As you may know if you’ve been reading for a while, I’m a gamer. Have been pretty much my whole life. In fact, it was the prospect of creating my own video games that first got me into programming.
A while back, I purchased Elemental, the latest game by Stardock, a company with a reputation for making high-quality games and for being a lot more ethical than many gaming companies. Their Sins of a Solar Empire was the best-selling game of 2008, for example, even though they refused to put any DRM on their software. (So much for piracy destroying sales!) They’re also the guys who created Impulse, a Steam competitor that ended up getting bought by GameStop last year.
Elemental, unfortunately, was not a high-quality game. The basic concept was decent–not exceptional, but not *bad* either–but the game itself was a slow, crashy, bug-ridden mess. Several patches over the course of several months eventually got it to a mostly-decent state, but in no way did it live up to expectations.
They just did something that does a lot to redeem them in my eyes. I woke up this morning with the following letter in my email:
Dear Stardock Customer,
If you’re receiving this email it means you purchased Elemental: War of Magic before November 1, 2010.
Elemental: War of Magic was a game we had very high hopes for. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment both to us, as well as to many of our customers. Stardock’s success in its nineteen years of existence has been because people know when they buy something with our name on it, it’ll be excellent. With Elemental: War of Magic, we failed that expectation.
For the past year, Stardock has been working on something new — Elemental: Fallen Enchantress. We went back to the drawing board to create not an expansion, but rather a new game in the Elemental universe.
Fallen Enchantress is currently in beta. The beta has already been added to your Stardock account and the final version will automatically be added free of charge on the day of release.
To access the beta, visit: [download link].
We hope you find Elemental: Fallen Enchantress to be a game that lives up to the expectations you had for War of Magic. We thank you for your support and we look forward to your feedback.
Brad Wardell – President & CEO
I really appreciate that. They didn’t have any obligation to do that, but it’s the right thing to do. When your customers pay for something and then obviously do not get their money’s worth, you acknowledge it and find a way to make up for it. If only more game companies (or software companies in general) out there had leaders with Brad Wardell’s conscience and sense of responsibility…