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Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted

Confirming a rumor on Shacknews, a post on the Elemental Forums by Stardock's Brad Wardell says that the launch failure of Elemental: War of Magic has resulted in layoffs at Stardock, shedding some light on his comment that "the issue here is far far worse than many of you think it is." Word is:

It is true.

Elemental's revenue was anticipated to provide the revenue both for our main games team's next project as well as a second team. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen so we've had to start laying people off.

No one is being fired. None of these people did anything wrong. Stardock is a small company and each person here is truly amongst the best and brightest. So you can imagine how much it sucks for all of us to lay off anyone. We haven't had to lay anyone off since our migration from the OS/2 market in 1998. It would be great if we can bring as many of these people back over time if the studio can afford it.

No one involved on the core components of Elemental is affected.

Elemental's rocky launch can be summed up (IMO) as follows: Our QA process was insufficient to handle a brand new platform (Elemental = Kumquat 1.0 versus say Galactic Civilizations II was using Pear which was the same engine, modified, from 1997's Entrepreneur) + my own catastrophic poor judgment in not objectively evaluating the core game play components.

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27. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 22:25 Riker
 
I guess they should've stuck with UPS? Sorry to hear about the layoffs, though.  
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26. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 22:24 Prez
 
Bhruic wrote on Sep 4, 2010, 20:39:
I'm getting a sinking feeling that we soon will find out if those who continually ask "What about when the digital distribution provider goes out of business? What happens to your games then?" have cause for their trepidation or not...

Not at all. The people getting laid off were from the second development team they were trying to implement so they could have two teams going at once. With the economic failure of Elemental, they won't have the income to fund both teams, so they are falling back to just one. But their overall financial health isn't destroyed by this, they just need to cut back.

I hope that's insider knowledge and not just wishful thinking. I have been buying lots of games on Impulse lately.
 
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25. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 22:01 ASeven
 
As much as Brad has fucked up time and again, as much as Stardock has fallen short of many promises, this bis truly depressing and I wouldn't be surprised this is the beginning of the end for Stardock.

Depressing indeed and as bad as Brad and Stardock's decisions have been in the past, getting yourself out of a job or a company is too much of a heavy price to pay for two blotched launches.

I do hope Stardock survives and becomes stronger from this, along with Brad learning some very valuable lessons. However it isn't looking good and to be honest I don't think anyone who really cares for PC gaming and gaming in general would have wanted this.
 
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24. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 21:53 Kxmode
 
If Brad was responsible for this game should he lay himself off too, or hand the reigns of leadership over to someone more competent? In his own words he writes, "my own catastrophic poor judgment in not objectively evaluating the core game play components."  
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23. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 20:57 Wolfen
 
Well they also have the whole Windowblinds and other windows enhancements and such. Surely they generate decent enough revenue from that to stay active as a company.  
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22. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 20:41 Verno
 
That's a problem with game developers right now frankly, you should be able to survive one disappointing game better than this.

Agreed, the industry in general needs to re-examine its revenue models when a single game's performance so drastically affects the lives of so many people. Even in a perfect world where every game scored 9+ on Metacritic you still cannot sell 1mil+ every time.
 
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21. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 20:39 Bhruic
 
I'm getting a sinking feeling that we soon will find out if those who continually ask "What about when the digital distribution provider goes out of business? What happens to your games then?" have cause for their trepidation or not...

Not at all. The people getting laid off were from the second development team they were trying to implement so they could have two teams going at once. With the economic failure of Elemental, they won't have the income to fund both teams, so they are falling back to just one. But their overall financial health isn't destroyed by this, they just need to cut back.
 
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20. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 20:37 StingingVelvet
 
Well, losing Stardock would be a blow to PC gaming but after Demigod and Elemental I guess they deserve it. I doubt things are that bad though as someone else said, they'll just trim the fat and concentrate on less things. One hopes, anyway.

After Sins sold so well and Demigod was said to have sold well despite the problems one wonders how a week after launch Elemental has caused such a problem. That's a problem with game developers right now frankly, you should be able to survive one disappointing game better than this.
 
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19. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 20:32 Flatline
 
Prez wrote on Sep 4, 2010, 17:13:
The bile and vitriol that Stardock gets from gamers is far in excess of what their sins, past and present, deserve. Personally I am very saddened by this news and now am deeply concerned about the viability of the company overall. While the haters would inexplicably revel in it, the loss of Stardock would be a terrible blow to PC gaming in my opinion.

Back to back screwed game launches, immediately following the CEO dragging his personal politics into the public, which followed a lot of public pomp and circumstance about treating gamers with respect...

