Stardock Reveals The 'Stardock Staffing Company'

December 5, 2013 - GamePolitics Staff

Gamasutra has the exclusive scoop on the Stardock Staffing Company, a new unit put together by Galactic Civilizations developer Stardock. Thaw company announced earlier this year that it had put together a multi-million dollar fund called the Stardock Investment Fund, with the goal of using it to invest in "promising, small companies."

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Stardock Lawsuits Settled With an Apology

September 24, 2013 - Andrew Eisen

Two lawsuits between game developer Stardock Systems and former employee Alexandra Miseta have been dismissed.

The first lawsuit, filed by Miseta against Stardock CEO Brad Wardell in December of 2010, alleged sexual harassment and a "hostile work environment."

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Report: Stardock Sued Former Marketing Manager After She Sued CEO for Sexual Harassment

September 6, 2012 -

In a follow-up to a story about Stardock suing its former marketing manager Alexandra Miseta, Kotaku reveals that Stardock had other legal actions pending with her. Their report contends that Stardock filed a lawsuit against her only after she filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that she was sexually harassed.

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Rebellion sues Stardock and Ironclad over Latest Sins of a Solar Empire Game

August 17, 2012 -

Hot on the heels of yesterday's story that Stardock was suing its ex-marketing manager over Elemental: War of Magic, we learn that the company is now the target of another lawsuit involving a UK developer.

4 comments | Read more

The Political Machine 2012 Released

July 31, 2012 -

Stardock Software has released the 2012 edition of The Political Machine. Political Machine 2012 is a strategy games that lets players choose their favorite past and present political candidates in a bid to win the most prized position in U.S. politics: the presidency of the United States. Players can choose to play as President Barack Obama, Republican presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, or former Republican primary candidates Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich. If you think all those choices are horrible you can create your own candidate from scratch.

GamersGate: 'We're Not Afraid of Steam'

February 8, 2011 -

GamersGate CEO Theo Bergquist wants the world to know that his company is not afraid of digital distribution giant Steam. In an interview with Industry Gamers, Bergquist said that Steam has hit "peak numbers" and that - at this point - it can only "lose market share." The European-centric digital distribution channel saw sales rise by 72 percent during the holiday shopping season.

"To be honest, we're not afraid of Steam," said Bergquist. "We think they are peaking now while the market is still very hardcore. In fact, we know from the feedback we receive from customers, one of the reasons we have such great growth is because many gamers out there don't like Steam and see GamersGate as a better alternative."

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Stardock: Elemental Will Lose Money

January 10, 2011 -

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell says that the company's strategy RPG Elemental: War of Magic will end up costing the company money in the long run. This will happen, the company says, despite the fact that the game managed to break even on pre-orders.

"Elemental made its money back on day one and has continued to be profitable to this point," Wardell told Gamasutra 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."

Wardell did not disclose how many units the game has sold to date or how much money the company made off initial sales. While the company will lose money on the game, Wardell sees it as an investment in its PC customer base, who were very dissatisfied with the launch of Elemental.

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CIV V Lead Joins Stardock

January 5, 2011 -

According to a report on Big Download, former Civilization V lead designer Jon Shafer and science fiction writer Dave Stern have joined Stardock to work on Elemental: War of Magic.

Shafer, who recently left Firaxis, will eventually oversee his own development team. For the time being though, he will be focusing on the continued development of Stardock's current flagship title Elemental - including the development of the two upcoming expansion packs.

Source: Big Download via Blue's News

2 comments

A September to Remember for Three Indie Games

October 1, 2010 -

September proved to be a good month for three independent game developers: Zeboyd Games, Carpefulgur, and Mojang. Let us start with the elephant in the room that is Minecraft. It has been widely reported that the developer of Minecraft, Markus 'Notch' Persson, has made $3,787,748 off his game to date - and it is only in alpha! The game is DRM-free, and Persson does not care all that much about piracy. Obviously, that position has not hurt sales.

Persson has reportedly had job offers from Bungie and Valve (he declined) and is now focusing on opening up his own development studio. Here's what Persson told GI.biz:

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Stardock CEO Apologizes for Public Outburst

August 25, 2010 -

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell took to the official Elemental: War of Magic developer journal to make a public apology to journalist Ben Sones, and other posters in an all-purpose thread dedicated to Stardock’s latest game over at Quarter To Three. His comments, which were harsh and out of character for Wardell (and taken out of context by several news sources), were unearthed by a PC Gamer UK post urging consumers to avoid buying Elemental because of all of its technical problems.

