Stardock

Stardock’s “really dumb” plan takes shape

By on March 30, 2012 3:40:01 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

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This week we met with the press and one of the topics that kept coming up over and over was just how much better Elemental: Fallen Enchantress looked and played versus 2010’s first attempt at a fantasy strategy game, Elemental: War of Magic. 

This begged the question – why would Stardock tie Fallen Enchantress to Elemental: War of Magic which was a pretty mediocre game.

This article on Gamasutra goes into some depth as to why we are pursuing this strategy.

Gamasutra:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/167416/Stardocks_really_dumb_plan_Make_a_sequel_to_a_mediocre_game.php

Related articles:

http://www.vg247.com/2012/03/30/stardock-elemental-sequel-to-make-up-for-mediocre-first-game/

http://www.strategyinformer.com/news/17332/stardock-giving-away-new-game-for-free---we-feel-we-owe-our-audience

If you’re in the beta:

Some of these articles are asking for feedback from beta testers. Feel free to give your impressions.  Beta 3 is coming soon, final game due this Fall.

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March 30, 2012 4:10:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Such a brilliant marketing strategy, sounds like something I would come up with.

 

Seriously though, one cannot quantify the effects of consumers having good will toward a company. This type of thing tends to not only garner good will but make you stand out in the sea of developers, many of which are controlled by huge publishers who tend to act as if gamers owed them something. (Entitled publishers if you will )

 

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March 30, 2012 4:35:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of this genre, but ultimately decided not to purchase E:WoM due to the reviews and comments posted by the gaming community at large. Based on what I have read and seen so far, Fallen Enchantress is truly shaping up to be the game that I had hoped E:WoM was going to be. My plan was to wait until development completed, reviews came out, and then reevaluate if this title deserved a purchase. Plans have changed. 

That Gamasutra article made me realize what Stardock and the FE development teams are trying to accomplish. I don't have to remind anyone that game companies have shifted to consumer-hostile business model - bit of flesh for a shiny bauble. Any game company that strives to maintain focus on what is important, the product and the customers, deserves the support of the community regardless of the intention.

I just preordered FE and am looking forward to the final product. I hope other lurkers like myself do the same.

Regards,

Tvaz 

 

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March 30, 2012 6:19:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tvazpolarvyn,

Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of this genre, but ultimately decided not to purchase E:WoM due to the reviews and comments posted by the gaming community at large. Based on what I have read and seen so far, Fallen Enchantress is truly shaping up to be the game that I had hoped E:WoM was going to be. My plan was to wait until development completed, reviews came out, and then reevaluate if this title deserved a purchase. Plans havechanged.                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                        

I just preordered FE and am looking forward to the final product. I hope other lurkers like myself do the same. 

Exactly the position I found myself in, back on January 25!  I had been a Stardock customer for 5 years, but hesitated for a long time to buy FE; notwithstanding that I routinely lurked in the forums, to see how things were progressing.  I am glad that I finally decided to pre-order, when I did.  Being able to play, provide opinions and feedback, and watch how FE is evolving, is  definitely  fun!

Welcome to our growing community of Beta-testers !!       

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March 30, 2012 7:14:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I really expected more trolls on these sights. The day is still early I guess. Trolls sleep in.

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March 30, 2012 7:46:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,
I really expected more trolls on these sights. The day is still early I guess. Trolls sleep in.

The trolls know Xia is back active on the forums so they are staying away...

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March 31, 2012 12:20:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I always wanted to play WoM; but didn't have the cash... picked it up sometime in 2011 for $19.99 and I "liked" that game but I never really got into it the way I thought I would. FE looks like it might have that "missing piece". Looking forward to it! Love Stardock, so this should be a good thing.

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March 31, 2012 2:02:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Ya know as much as I bitched, moaned, and complained about Elemental:War of Magic it does not compare to other bad releases lately. Sure it had bugs which caused constant crashes, but autosaving every turn kinda evened that out, just sucked reloading. Multiplayer was not available, big deal, marketing shows only 10%-30% of strategy gamers even use multiplayer for most strategy games. Even though it had major problems and crappy graphics you still wanted to play it. Through it all Stardock kept their chin up and took FULL responsibility for the games problems. I was one of those who got a refund without any hassle, even bought a new copy six months later.