I dunno, Stardock just doesn't seem particularly professional in their actions anymore. They may have good intentions, but they aren't helping their own image really.

I do agree that the loss of Stardock would be a bad thing to PC gaming however.
 
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18. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 19:01 SBlat
 
Prez wrote on Sep 4, 2010, 17:59:
I'm getting a sinking feeling that we soon will find out if those who continually ask "What about when the digital distribution provider goes out of business? What happens to your games then?" have cause for their trepidation or not...

Well, Impulse has a "backup" feature which doesn't require the servers be up to allow reinstalling (it's just a .7zip file of the game). Ironically, the Stardock games on Impulse require further activation after installing, so would no longer be playable without the servers operating, but other titles would be fine.

But I really doubt it's that bad, and it's not like it's Impulse that is floundering, so I'm sure it could find a buyer if worst came to worst. Still, if we're playing nightmare scenarios, how about if Impulse's failure then brings on demands for Valve to spinoff Steam, so that gamer's collections won't be imperiled by the success or failure of a single game studio. I imagine a Steam unhitched from Valve would rush much more quickly towards becoming a faceless corporation with more interest in market share and profit than anything else.
 
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17. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 18:33 Bet
 
Prez wrote on Sep 4, 2010, 17:13:
The bile and vitriol that Stardock gets from gamers is far in excess of what their sins, past and present, deserve. Personally I am very saddened by this news and now am deeply concerned about the viability of the company overall. While the haters would inexplicably revel in it, the loss of Stardock would be a terrible blow to PC gaming in my opinion.
I was thinking the same thing, though not quite as eloquently as you.

This is a depressing mess.
 
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16. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 17:59 Prez
 
I'm getting a sinking feeling that we soon will find out if those who continually ask "What about when the digital distribution provider goes out of business? What happens to your games then?" have cause for their trepidation or not...

This comment was edited on Sep 4, 2010, 18:09.
 
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15. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 17:56 Jonny
 
Wasn't Sins made by Ironclad? Stardock was just the publisher.  
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14. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 17:40 Golwar
 
Seems as if successors of MoO and MoM are doomed to fail, is it with direct successors as MoO3 or indirect as Elemental.

While I had serious doubts about Elemental as soon as the first screens were published, I would have wished them a better fate.
I doubt that this will have a huge impact on Sins 2, but ... on the other hand it seems that Wardell almost never says the straight truth. Sure, he acknowledged now that they failed - but that is something everyone knew anyways by now.
 
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13. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 17:19 Sudbina
 
According to Joystiq, there will be more layoffs:

Joystiq has been informed by a source that this is only the first round of layoffs at Stardock and that the final count will be about 20 people. We've also been told the "games team itself is/was only 15 people big," so the layoffs will affect others at the company and outside contract workers. Survivors of the cuts will allegedly include the game's producer, art lead, and two lead developers. The source claims, "All of the posts [Wardell] has made in our public forums about how the games team is funded by our commercial software development and that Elemental was not rushed out the door for monetary reasons is a lie. These people are getting laid off due to poor sales and Stardock's inability to pay back the capital investors that funded Elemental's development."

http://www.joystiq.com/2010/09/04/elemental-launch-results-in-stardock-layoffs/
 
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12. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 17:13 Prez
 
The bile and vitriol that Stardock gets from gamers is far in excess of what their sins, past and present, deserve. Personally I am very saddened by this news and now am deeply concerned about the viability of the company overall. While the haters would inexplicably revel in it, the loss of Stardock would be a terrible blow to PC gaming in my opinion.  
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11. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 17:10 theyarecomingforyou
 
You've got to admit that this is a pretty clever business strategy. The game was completely irrelevant and yet now they're generating lots of headlines by simply admitting that it's terrible.  
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10. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 17:05 Cutter
 
They were the best and the brightest and yet the game failed miserably anyway? LOL! Stardock may as well close up shop now if that's the case. I bet Brad isn't taking a pay cut.  
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9. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 16:51 Darks
 
Looks like this might put some serious dampers on any New Sins 2 coming out. And that sucks, Sins is such a great game too.  
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8. Re: Stardock Layoffs: Elemental Faulted Sep 4, 2010, 16:46 rist3903
 
Hey - the guy who was called out on this forums as a "shill". Where are you now? Where are you in Stardock's time in need? YOU - who said that Elemental is an awesome game despite it's "minor" faults?

I'm not seeing you championing Stardock in it's worst possible time. Come on. Where are you? Let's see you cheerlead Stardock now.

He was laid off.
 
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