In a statement posted to the official Elemental: War of Magic website, Wardell expressed his regret over his comments and tried to explain his state of mind at the time:

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Kane & Lynch 2 to Use Steamworks for DRM

July 26, 2010 -

The PC version of Kane & Lynch 2 will use Steameworks for DRM, according to Eidos. A PC demo of the sequel that managed to get Giant Bomb founder Jeff Gerstmann fired when he worked at Gamespot is also available at a 10 percent discount via the Steam discount program. Because the game supports Steamworks don't expect to find it on Stardock's Impulse if that's your distribution platform of choice - Stardock won't support any game going forward that requires the use of third-party software.

Kane & Lynch 2 , like other games that use Steamworks, requires the use of the Steam client, which provides DRM protection, along with multiplayer matchmaking, achievements, stats, and leaderboards. The game will be released on August 17 in North America and on August 20 in Europe. The game will be available on those dates for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Source: Shacknews

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Stardock, 2D Boy Talk Sense on DRM

May 12, 2009 -

In a refreshing break from the standard video game industry propaganda, a pair of maverick PC developers offer some straight talk on DRM to Gamasutra's Paul Hyman.

Ron Carmel of 2D Boy (World of Goo) believes that the major publishers are beginning to back off on the use of DRM following consumer outrage over its use in games like Spore:

I definitely believe this is all the result of a change in the public perception of DRM, a sort of grass roots uprising. Gamers are much more vocal about it than they used to be, perhaps because they are so accustomed to downloading music without too many restrictions.

But Carmel also relates DRM to the battle over used game sales currently being waged between video game publishers and retailers:

Publishers aren't stupid. They know that DRM doesn't work against piracy. What they're trying to do is stop people from going to GameStop to buy $50 games for $35, none of which goes into the publishers' pockets. If DRM permits only a few installs, that minimizes the number of times a game can be resold.

Although, to be fair, there doesn't appear to be much of a secondary market for PC games among retailers. Consumer-to-consumer channels like Ebay may be a different story. Brad Wardell of Stardock added:

Spore was the final straw that broke the camel's back. Someone who buys software does not want to be made to feel like a chump for buying it.

Not surprisingly, the Entertainment Software Association, which lobbies on behalf of publishers, argued in support of DRM. VP Ric Hirsch told Gamasutra:

DRM is a reasonable response to high piracy rates... There is little doubt that piracy would be far more widespread without game publishers' use of DRM.

43 comments

PCGA's Randy Stude: Piracy Helped PC Game Biz Grow

February 14, 2009 -

Since it is Valentine's Day, I will admit that here at GamePolitics we heart Randy Stude (uh, that's in a manly, want-him-on-our-side-in-team-deathmatch sort of way).

The president of the PC Gaming Alliance invariably talks sense and pulls no punches as an unabashed advocate for the computer gaming crowd. Plus, he's a great interview, as we found out in December (see: PlayStation 4 Might Live Inside Your PC and Other Wisdom from PCGA's Randy Stude).

Big Download is the latest beneficiary of Randy's insights. The site has posted a fascinating interview in which the PCGA head talks about the issue of piracy and PC games.

Most notably, Randy points out that, back in the day, piracy actually helped grow the PC industry: 

I don't think that [those who protested Spore's DRM scheme] is anti-DRM as much as they are anti-Spore's approach to DRM. Their protest has been echoed many times on many gaming forums and the PCGA is listening...

 

If you ask [Valve and Stardock] about the rate of piracy for their games you may find that one has rampant piracy and the other has almost none. The PC Gaming Industry's history is littered with examples of startups (including Stardock and Valve) that actually benefitted from wide spread piracy to grow a market for their future titles.

 

Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating piracy... However, how would Quake, Doom, Starcraft, Counter-Strike, or Half-Life have been able to grow widespread brand recognition without a widespread network of gamers openly sharing these games. These titles (and many more) defined the industry. Personally, my first experience with a first person shooter was with Doom (back in the day) and I did not pay for it. Id Software turned the corner and has a very successful business built on the back of the early free/open source exchange of their games...

 

27 comments

CEO Explains How Govt. Incentives Kept Stardock in Michigan

February 10, 2009 -

When Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) gave a shout-out to Stardock CEO Brad Wardell in her State of the State address last week, there was a back story.

As GamePolitics reported at the time, Granholm credited Michigan's game and film production incentive program with keeping Stardock located in the state.