However since then other companies have had bad releases of non-subscription games that make EWoM's problems seem trivial. If the game has a subscription you can expect quality control simply because it is the subscription, not the game sale sales that makes the money. You release a buggy subscrition game you wont have sunbscriptions the following month. without a subscription it seems most games release an unfinished product to "keep on schedule" with the "fix it later with a patch" attitude.

Stronghold 3 - A complete and utter disappointment. Hard to beleive the same company made the first two it was so bad. Somehow they "lost technology" when they made this version. Walls did not build properly you would have big gaps, the height advantage of walls and towers were gone. Who the hell wants to play a game about castles when the walls and towers dont work? Without working walls and towers it NEVER should have been released. Firefly made an attempt to be responsible, but the it was a futile gesture considering the wall and towers flaw. Forced Gamestop to give a refund for it after half dozen emails.

Heores of Might and Magic VI - I will never touch another Ubisoft product after this rip off. Impulse (Gamestop version) had bad version. My first two hours of owning it I spent in tech support forums trying to find a fix for the Nvidia card problem they had, who the hell makes a game incompatible with Nvidia cards? Dumbasses.  Then I ended up with a demo version despite paying full price. UbiSoft customer service was non-existant. I patiently waited a month for a patch, despite seeing multiple cases of the same problems in their forums. I asked Gamestop for a refund, they refused, claimed they needed UbiSofts permisison to give a refund. If they company couldnt be responsible enough to patch the game or answer support rquests, snowball;s chanc ein hell they going to answer an email regarding a refund. Gamestop refused a second time for a refund, I switched back to Steam with my game purchases. Went to my bank filed a dispute form with Mastercard and forced a refund.

Final Fantasy XIV - I did not experience it myself but I read about it. Square Enix lost years on their bad release. It took almost a year to release a new version for the PC, and will be like another year before console versions come out. however they took some responsibility and waived subscriptions until it was fixed.

Star Wars The Old republic - $60 for a NON-collectors edition subscription game. Um, go @#$% yourself. Maybe if it was  a collectors edition I could see tha tprice. I refuse to pay that much for a basic version of a game that requires a subscription considering the average going rate is about $30-40 (unless you are Trion with the $5 Rift.) That price of $60 says they have no confidence in the games success so they going to gouge as much as possible from the loyals fans. Less than two months later I have already seen "specials" for about $40.

At any rate from what I have played of the unfinished FE beta the stability is a little bit less than equal of EWoM is currently. The gameplay has been streamlined and has improved. Kinda disappointed to see the dynasties go though. Even it its current unfinished state it is still more of a working game than the first two examples.

Keep up the good work and I hope you will not have to take responsibility for another bad release. I doubt you will have to. I think you learned your lesson from the last one.

 

 

 

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March 31, 2012 2:45:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

While "once great" companies like Bioware are steadily going down in the blind pursuit of quick money, Stardock can only go up from this, and it will. 

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March 31, 2012 4:10:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I bought Elemental because I believed in Stardock. Brad Wardell has not let me down, and he's not going to give us up. He is never going to tell a lie or hurt you.

*sigh* Rickrolling myself here...

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March 31, 2012 4:57:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I for one am going to buy a copy for my friend since I get it for free. See, your customers can be dumber than you! 

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March 31, 2012 4:59:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brad is my personal savior.

 

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March 31, 2012 6:00:13 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree its a very smart strategy. I bought all GalCiv versions before, and pre-ordered WoM. Then when it wasn't up to expectation, you give me FE for free. I'm beta testing, and really like playing the beta already.

So for other games you're going to release in future, I won't worry about the quality and will pre-order again, because I know if the quality isn't good enough, you'll make sure I eventually get a good product.

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March 31, 2012 7:36:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy may be king of the stupid (trademark), but us stupidfolks will be having a blast with FE. Its really going in a direction I like.

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March 31, 2012 6:57:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hm. It looks like everyone's talking about the narrative of the strategy, and not the game itself. That's fine I suppose, there's plenty of time to talk about the game later, and the strategy is a very positive note to start this off on. However it's important that discussion of the game itself actually does occur before too long.

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March 31, 2012 7:11:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I liked one the of the comments the first article said.

 

Stardock does well because its fans (including me) trust it implicitly. My trust faltered after I pre-ordered WOM's special edition, and the game was not what I expected, and I'll admit some doubt still remains in my mind. But that trust will be restored if FE delivers. I buy Stardock games because they make me feel good about myself. I'm supporting a small-name developer that believes in making quality over profit, and whose CEO likes the games he makes, and posts on the forum about them. Hence, I bought Stardock games full-price (not waiting for price drops), and I even preordered WOM.

