GameStop Breaks Demigod Street Date; Stardock CEO “Very Unhappy”

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Stardock boss Brad Wardell is none too happy with GameStop over the retailer’s decision to break the street date for Demigod, a move that forced the early digital release of the game and brought tired Stardock employees back to work through the Easter weekend.

Demigod was originally slated for release on April 14 but GameStop put it on sale last week, causing no end of aggravation for Wardell and the folks at Stardock. “First, it was Easter weekend. And many of us had just finished a good solid eight weeks of massive crunch and were looking forward to the weekend to recover,” he wrote on the Impulse blog. “Instead, we found ourselves back at work having to turn on and configure the multiplayer matchmaking servers (we had enough for a beta but not for thousands of people).”

The absence of copy protection on Stardock games means that piracy of the game will be maximized “in theory,” since it wasn’t available anywhere but GameStop, even if only briefly. On the upside, Wardell, who is well known in gaming circles for his support of “gamers’ rights” and opposition to intrusive DRM, said the unique situation will allow Stardock to “actually see the effects of piracy.”

“Since we know Demigod is an outstanding game with a wide appeal with equal retail and digital distribution to other titles that came out this year with similar demographics we can see how well it sells compared to them,” he wrote.

There’s been plenty of speculation as to how all this came about in the first place. Some observers have suggested GameStop intentionally released the game early to get an edge on Stardock’s digital release of the game on its Impulse network, but Wardell declined to comment in his post. “There have been plenty of discussions about whether GameStop did this intentionally or not which I won’t go into here,” he wrote. But he told Gamasutra that he’s not ready to drop the matter with GameStop just yet. “We’re still discussing with [GameStop] how exactly this happened,” he said. “Obviously we’re very unhappy, as it has made getting online connectivity going a lot tougher than expected.”

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