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Stardock blames and sues marketer for  Elemental 's poor launch

Stardock blames and sues marketer for Elemental's poor launch

August 15, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Stardock is placing the blame for Elemental: War of Magic disappointing launch on a former employee who allegedly destroyed marketing materials, and impaired the game's quality as a result.

The Michigan-based developer is suing its ex-marketing manager Alexandra Miseta for more than $1 million over damages from Elemental's launch in 2010. She worked at the company for four years, and purportedly quit Stardock without notice just before the game shipped.

Documents filed with a Michigan Eastern District Court last month claim that when Miseta resigned, she deleted, destroyed, and/or stole promotional materials, analytics data, and trade show information that was vital to supporting Elemental's launch. Stardock also accuses her of refusing to return her company laptop, and running side businesses during work hours.

The company says her actions not only made it impossible for the developer to complete crucial marketing efforts, but also forced it to commit resources to re-creating the missing materials -- resources that could have been devoted to programming, debugging, and polishing Elemental.

Elemental was panned by critics when it released due to its bugs, clunky user interface, and other issues, with some calling it an unfinished game. Its average review score on Metacritic is only 53 percent, a low ranking for a company known for releasing acclaimed strategy titles like the Galactic Civilizations series.

Not long after the game's launch, CEO Brad Wardell attributed Elemental's problems to the team's QA process, as well as to "[his] own catastrophic poor judgment in not objectively evaluating the core game play components." He made no mention of Miseta, who now works at advertising agency Fleishman-Hillard, at the time.

Stardock eventually laid off a number of employees for the first time in twelve years due to the game's issues. Though Elemental made its money back immediately after release, Wardell said Stardock would end up eventually losing money from the project in order to fix the game and its relationship with consumers.

The company's claims against Miseta include violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Common Law Conversion, Statutory Conversion, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, and Breach of Contract. Along with seeking more than $1 million in damages, Stardock is asking for interest, costs, and attorney fees.

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