Whether we’re talking about online video games or physical products, check out this list of companies that turned a supposed glitch into a successful feature instead.
Source list available at the end.
Hormonal birth control was having a hard time in the beginning when its marketing was being described as “birth control.” So, it was marketed as a way to control menstrual cycles instead. The fact that women couldn’t get pregnant while they were on the pill was labelled as a “side effect.”
One of the software developers at a company I used to work for would display fail gifs whenever the app produced an error on an internal application. After each new deployment, the employees who used the software would try all kinds of things to break the software just to see the new hilarious fail gif.
In the original Wing Commander game, the programmer who made the “Quit Game” button made it so that it would cause a crash when pressed, instead of, shutting down the game naturally. Rather than fixing it, he changed the crash text to say: “Thank you for playing Wing Commander!” and just left it like that.
One of the Toyota models a few years back had a unique geometry that caused specific patterns of turbulent flow just behind the sideview mirrors that were annoying if you wanted to drive with the windows open, but if you drove with them closed, the turbulent air would blow off any snow or water. If I recall correctly, “self-clearing mirrors” was actually a sales point when I was looking at cars.
During university, a group I was in made a game where each consecutive jump would be shorter than the last because the guy programming it didn’t do it very well.
The student teacher tried to say, “It’s a fatigue feature!” and I was like, “Screw that.”
Supposedly, Post-It Notes were created by a guy who was trying to invent a really strong glue. The glue he made was really weak, so he just put it on some papers and stuck them on the wall to write on. Someone thought it was really cool, and they marketed it.
In short, Post-It Notes glue was supposed to be super strong, but it ended up on paper.
The used car salesman who sold my dad our family’s first minivan told him that the car drifted to the right as a “safety feature” to keep the driver from falling asleep and drifting into oncoming traffic. Yeah, my dad made him fix that before we could buying it.
I programmed “Breakout,” which is a pretty low level game to be teaching to programming students. Anyway, for whatever reason, sometimes a collision would be detected and the block the ball hit would break, but at the same time, so would another random brick somewhere else in the game area. I never figured out why it was happening, so I just called it “You got a bonus hit!”
In Borderlands 2, there was this legendary energy shield called “The Sham.” It gave you the ability to absorb almost all of the projectiles that hit you, negating all of the damages that you would’ve received, and adding that ammo into your reserves.
Now, ammo varied in rarity in the world of Borderlands. For instance, you could hold up to 900 pistol bullets and find pistol bullets everywhere, but you could only hold around 30 rockets, and you almost never saw any of them.
Enter “Logan’s Gun.” This was a legendary pistol that did damage. It dealt splash in a small area and consumed pistol bullets. However, the fired projectiles technically counted as tiny rockets. So, when you equipped The Sham shield and fired Logan’s Gun at your feet, The Sham would absorb the damage and ammo from the splash, and the rockets were added to your inventory. Since pistol bullets were so common in the game, it essentially gave you unlimited rocket launcher ammo.
Grand Theft Auto is basically the result of this. Originally, the game was supposed to be a racing game. Police vehicles would also chase you through the levels. However, due to a bug in the AI controller, the police started targeting the player vehicles (instead of just being near them) and started crashing into them as well. Developers and testers found this to be more fun, and the crime-based game was created around it.
I bought an HDMI splitter. It was not because I wanted to split my signal at all – but because it scrambled the HDCP protection when I was trying to record my gameplay footage. Because of this splitter (that I was not splitting anything with), I could capture PS4 and PS T.V footage.
In Dwarf Fortress, the fish (Carp) were meant to be able to attack the dwarves if they were swimming in the river, but they were bugged and were able to kill dwarves outside of the rivers. They also did it quickly, due to their absurdly high damage and reasonable amount of health- essentially, becoming a death trap. The creator thought this was amusing and made it a permanent feature.
Viagra was originally developed as a treatment option for high blood pressure. The guys in the clinical test group started taking note of the drug’s unintentional, but very noticeable side effects.
My bank has pop-up advertisements when I log in. When I asked them to get rid of them, the bank basically told me that “they were not pop-up advertisements, but important messages to their valued customers.”
Back in the day in Socom 3, it was really easy to glitch through walls and structures on the map. It became really common to see lobbies where nobody was killing each other – instead, you would just explore the map together.
In Smite, Thor had an attack where he could hit the ground with his hammer and a rift wall/line thing would come up that could block people and, temporarily, stun those who were directly hit by it.
However, if you hit an enemy God directly in the middle then they could glitch in and out of your wall, stunning a little bit longer than normal, and confusing players.
Hi-Rez tried to fix it, but they essentially said, “Eh, Leave it. The reprogramming would be too difficult.”
In Borderlands 2, my main was the Mechromancer. However, shortly after it was released, people started noticing that it would use a healing beam on the enemies rather than the players. I remember seeing patch notes for it, and they were along the lines of: “We noticed this bug, but we we aren’t fixing it because it’s hilarious.”
Pizza Hut. They let you complete a survey after an online order or get a $10-off coupon on a minimum order of $20. Unfortunately, you can get stuck in an infinite loop of ordering the $20 dinner box at 50% off. You can literally kill yourself with pizza for just $10/week.
The Raspberry Pi 2 had an underside of processor exposed to the carrier PCB that it was mounted to. Normally, this was not an issue. However, if you flashed the board with a strong flash then it would reboot the system.
The solution was to turn it into a teaching opportunity.
The Corrupted Blood incident was a bug in World of Warcraft that allowed a contagious debuff from an raid boss to affect players outside of his dungeon. It spread and quickly infected whole servers for a week. This was despite quarantine zones, and the players actively avoiding infection. The CDC used the incident as a way to study real -world epidemics.
Using “hops” in beer. It was originally an alternative ingredient that was used as a preservative, but it caught on with certain people due to its unique bitterness.
When I was in high school (back in the 90’s), my dad had a red European Sedan that I liked to drive a wee-bit enthusiastically. One knock on the car’s automatic transmission that was mentioned in some reviews was on the lurching way that it downshifted when slowing down.
In actuality, this was great because it would almost instantly drop the speed from like 35-40 to 25 once it downshifted, which was a great way to quickly slow down to match the speed limit without having to slam on the brakes/activating the brake light when you noticed a speed trap. It didn’t save me from all of the tickets, but I certainly could’ve had a few more.
In Space Invaders, the aliens were originally meant to go at a constant speed, but the processor was too slow. When an alien died, it freed up resources and they went faster. People playing the game liked this mechanism so they kept it.
The Mazda RX8 is riddled with hidden rotary’s from body panels to the shift knob, but its coolest feature was discovered by accident. After reviewing footage from when the brakes were applied, the three lights actually made a rotary symbol on the ground for the driver behind you.
Posts are edited for clarity.