Why Stardock Sold Impulse to GameStop

| 7 Apr 2011 13:00

Some developers and customers are frightened or pissed by corporate giant GameStop now owning Impulse, like the developers of Star Ruler Blind Mind Studios who have let it be known that they object to the Impulse deal. Wardell attempted to reassure detractors that GameStop is committed to PC gaming and keeping Impulse working well for all its partners, big or small. "We know that GameStop is very interested in working with indies like the developer of Star Ruler, so I'm hoping that he'll give GameStop a chance to demonstrate the benefits that Impulse will be able to bring, not just to him but to PC gamers everywhere."

Wardell also had some choice words for Theo Bergquist, CEO of competing digital distributor GamersGate - incidentally also run by a PC game publisher (Paradox) - who called Impulse "Steam's lesser talented stepchild" and doubted that GameStop paid much for Impulse. "I think [Bergquist's op-ed] says a lot more about GamersGate's position than anything else," Wardell said. Although Wardell couldn't disclose the exact numbers of the deal with GameStop, he dismissed Bergquist's supposition that it was merely a percentage deal or that GameStop didn't pay handsomely for Impulse. "It's a cash acquisition," he said. "Impulse was owned by Stardock, Stardock is owned by me. Now, Impulse is owned by the shareholders of GameStop instead."

GameStop is set to become full owners of Impulse and all its backend technologies some time at the end of May. Wardell thinks that the acquisition will allow Stardock to go back to making great software and games, and he is moving forward on hiring quality designers like the creator of Civilization V, Jon Shafer, to work on a new free campaign for Elemental. "We decided to really get back and start trying our best to bring in high-end, top-tier talent to each of our units," Wardell said. "You get guys like Jon Shafer, and I look at what they're doing, and I tell you, it really speaks to what a true game designer can do. Game design was one of those last areas where, 'I don't want to pay someone who just designs games.' But then you can actually see them do it, then you go, 'Oh my gosh, we should have done this years ago,' because it's just so amazing."

Even though he's now out of the digital distribution business, Wardell hopes that GameStop is able to use Impulse to compete with Steam so that there is some disparity in the market. "Imagine what would happen if there was only one of these platforms. Basically, they could do whatever they wanted, because once you get entrenched enough, it gets really hard to get someone else in there. Whereas, if there's two players on the block, if one starts to go overboard, the other one's right there to jump in," he said.

"It'd be kind of like on processors, right? Whether you like Intel or AMD better, thank god there's two of them."

I think you just gave the best argument ever for a two-party system, Brad.

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