An email from Stardock

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
Stardock Entertainment

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…


  1. François says:

    Yep, 100% agree.
    Some have lessons to learn from such an example.
    Especially when you compare to the infamous Avenger controller debacle (Ocean Marketing).

  2. Xander says:

    To the best of my memory, I have NEVER seen a company so blatantly go against the grain when it comes to customer satisfaction on such a global scale. Bravo!

    I’ve seen companies give one-offs to one person when they seriously start griping about product quality, although I’ve never been there.

    I’ll have to start looking at Stardock for some online games. True that Sins was AWESOME, and I forgot they were the publisher.

  3. Medium says:

    I am… I just do not know how to say it. This is just how I want my wold to be. SOASA was among the very few games I actually bought after trying it by “questionable” means, because it simply was worth it. This just confirms it. VERY much. Companies like these, which are concerned with the actual quality of their products, with what an educated customer wants to hold in it’s hand – these are the true heroes of today, that just simply deserve our (and anyones) support. Money- and criticism wise.
    Unlike Ubisoft and EA and their likes, these guys will see many more bucks from me than most game developers these days. Thanks for pointing out, that my “buy THIS”-decision was spot on!

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