For its part, Edge Online interviewed Stardock CEO Brad Wardell, who explained the impact of the Michigan incentives on his company:

[Michigan state officials] came to us and said look, what are your problems with Michigan?" Wardell rattled off some of the barriers of Stardock's location: a shallow talent pool, the weather and the communication infrastructure (Stardock's offices use a Comcast cable connection)...

 

the state was receptive, coming to Stardock with a package that outlined plans to improve communication infrastructure, incentives to hire from local colleges and breaks on relocation costs when recruiting out of state.

"If you're having to pay a guy a salary of $50K, $60K, $75K, and then you have to pay extra for relocation costs, the tax credit can make the difference. It can take away the cost of moving expenses."

5 comments

Michigan Guv Gives Stardock a Shout-out in State of State

February 4, 2009 -

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm gave PC game publisher Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire) some Guv-love in her State of the State address yesterday.

Speaking at the State Capitol in Lansing, Granholm acknowledged that Michigan has been hit hard by the economic downturn. But the Guv looked for a silver lining in the film and video game sectors:

There’s real pain in the auto world. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost... Those losses have fueled our determination to bring new industries to Michigan...

 

Since enacting the nation’s most aggressive film [and video game production] incentives in April, we have seen more than 70 film and TV projects slated for production in Michigan, bringing some $430 million in economic activity here...

 

Tonight, I’m pleased to make three major announcements... Stardock Systems, a digital gaming manufacturer, will build its production facilities in Plymouth...

 

The fact that these jobs exist in Michigan today is no accident. These jobs are here because we put a strategy in place to bring them here – often by beating out other states and other countries to get them...

As GamePolitics reported in 2008, Gov. Granholm's administration aggressively pursued a financial incentive package for film, TV and video game production.

Stardock is known as a gamer-friendly publisher which eschews DRM on its PC titles. The company and its CEO, Brad Wardell, garnered major attention at PAX 2008 with the release of the controversial Gamers' Bill of Rights.

GP: Big thanks to reader Chris Bray for the heads-up!

Stardock Building non-DRM IP Security for PC Games

October 29, 2008 -

Consumer-friendly PC publisher Stardock is working on a non-intrusive copyright protection scheme for PC games, according to Edge Online.

Citing an interview with CEO Brad Wardell, EO reports that Stardock is developing the solution for other publishers. GamePolitics readers will recall that Wardell and Gas Powered Games head Chris Taylor released the controversial Gamers Bill of Rights during PAX 2008.

It seems that major PC game publishers were unwilling to sign onto the Bill of Rights, however. While not naming names, Wardell commented on the publishers' reluctance:

While Stardock doesn't put copy protection on its retail games, the fact is that most publishers are never going to agree to do that. So the publishers are telling us, 'Put your money where your mouth is. Why don't you guys develop something that you think is suitable that would protect our IP, but would be more acceptable to users?'

We're investigating what would make users happy to protect their needs, but also provide some security for the publishers. ... We're actually developing a technology that would do that.


Wardell stopped short of terming his new project a form of DRM:

The problem with 'DRM' is that it's so loosely defined... Stardock's products use activation, and I wouldn't say that it's DRM. We're just verifying if you're real customer... We want that [game user] license to be yours, not per machine... It's not your machine buying the game. It's you...

Publishers should have the right to be stupid [about DRM] if they want. That's their right. And it's the right of the consumer to choose not to buy.

9 comments

Stardock Revises Gamer's Bill of Rights

October 16, 2008 -

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has issued an update to the Gamer's Bill of Rights that he initially released at PAX 08.

As reported by Shacknews:

The revision addresses the need for more specific wording in order "to get to a place that most users and most publishers can agree on." In addition, Wardell examined the common complaints regarding controversial DRM practices, breaking them down into legitimate, borderline, and illegitimate categories.

 

He also noted that while Stardock will continue to release titles with no DRM, owners will need to download meaningful updates directly from Stardock. The CEO further revealed that Stardock will soon add "IP protection services" to its digital distribution platform Impulse "so that publishers at least have an alternative to methods like SecureROM, Tages or Steamworks. As a practical matter, most game publishers who want to protect their IP have few options right now."

 

"There is no solution to the issue of protecting intellectual property (IP) that will satisfy all parties," explained Wardell. "There are customers who will accept nothing less than publishers acquiescing to a quasi-honor system for purchasing software. That doesn't work."

