Stardock CEO Dishes on Sales Numbers, GFW Live, and More


Stardock CEO Brad Wardell seems to stay in the news perpetually, this time giving the scoop on various topics of interest.

In a recent interview with Shacknews, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell let loose some pretty interesting information about the truth in sales numbers, Games for Windows Live, and digital distribution (again). The man has stuff to say, you’ve got to give him that.

He first expressed some displeasure with anyone that may label Stardock’s Sins of a Solar Empire as a “niche” title, stating: “it’s probably one of the best-selling PC games of the last couple years. We’re not talking about some game that sold 20,000 copies. We’re talking about a game that’s approaching a million full-priced units sold. How can you call that niche?” Makes sense to me, though the nature of the title is probably why it’s often considered niche, as Brad Wardell says himself in the interview that a multiplayer game is “two hour[s], minimum.”

This led to a conversation about real sales numbers, and what top ten lists really, or don’t really, mean. He basically says that you can “never” get real sales numbers, due to pack-in deals and the like. Even sales charts can be deceptive. “Number one on means you sold a hundred copies that day. Whereas Walmart or Best Buy might sell 20,000 copies of your game a week,” he reveals.

Though some publishers may believe digital distribution will save the PC, Wardell does not believe that digital distribution will kill off retail anytime soon. According to him: “Demigod has sold more copies at Walmart than anywhere else. Even though it’s on Impulse … [and] we sold thousands and thousands of copies this week.” So, the retail PC market is thriving after all? Let’s never speak of the death of the PC again.

The last interesting tidbit I got from the interview was Wardell’s opinion on Games for Windows Live. While he originally advocated the service, and even wanted Stardock’s upcoming Elemental: War of Magic to be a Games for Windows Live title, he now pretty much seems to despise it. About the service, he says: “they have things where, oh, if you want to use Games for Windows Live to update your game, you have to go through [their] certification. And if you do it more than X number of times, you have to pay money.” He ends with: “If Games for Windows Live maintains that strategy and they take over, I’m done. I’m not making PC games. I would be done.” That’s serious business.

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