As strategy buffs may know and others should learn, Stardock Systems’ Elemental: War of Magic was released upon the earth yesterday. And apparently, it’s a disaster.
PC Gamer has described it as “broken to the point of being unplayable,” and urges gamers to “stay well away.” RPS goes a bit further, accusing Stardock of violating its own Gamers Bill of Rights (now removed from the Stardock website) – specifically Right #2: “Gamers shall have the right to demand that games be released in a finished state.”
UPDATE: Stardock hasn’t so much removed the Gamers Bill of Rights from their site as they have relocated it to www.gamersbillofrights.org.
It gets nastier. There’s vitriol of internetian proportions being spilled on Quarter to Three and RPS forums, and outspoken Stardock president Brad Wardell has entered the fray, saying:
Anyway, the hostility in this thread exceeds my own tolerance for putting up with said hostility… saying the game is like an “early beta” then well, please stay away from our games in the future. I consider it ready for release and if others disagree, don’t buy our games.
UPDATE: Brad Wardell has apologized and provided some context for his comment, and responded to some of the complaints about Elemental.
Stardock is a highly respected company, well-liked and unique in that it produces both games and productivity/officey types of software. The Galactic Civilizations series is nothing short of brilliant, and while I don’t really want or need another digital distribution client installed on my computer aside from Steam, I do appreciate what Stardock is trying to do with its Impulse service.
What surprises me is that Elemental had an extended, months-long closed beta. Surely the issues being complained about had been noticed or mentioned during this period. It’s not like Stardock to ignore known issues. And there is a Day Zero patch available, but the buzz is that it doesn’t fix much.
Offhand I’m going to prognosticate that Elemental will be fixed, and will be excellent, just not right now. This one seems like it needed a little more time in the oven.
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Glad you’ve mentioned this because I’d just got wind of it over at RPS. Ouch.
I’m with you though, I expect Elemental to be brilliant with time.
I have been looking forward to this game for a while now. Even pre-ordered it. That said, I haven’t gotten around to downloading/installing it and wont for a while. I still have a good half dozen or so games sitting in my Steam folder that haven’t even been played: BioShock, BioShock II, Dawn of War II are just some of those games. Add my on-going FM 2010 dynasty and that’s enough gaming to tide me over for a long time. However, in a few months’ time “Elemental” will be competing with “Civ V” and “Fallout: New Vegas”.
I am comfortable with the idea of a game needing to be patched post-release. Even patched mutltiple time to fix minor bugs or issues. But to release a game in this condition is really appalling. I am an attorney. I don’t make games or publish them and even I know well enough that releasing a game in this condition is not a good or even acceptable business plan.
It’s sort of the equivalent of, say, signing Wade Redden to long term, super expensive deal. I’m not a NHL GM, but I knew that was stupid before it happened. (Sorry for the obscure reference that perhaps only .5% of the population will understand.)
The Gamer’s Bill of Rights is not removed. They have a bad link
I am not sure if this was in the articles above, but this is Stardock’s CEO’s response to complaints:
“[S]aying the game is like an “early beta” then well, please stay away from our games in the future. I consider it ready for release and if others disagree, don’t buy our games.”
Really, dude? That’s your response? That’s how you feel about releasing a game that is essentially unplayable? This isn’t the time to be ego-driven and all high and mighty. You tuck your tail between your legs, eat a bunch of humble pie, prostrate yourself in front of your fans and customers and promise to fix this shit as quickly and throughly impossible.
What, did this guy graduate from BP’s Executive Public Relations program or something?
Yeah, some of that list bit should have read:
“You tuck your tail between your legs, eat a bunch of humble pie, prostrate yourself in front of your fans and customers and promise to fix this shit as quickly and thoroughly as possible.”
Thanks for posting this Steerpike.. man I wanted this game to be good.. I so did.. hope patching will fix it.
Why have I heard nothing about this game? :O
Just to clarify on big difference between Steam and Stardock’s Impulse client, is that unlike Steam, you only need Impulse for downloading and installation. After the software is installed on you PC, you don’t ever have to use Impulse again. You can even delete it and your game will run just fine.
Kind of wish Steam had that option as I have twice as many games on there then Impulse.
Lewis, I’ve been asking about/discussing it on the forums. I was hoping someone here would review it. You need to check those out buddy! : )
Hohum, I shall investigate this game post haste!
What makes the story – and Brad Wardell’s reaction – so surprising is that Stardock is… not Activision. These are the people who created the Gamers Bill of Rights, these are the people who oppose DRM, these are the people who have loudly and publicly, again and again, argued that the gamer must always come first.
It sounds like the game just needs some patches, and Stardock supports its software for years. It doesn’t sound like it’s fundamentally flawed. But it’s quite a surprise coming from this company.
Yeah, I’ve been reading up on some of the forums and even went back to the original post by Brad and followed that back to see why it happened. It seems like some of the boo-hooing is malicious and the general forum hate you see everywhere on the net.
A lot of people took Brad’s comment to mean he was shitting on his customers, but in context, I think he’s talking to the trolls who are talking shit and not being very productive about the whole thing.
A lot of people are saying the game is buggy, but not unplayable. And it sounds like Stardocks been working late into the night trying to address the issues people have with the game.
I’ll admit, though I’m kind of disappointed, I also kind of expected the game to be far from perfect upon release. I think Stardock being a smaller developer with much more limited resources is the primary reason for this. I’m thinking within a month, this game will be in much better shape. Or hope so anyway.
Here’s more from Wardell on the Q23 forums – sounds a little more like the Stardock I know:
I trimmed for length.
Well, he apologized and explained things. I’d recommend checking it out for anyone who’s been following this.
Thanks Db0, and Armand for the other link. While it still sounds like Elemental’s in need of some patching, it’s nice to see that Stardock hasn’t gone completely off the deep end.
In fairness to Wardell, the “don’t buy our games” remark was made after pages of Q23 posts, and after some pretty vicious personal attacks. I’m sure we’ve all fired off a comment we later regret.
Well, except me of course. I am faultless.
Bullshit steerpike you moron!!! 😉
Oops, there’s a comment I’ve fired off which I now regret… 🙂 haha
See? See? Everybody except me. Even Lewis is subject to internet rage. : )
You’ve not heard me when I’m playing Bad Company 2! The words coming out my mouth would make a whore blush!!! 🙂
You mean you never go ape shit crazy over some of the things you run into on the net Steerpike? Man, I wish I had that sort of zen like patience. The staggering degree of hate and stupidity.. it’s just too much at times.
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