 

Stardock makes niche games that are refreshing to us gamers, tired of the mass-market FPS's that are oh-so-common today. Considering Stardock will retain customers for a decade due to this decision, giving away a free game is minor.

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April 1, 2012 11:24:35 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Why not "Stardock's plan to give you cancer?"  Clearly these fellas need to do a little more research and think of an appropriate title. 

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April 2, 2012 1:59:20 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I don't have any issues with Elemental. I Pre-Ordered it and enjoyed it from the start. It had a few issues (Like Crashing) and the AI needed some work, but the game was always fun. It's current rev. is a good game. 18 years ago I was going through the same issues with "Master of Magic", The AI was terrible, it kept crashing, and patches needed to be ordered by mail, but the game was ambitious and fun. I look forward to FE and thank the developers for tackling this difficult genre.

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April 2, 2012 2:53:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cruxador,
Hm. It looks like everyone's talking about the narrative of the strategy, and not the game itself. That's fine I suppose, there's plenty of time to talk about the game later, and the strategy is a very positive note to start this off on. However it's important that discussion of the game itself actually does occur before too long.

The discussions should remain separated. I may have a few issues still with the game (in its current state at least) but what Stardock is doing on a commercial level is glorious and players should talk about it. Seriously, just take a look around. More and more developers are going the opposite road, releasing blatantly unfinished games, with less and less content and less and less value, and they seem all pretty "casual" about that.

They spend more effort trying to prevent you from buying an used game than they do trying to make a game that is WORTH paying full price for.

Stardock dropped the ball heavily with WoM but when FE is released they'll have piled TWO YEARS of additional development with no additional charge for first buyers. I'm pretty sure this is unprecedented stuff.

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April 2, 2012 3:19:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mastroego,

Quoting Cruxador, reply 14Hm. It looks like everyone's talking about the narrative of the strategy, and not the game itself. That's fine I suppose, there's plenty of time to talk about the game later, and the strategy is a very positive note to start this off on. However it's important that discussion of the game itself actually does occur before too long.

The discussions should remain separated. I may have a few issues still with the game (in its current state at least) but what Stardock is doing on a commercial level is glorious and players should talk about it. Seriously, just take a look around. More and more developers are going the opposite road, releasing blatantly unfinished games, with less and less content and less and less value, and they seem all pretty "casual" about that.

They spend more effort trying to prevent you from buying an used game than they do trying to make a game that is WORTH paying full price for.

Stardock dropped the ball heavily with WoM but when FE is released they'll have piled TWO YEARS of additional development with no additional charge for first buyers. I'm pretty sure this is unprecedented stuff.

This.

 

Lets look at other companies reputations and what they do with it. hE who should not be nAmed ruins their reputation.. so what do they do to fix it? They buy out a studio who has a good rep with people.. and rename all their studios after it. Not long after said purchase.. the studio that once was worshiped is quickly losing its consumer goodwill and will continue to.. not necessarily in direct relation to the actual developers actions but most likely constraints put on them by the now parent Publisher.

Or lets look at steam.. (Disclosure: I can't stand steam but thats not the point here)

Part of the reason Steam is what it is , is that a lot of people have enormous goodwill toward valve. A great example is that origin is no different really than steam as far as the TOS and EULA. Yet many people who willingly accepted Valves conditions are much less likely to accept origins due to the consumer view on the company who runs it. Now personally neither company has enough of my trust for me to agree to the crazy TOS. But many people feel that Valve is a good guy.. while those who run origin are not. So one can pretty much expect that while Origin may do okay.. it certainly has no chance of competing with steam in the long term. Less because of the actual service and more because of consumers general sentiment toward each services parent company.

 

Stardock spent alot of its goodwill in the Sale of Impulse and the release of EWOM. It certainly needed to do something to bolster consumer sentiment given that smaller companies live and die on it. While large companies can afford to give consumers the middle finger and continually do, that particular attitude serves to accentuate any consumer centric move by any company in the industry. I mean lets be honest here.. if stardock was owned by hE who should not be nAmed we woulda had 5 or 10 DLC packs for E:WOM and then it would have been buried or the patches would have been sold as Expansions given the amount of core changes there were in them, the devs split up and sent to other studios and/or fired and stardock would be renamed Bioware Michigan.

