The computer game that should have made billions

It is not at all unusual for video games to make tens or even hundreds of millions of US Dollars in profit. There is a minority of monstrously profitable games and genres that generate up to around ten billion US dollars. These profits go the publishers of the games mainly.

There is a game that should have earned perhaps tens of billions of Dollars. A game that virtually everyone who has used a computer has played, Solitaire.

Solitaire was created by an intern – Wes Cherry, who is a computer game programmer. He wrote the game in 1988 while working as an intern at Microsoft. Amazingly he wasn’t tasked with writing it but did so as a side project of his own. Wes wrote Solitaire out of boredom. In the early days of Microsoft, there were games included so he decided to make one to keeps things interesting. Officially Microsoft at the time said that Solitaire was there to teach people how to use the mouse.

Something we take for granted in this age of technology, but for many adults suddenly needing to use a cursor and getting used to mouse sensitivity proved a real challenge. The truth though is it was only meant to provide fun. When Bill Gates commented on Solitaire at the time his chief complaint was that the difficulty was too high. That to win and get the cards cascading at the end in an awesome graphical display for the time would be too difficult for most people. It is difficult to say just how many hours in total people have collectively spent on Solitaire.

Wes Cherry at one point in the game’s development added a special key function which he termed the ‘boss key’ which would pull up an image of a spreadsheet over the game. This was because it was being played primarily at work and was supposed to be used if the boss came walking by. However, Microsoft soon forced him to remove it.

Even if he only got one cent per game he could have made over 100 billion Dollars easily.