What people are upset about Brad is you sold Impulse to Satan.
I thought Steamworks was the Great Satan around here?
This move seems to be at such odds to much of what CEO Brad Wardell has been telling us, that it makes more sense to me as a prank.
He's also an owner of a business, and has to do what's best for the business. I thought his reasons were laid out pretty well, and fundamentally Impulse was getting too large for Stardock to remain primarily a software company.
Brad has talked at length about how retailers exert to much power over game releases, and how this power has a detrimental affect on the quality and availability of our games. He's blamed restrictive retailers for everything from the shrinking of game manuals and rushed release dates, to the homogenization of our games and the potential death of the middle market. He says that retailer reluctance to sell non-mainstream games restricts game diversity and limits developer opportunity. He says this threatens the continued existence of fringe markets such as old school TBS. And he blames the retail market for mucking with dev cycles thereby reducing quality assurance and more. He names that reason as being one of his chief motivations for releasing Fallen Enchantress as a digital download only. He has spoken of these things before crowds of fellow developers and producers. He's made press releases and given interviews. He's come before the fans and preached about how his company was fighting the good fight and was looking after our gaming interests. He put himself into a messiah like role in regards to gamers rights. He went so far as to author a PC Gamers Bill of Rights. I took him on his word for these matters because I looked at his companies past and found adequate assurance that his spoken convictions likely held truth. I still believe that. So I felt this just had to be a prank because Gamestops history is so strikingly at odds with Stardocks.
C'mon now... Brad said all those things about the negative impact that the retail industry has on the gaming industry; but then goes and sells our sole safe haven ESD platform to the self proclaimed "world’s largest video game and entertainment software retailer." !?! And not just any retailer, but one which is infamous for ultra PC restrictive practices. A retailer specializing on video games, while marginalizing PC games!? A company who restricts their limited sale of PC games to only that which is the_Most profitable?. More power to them; this is their choice as it was mine to stop bartering PS2 games with them. But this business practice runs opposite to that which Brad Wardell has so voraciously proclaimed his own to be.
Manuals were actually the fault of Walmart. Release dates in the game industry (speaking from a close friend who works in the industry) are almost never realistic and are made by the marketing department. Retail only inflates that problem because everybody wants their game out at Christmas and there's limited shelf space, so you get a window and can't deviate from it. Being that they have limited shelf space and that shipping and stocking product is expensive, retail doesn't want to stock low volume items.
This is hardly the only industry that faces problems like that. That's not Gamestop being evil, that's Gamestop not wanting to be on the hook for 50,000 boxes of something they can't sell and that just sit in a warehouse. If my choices are to stock Call of Duty or to stock say Gemini Wars... well I like making money, so this is a fairly easy decision (unless I'm running a specialty store, but that's very hard to do these days for PC games due to Steam).
As for FE as a digital download only... well lets be honest here. A ton of people getting FE won't be paying for it. Where is the market for a boxed version? It's the right call for a number of reasons, including much lower costs and the ability to release "when it's ready" which is very important for this release. None of the reasons are "retail is evil".
(I snipped the used game discussion simply because I feel it's another entire thread and don't want to drag this one off topic.)
I don't know what, if any, steps Brad may or may not have taken to ensure that this decision is in keeping with his publicly asserted convictions. I don't know what, if any, handshake promises or contractual obligations that Gamestop may or may not have made to assure that Impulse would carry on as it has in the past. Who knows what happened behind those closed doors or what motivates the decision makers. All I know of a certainty is that Gamestop has historically taken actions, and followed a business model that appears to me to be at such extreme odds with Brads good fight preaching, that I felt it must have been an April Fools prank. To think otherwise, would be to ponder if Stardock has preyed upon gamers misgivings towards a gaming industry run down by ultra-restrictive retailers, non-gamer profit blinded shareholders, and DRM + DLC crazed publishers. As well I would have to wonder if Brads Gamers R Us crusade was nothing more than a device for a small game studio to garner customer loyalty for the purpose of increased sales. I find that hard to believe. I find it easier to believe that this has all been a prank. If it is not a prank I will pack my bags and jump off this Stardockian bandwagon for they do business with the shareholders devil. I won't give Gamestop the benefit of the doubt by blindly trusting that all will be well. I've already been ripped off for a couple hundred dollars worth of product by two one-time major players in the audio digital distribution market. I've learned my lesson and don't trust blind. I have researched Gamestops past and found them to be exceedingly untrustworthy. steam, the ESD giant; standing next to gamestoppers, appears angelic in comparison. I gave up my love of the Civ franchise over the bundling of steam. No other game held my interest as Civ once did. Laying E:WOM to rest and never knowing E:FE is a bit easier, though still a bit unpleasent.
For Impulse to be of real value to Gamestop in the long term, it has to compete with Steam. If Gamestop actively works to make it worse then Steam... well then we've got Steam. Gamestop has done things in the past in some cases because of economics, and in other cases simply because as a major player they could. They're not a dominant player in this market at all.