Double Buffered

A Programmer’s View of Game Design, Development, and Culture

Brad Wardell on GFW Radio Podcast

Posted by Ben Zeigler on April 2, 2008

If you read my recent post on piracy, you ‘ll probably be interested in a recent Games For Windows (The Magazine and not Live or really Microsoft in any way) Radio Podcast. Brad Wardell, who’s the CEO of Stardock games is the guest on the April 2nd podcast. The Brad-heavy content starts around the 40 minute mark, and the next hour is basically an interview of Brad. If you’re interested in jewish stereotypes, crazy religious RTS players, or Mythos (which does sound pretty cool), make sure to not skip the first 40 minutes. I find it (as well as 1up Yours) to be solidly amusing and informative podcasts, that I often listen to while playing games.

Anyway, on to the relevant content. Brad talks about everything, from the death of PC gaming, to piracy, to their next games, to Games For Windows, to competing with Steam. Here’s some highlights for those people who are deaf or lazy:

  • The old “Publish a physical game to retail and then one expansion pack” model is dead, because of the hard limit on number of PC copies you can sell, and the rising costs for “Triple A” games.
  • “I try to make games that cost less to create than they generate in revenue, and this is radical”
  • Because most publishers are publicly held companies, they’re obsessed with Gross (sales) instead of Net (sales – cost) income. Wall street doesn’t give a shit about profitability, only size. As a result big publishers will only even try to make games that can sell a million copies, instead of making more, smaller, and more profitable games. (This is why I never want Cryptic to go public)
  • As an example, Atari wanted Stardock to make Master of Magic 2 and Star Control 4, but Atari decided that they wouldn’t sell a million copies, so they wouldn’t go forward with the probably extremely profitable projects.
  • NPD numbers do not include either digital distribution, or Wall Mart, so the sales numbers have very little to do with actual sales.
  • Master of Orion 3 contained a flyer for Galactic Civilizations. So, everyone who bought MoO3 and realized how much it BLEW CHUNKS, they went go buy GalCiv, and now Stardock has lots of money. (So I guess MoO3 was not in fact the worst thing ever)
  • They’re working on a new fantasy strategy game, which is basically Master of Magic 2 (but not branded). “You design your own units, you have all kinds of cool spells… when you zoom out it turns into a cloth map… players can create their own content and submit it, it’s part of the game” (Awesome)
  • “The idea is that you make a game, and you then sell it to people who want to play the game. And so if you make the people who buy your game happy, they’re more likely to buy your next game”
  • Stardock takes direct player input and suggestions via forums, but they’re assholes about it and ignore most of it. (Works for Cryptic too)
  • He reiterated his argument on piracy from his forum post (which I talked about before), so I won’t bother recapping.
  • Making your PC game a “Games for Windows” game involves submitting a game months in advance for approval. You also aren’t allowed to make a launcher executable, and aren’t allowed to add to the start menu (unlike MS’s games). They didn’t consider Games for Windows Live because MS wanted to charge for everything distributed by the service (ie for new content). On the positive side, getting branded as Games For Windows gives you a good amount of free advertising, and significant help in getting retailer promotional support.
  • Stardock is apparently going to launch a Steam competitor, called Impulse (to replace TotalGaming), and will be making a big push to become the #2 digital distribution platform. He talked a lot about how he thinks PC Players want a choice of distribution networks. (I actually sort of think he’s wrong here, and want Steam to win just because of the community features. Having a #2 around in case Steam starts to suck would be nice though)

2 Responses to “Brad Wardell on GFW Radio Podcast”

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  2. […] 7, 2008 I listen to a bunch of podcasts, and I’ve been searching for a good replacement to GFW Live since it sadly departed. Various people suggested the GamersWithJobs podcast or One Life Left, but […]

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