When Software Bugs Turn Into Features

IdeaA bug is typically a bad thing. Something is happening that wasn’t in the design. But sometimes, those bugs are pleasant surprises that make users happy and end up becoming full-fledged features. That’s the inspiration behind a recent Software Engineering Quora question, “What are the best examples of software bugs that became features?

So far the question has gathered nearly 30 responses, mostly regarding gaming bugs. Here’s a look at a few of the answers:

“In the original Space Invaders the level got faster as you killed more aliens. This was actually not by design but a by product of the graphics rendering being processor limited. As fewer elements were shown on screen the rendering got faster.” – Bowen Li

“I don’t know if you can really call it a bug, but JSONP was effectively a browser exploit that evolved into a standardized technique.” – Clarence Leung

“The MySpace customization (of the html and css) of profiles started off as a bug.” – Jake Alon

“Gravity Skating in the Tribes (Video Game). You can slide down hills and use the momentum to jump and fly around the level a bit.  It was left in after it was found to improve the gameplay and later added to subsequent games in the series as a major feature.” – Jason Stillwell

“In the original Crazy Taxi game you could make your car jump with a technique that involved changing between forward and reverse gears. A well practised player can use it to jump parts of the level and shorten their routes. From Crazy Taxi 2, it got its own button.” – Sean Thompson

“The question asks about “software” bugs — this one is a hardware/software “bug-turned-feature” — but, it’s my personal all-time-favorite. It is alleged (I worked with one of the guys on the project team so I believe the allegations) that the “Green Lightning” on an IBM 3278 graphics terminal was a hardware bug that was turned into a feature while writing the documentation — it “showed that the terminal was working on something” — much like the spinning hourglass or rainbow-wheel-of-death.” – Jim Kenyon

You can see all the answers at Quora >>>

What are some of your favorite bugs that eventually became features?


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  1. Julio Alejandro Tristan says

    The “Bunny jump” on counter strike is a perfect example! If you jump and then press the jump button before landing (near the floor) while move your mouse in Zig zag… your stamina never ends and you can do very long jumps one after another without wait!. This bug became very popular on counter strike servers. Several users designed new maps where you can practice this technique! leaving behind the original meaning of the game! (A first person shooter game became an arcade one :P)

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