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Stardock's Wardell:  Elemental  Will 'End Up Losing Money'
Stardock's Wardell: Elemental Will 'End Up Losing Money'
January 10, 2011 | By Kris Graft

January 10, 2011 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

Stardock's latest strategy game, Elemental: War of Magic, will end up losing money in the long run, despite breaking even on pre-orders prior to its August 2010 launch, studio CEO Brad Wardell told Gamasutra over the weekend.

"Elemental made its money back on day one and has continued to be profitable to this point," he said in an email.

"However, based on our projections we anticipate by the end of second quarter 2011 that Elemental will end up losing money overall as our objective is to spend what is necessary to ensure that the game meets the expectations of our customers," he added.

When Stardock's Elemental: War of Magic launched last year, it was met with serious criticism from the games press, which noted substantial bugs and issues with the strategy game.

In order to fix the game, and in effect its relationship with consumers, the studio vowed to correct the issues. Stardock released a patch shortly after Elemental's launch that addressed complaints.

The independent Michigan-based publisher is known for also developing the Galactic Civilizations franchise and publishing externally-developed games like Gas Powered Games' Demigod and Ironclad's Sins of a Solar Empire.

The CEO didn't offer unit sales figures for Elemental, but the studio, which also sells business software and Windows themes, isn't one to spend tens of millions of dollars on game development, so the break-even point comes at a much lower unit sales mark than high-budget releases.

"While this short-term loss is unfortunate, it is crucial in the long term that PC gamers know that the Stardock name means quality and support," Wardell said.

The studio recently hired former Civilization V lead designer Jon Shafer, who will work on further development of Elemental.

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Thomas Lo
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They should have simply delayed the game. A game that basically requires that an online community reach critical mass and be maintained cannot stand a bad launch (look at all the failed MMO's that became quite good after patching but still had to shut down because the launch game was so bad, everybody left).

Micah Betts
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After the debacle of Demigod's launch you'd think they would have learned their lesson.

Stardock has only earned a reputation of horrible broken releases and post-release support, when the online community inevitably fades away due to release-day bugs, even if the game eventually becomes playable it will be useless.

Dave Sodee
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Easier to make it right before releasing it then trying to fix it after. Consumers are tired of shoddy products with a promise to make it right later. It is a losing relationship at that point. Yes, it should be fixed and more resources spent to fix it are required. But the consumer expects a working bug free product or as close to that as possible.

The best situation is simply to not release untested or undertested games and software. High value high polished games sell and make money. Shoddy games that need fixing fail fast even if the end product is a good one. Most people have already passed on it and do not give it a second look.

Dave Sodee
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Sad, I commended Brad and his company for Galactic Civ 2 and want to support his company for his stance on drm. But producing low quality titles will kill Stardock as a game company even if that is only a small part of what they do.

I own Gal Civ 2 and Sins and are happy with those products. It doesn't have to have glitz just good fun solid gameplay with something new would be nice.

J Spartan
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I was always going to buy this game around feb/march 2011. Having followed it's development it always seemed that should have been the release date. As it is it is currently improving all the time, and maybe in the end it will live up to some of it's hyped MoM goodness. I guess the newly initiated to 'never buy a game on release day' crowd will always be sore, but hopefully they will grow a little wiser?

andrew easter
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Well Brad said it wasnt a case of delaying the game, but that he had not realised how broken the game was when it went gold.

His massive drama cleansing thread set the apology and outline for the future.

Carl Chavez
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And from a different perspective: they probably wouldn't be on track to lose money if they hadn't rehired most of the previously laid-off people. That implies they are planning to make money after Q2 2011 with either expansions and/or a new project.

Jose Resines
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Stardock lost more than money with Elemental. They lost a ton of credibility, and that's hard to regain.

The fact that the creators of the Gamer Bill of Rights released a clearly incomplete game didn't help either.

Here's hoping they can rebound and go back to their old ways, even if they lose money with this one. They're still part of the good guys.

Michael Wenk
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I think its good to see them own up. It will be better to see them do what they say they're going to do, and it will be best for them to learn from their mistakes.