 

TLDR: The gaming industry is going in a direction that alienates consumers and any move opposite of that accentuates a difference between stardock and larger companies.

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April 2, 2012 10:20:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Agreed entirely.

It feels to me like the big guys (and EA are a prime example) are trying so hard to squeeze profits out at all costs, with short release cycles and incessant DLC amongst other things, that they are continually causing long term damage to their company image and reputation which ultimately DOES have an effect on sales, even if it isn't enough to drive them out of business (so far anyway - hard to know the future).

Stardock haven't always got it right, in fact with WoM my feeling was they got it about as seriously wrong as they could have (for Stardock - perhaps an EA could have done even worse ) but the underlying feeling is that they do really care about the relationship with the customer.

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April 3, 2012 9:42:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Alfdaur,
I bought Elemental because I believed in Stardock. Brad Wardell has not let me down, and he's not going to give us up. He is never going to tell a lie or hurt you.

*sigh* Rickrolling myself here...

 

Me too.  I was fully aware that there were issues at the time that I bought it.  I have absolutely no regrets.

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April 16, 2012 2:22:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Mistwraithe,
It feels to me like the big guys (and EA are a prime example) are trying so hard to squeeze profits out at all costs, with short release cycles and incessant DLC amongst other things, that they are continually causing long term damage to their company image and reputation which ultimately DOES have an effect on sales, even if it isn't enough to drive them out of business (so far anyway - hard to know the future).

 

This.  The assumption is based (so I've been told by one developer, who may nor may not be correct) on a political model: You can damage your brand as much as you like, as long as you have a emotional button to use on those who've bought into your product.  In game marketing terms, you can run a brand into the ground, or issue products under the brand that have nothing to do with the original, as long as you can convince your audience they have nowhere else to go.  However, you always run the risk of alienating players completely, just as EA's founder, Trip Hawkins, did when he bought and ran New World Computing's intellectual assets into the ground, thinking a cash cow would produce indefinitely for his 3DO outfit even after it's been completely abused.  He was wrong.

 

It seems to me (and for what little my opinion's worth) that the tack being employed by Stardock portraying FE as a "WoM remade correctly" will really bear fruit with its niche audience and at least a few better game site writers.  Where memory exists, you show you won't break faith.  In a broader general market, with a lot of fly-buy purchasers, this wouldn't really matter anywhere near as much, not when the audience follows the latest, greatest PR.  But Stardock's arguably not aiming its games at that group, and I think their choices in this respect are correct.  FE will sell based on its own merit, but it will also reinforce the argument that  they're not above repairing what they acknowledge to be flaws in an earlier release.


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September 9, 2012 5:21:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have said before that most games these days are a 3 chapter book with each other chapter sold separately, and self destructs if you ever don't agree to new terms no matter what - the book just burns itself to ashes in your hands.  Also, the book knows when you read it, how often you read it, and reports to the author every activity you do, it follows you around and gets angry when you read other books.  Orwellian policies are common, and requiring constant internet renders a game unplayable in bad weather situations, or for many other reasons i might not have internet.

The one thing i hold against Stardock is requiring constant internet connection, knowing if my net ever fails me or if i am without it, this product becomes unusable immediately.  I find it disturbing, actually.

However, i am glad Stardock is affiliating FE with WOM because everyone on the internet will figure out the relation within one google search anyway, so hiding from the past doesn't work.  Instead they are admitting a fatally bad release, which is very uncommon in this industry - ethical practices are rare these days, and by this association they gain the credibility of standing by "what they did" rather than "standing behind our successes, ignoring our failures".

This method, i believe will help garner brand loyalty - and it didn't hurt to bring in Derek Paxton from FFH - that correlation alone for example, was enough to get me in.

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September 9, 2012 6:24:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting thadianaphena,
The one thing i hold against Stardock is requiring constant internet connection, knowing if my net ever fails me or if i am without it, this product becomes unusable immediately. I find it disturbing, actually.

This is typical of Stardock, but only during beta periods. Once the game goes live, that restriction is removed.

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September 9, 2012 6:54:06 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Like Galactic Civilizations, Fallen Enchantress won't have any copy protection whatsoever on release.

All we'll have is a serial number so that it can get tied to your account so that you can re-download it from us anywhere any time.

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