solitaire delivered a decidedly casual, fun experience with graphics that barely felt modern.
Perhaps there's something there that entrepreneurs -- especially those in the tech space that try too often to toss in the kitchen sink -- could learn from Microsoft Solitaire. What customers care about more than anything is quality and getting it right. And too often, entrepreneurs care too much about the bright lights without spending enough time on what the customer is actually experiencing.
After all, if a simple card game can have such an impact on Windows and the broader gaming community, why can't a similar focus on the user experience help your company?
So, let's not scoff at Microsoft Solitaire joining the World Video Game Hall of Fame. It's iconic. And for those of us who have sat in classrooms or offices on rainy Wednesdays wondering when the weekend would come, Microsoft Solitaire was always there, a trusted friend, just waiting for us to come calling.
Congratulations, old friend.