Among what Wardell sees as legit consumer gripes:

  •  They don't want the copy protection to interfere with their enjoyment or use of the software or game.
  • If a program wants to have a limited activation system, then it needs to provide a way to de-authorize other computers (ala iTunes).
  • A program should not be installing drivers or other hidden files on the system that use system resources.
  • Activation-based DRM means that if the publisher goes out of business or simply stops supporting their content that the customer can no longer use their legally purchased item.
  • Having an arbitrarily low limit on personal activations makes the program feel like it's being rented.
  • Requiring the user to always be online to play a single-player game. Though we do think publishers have the right to require this as long as they make it clear on the box.

Wardell visited GamePolitics yesterday to respond to concerns about the Gamer's Bill of Rights voiced by PC Gamer editor-in-chief Kristen Salvatore.

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PC Gamer Editor Eyes Gamer's Bill of Rights with Suspicion

October 15, 2008 -

Kristen Salvatore, editor-in-chief of PC Gamer, writes in the December issue (available now) that she is suspicious of the Gamer's Bill of Rights issued at PAX 2008 by Stardock CEO Brad Wardell (Sins of a Solar Empire) and Gas-Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor (Total Annihilation).

Kristen writes:

I am 100 percent committed to the belief that, as consumers... PC gamers deserve to feel confident in their purchase... But the Gamer's Bill of Rights is riddled with ambiguities, which is why I and others are eyeing it with some suspicion.

 

What constitutes a game's "finished state," and who determines it? What makes for a "meaningful update"? And is it really my right to play a game without the disc in the drive - even if it increases the possibility that the game can be pirated?

 

I applaud Brad Wardell of Stardock and Chris Taylor of GPG... But if the Gamer's Bill of Rights is to transcend publicity-stunt status and become a catalyst for real change, it needs to be the starting point for a tough conversation about which rights PC gamers should really expect to enjoy - and which, as the result of enjoying the freedoms of an essentially open platform, they may need to give up.

GP: What do you think, GamePolitics readers?

41 comments

Stardock Releases Free Version of The Political Machine

September 22, 2008 -

I'll admit to having a man crush on Stardock ever since they issued the PC Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX last month. Gotta love it when a game publisher thinks about issues like copyright in a rational way and makes a commitment to caring about its customers.

While Stardock is perhaps best known for strategy titles Sins of a Solar Empire and Galactic Civilizations, its presidential campaign sim The Political Machine is a terrific play as well. And now you can download it to sim the 2008 presidential race for free. Stardock announced last week that they are giving away The Political Machine Express for Windows PCs. From the company's press release:

The free strategy game... puts players in the role of the campaign manager of either John McCain or Barack Obama in a quest to win the White House. The game has been updated to feature vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin...

 

Players play on the electoral map of the United States with the goal to gain the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the election. Players get 21 weeks (approximately the time candidates have between the primary season and the general election) to make speeches, raise money, buy advertisements, hire political operatives, appear on cable TV shows in order to woo voters to their side.

GP: Although I've played the full version, I haven't tried the free Political Machine Express. The primary difference would appear to be one of scope, however, with Express focused on the actual McCain-Obama fight, whereas the full $19.99 game offers numerous hypothetical scenarios.

The video accompanying this article is the trailer for the full game.

22 comments

Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX

August 29, 2008 -

Gamer-friendly PC publisher Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire) has released what it is terming the "Gamer’s Bill of Rights" at PAX.

The company calls the document:

...a statement of principles that it hopes will encourage the PC game industry to adopt standards that are more supportive of PC gamers. The document contains 10 specific “rights” that video game enthusiasts can expect from Stardock as an independent developer and publisher that it hopes that other publishers will embrace...

 

the objective of the Gamer’s Bill of Rights is to increase the confidence of consumers of the quality of PC games which in turn will lead to more sales and a better gaming experience.

Of the Bill of Rights, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell commented:

As an industry, we need to begin setting some basic, common sense standards that reward PC gamers for purchasing our games. The console market effectively already has something like this in that its games have to go through the platform maker such as Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony. But on the PC, publishers can release games that are scarcely completed, poorly supported, and full of intrusive copy protection and then be stuck on it.

Chris Taylor, CEO and founder of Gas Powered Games, expressed support for the Bill of Rights, which Stardock enumerates as:

  • Gamers shall have the right to return games that don’t work with their computers for a full refund.
  • Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.
  • Gamers shall have the right to expect meaningful updates after a game’s release.
  • Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.
  • Gamers shall have the right to expect that the minimum requirements for a game will mean that the game will play adequately on that computer.
  • Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won’t install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their consent.
  • Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.
  • Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.
  • Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.
  • Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

GP: While this would more properly be termed the PC Gamer's Bill of Rights, we have to say, Bravo, Stardock! 

90 comments

GameSpot Previews The Political Machine 2008

June 6, 2008 -

Decent games about the political process are few and far between, but Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire, Galactic Civilizations II) will release The Political Machine 2008, a turn-based election strategy sim for PC, on June 18th.

And, while real politics is an expensive business, the virtual kind is relatively cheap. The Political Machine 2008 retails for a mere $19.95.

Over at GameSpot, Jon Miller, who played as manager of Barack Obama's simulated campaign, has a detailed preview:

In The Political Machine, one turn breaks down to one week. The amount of stamina your candidate has limits the number of actions you can perform for each turn. Early on, the country is one giant mass of undecided voters, and it's your goal as campaign manager to sway them with lofty campaign promises...as well as blatant negative campaigning...

 

Of course, no election is complete without fundraising. Each action in the game, even flying from one state to another, will drain your campaign budget. If you have enough stamina, it helps to hit the fundraiser button, especially in wealthy states loyal to your party. Obama cleaned up in California and New York, routinely bringing in more than $200,000 per fundraiser, but he floundered in South Dakota where he raised only $6,000.

 

And so the campaign season goes... The Political Machine 2008 is not the most complicated strategy game out there, but it's a fun, lighthearted look at American politics.

GP: I enjoyed the last version of the game (2004), and can't wait to get my hands on this one.

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MaskedPixelanteOK, so my brief research looking at GameFAQs forums (protip, don't do that if you wish to keep your sanity intact.), the 3DS doesn't have the power to run anything more powerful than the NES/GBC/GG AND run the 3DS system in the background.07/28/2014 - 11:01am
ZenMatthew, the 3DS already has GBA games in the form of the ambassador tittles. And I an just as curious about them not releasing them on there like they did the NES ones. I do like them on the Wii U as well, but seems weird. And where are the N64 games?07/28/2014 - 10:40am
james_fudgeNo. They already cut the price. Unless they release a new version that has a higher price point.07/28/2014 - 10:19am
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, It most likely is. The question is whether Nintendo wants to do it.07/28/2014 - 10:12am
Matthew WilsonI am sure the 3ds im more then powerful enough to emulate a GBA game.07/28/2014 - 9:54am
Sleaker@IanC - while the processor is effectively the same or very similar, the issue is how they setup the peripheral hardware. It would probably require creating some kind of emulation for the 3DS to handle interfacing with the audio and input methods for GBA07/28/2014 - 9:30am
Sleaker@EZK - hmmm, that makes sense. I could have sworn I had played GB/GBC games on it too though (emud of course)07/28/2014 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, the DS has a built in GBA chipset in the system. That is why it played GBA games. The GBA had a seperate chipset for GB and GBColor games. The DS did not have that GB/GBC chipset and that is why the DS could not play GB and GBC games.07/28/2014 - 7:25am
IanCI dont think Nintendo ever gave reason why GBA games a reason why GBA games aren't on the 3DS eshop. The 3DS uses chips that are backwards compatable with the GBA ob GBA processor, after all.07/28/2014 - 6:46am
Sleakerhmmm that's odd I could play GBA games natively in my original DS.07/28/2014 - 1:39am
Matthew Wilsonbasically "we do not want to put these games on a system more then 10 people own" just joking07/27/2014 - 8:13pm
MaskedPixelanteSomething, something, the 3DS can't properly emulate GBA games and it was a massive struggle to get the ambassador games running properly.07/27/2014 - 8:06pm
Andrew EisenIdeally, you'd be able to play such games on either platform but until that time, I think Nintendo's using the exclusivity in an attempt to further drive Wii U sales.07/27/2014 - 7:21pm
Matthew WilsonI am kind of surprised games like battle network are not out on the 3ds.07/27/2014 - 7:01pm
Andrew EisenWell, Mega Man 1 - 4, X and X2 are already on there and the first Battle Network is due out July 31st.07/27/2014 - 6:16pm
MaskedPixelanteDid Capcom ever give us a timeline for when they planned on putting the Megaman stuff on Wii U?07/27/2014 - 2:23pm
MaskedPixelanteIf by "distance themselves from Google Plus" you mean "forcing Google Plus integration in everything", then yes, they are distancing themselves from Google Plus.07/26/2014 - 12:20pm
MechaTama31I wish they would distance G+ from the Play Store, so I could leave reviews and comments again.07/26/2014 - 11:03am
Matthew Wilson@pm I doubt it. Google seems to be distancing themselves from G+07/25/2014 - 9:31pm
Papa MidnightGoogle+ Integration is coming to Twitch!07/25/2014 - 8:41pm
 

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