Poor Elemental Sales Causes Layoffs

Poor Elemental Sales Causes Layoffs

It’s never good to hear about game studios laying off staff, and we’ve certainly had our share of that recently. But you especially don’t want to see it happen to a studio that single-handedly proved you don’t need invasive DRM to top sales charts.

Stardock are behind the hits Galactic Civilisations 2, and Sins of a Solar Empire (developed by Ironclad) – both of which featured no form of CD copy protection, yet still reached the peak of PC retail sales charts despite a large number of digital sales.

Yet their newest game, Elemental: War of Magic, wasn’t as big a hit. Perhaps it’s due to not many knowing what the game is about – an at-first confusing mix of 4x and city-building gameplay. It could also be due to, as some users have said, the game’s quality. Or perhaps it’s just too damn close to the release of Civilisation V.

At any rate, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell confirmed on the Elemental Forums that layoffs were taking place:

Elemental’s revenue was anticipated to provide the revenue both for our main games team’s next project as well as a second team. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen so we’ve had to start laying people off.

Wardell is known for his honesty, and says he hopes that one day, when Stardock can afford it, the same people can be brought back on board.


  • would you want to come back when you know you’re expendable? When you’ll lose your job whenever the company gets in dire straits again?

    Sad to see this happen to stardock, I’m a big fan of their games and methods. Roll on Sins of a solar empire 2 (with a campaign plz). I’d happily give em another $70

    • Surely no one thinks they are indispensable. I know some people in this industry and they all know just how precarious their positions are (being in Adelaide probably helps that somewhat).

    • Particularly here in Aus, the games industry has been pretty volatile lately and the numbers of layoffs from various companies reflect that. Speaking as one who was made redundant a few months ago for very similar reasons (financial pressures meant necessary layoffs), I can say that most us would go back in a heartbeat if asked.

      In my own case I’d have to think about it just because I now have a family to support and I need stability. My family is the one and only thing that outweighs my desire to work on games again and particularly with the people I was working with. Otherwise, I’d jump at the chance without a second thought.

      Your point about being expendable is the nature of the game and happens in any business. I’ve had the same thing happen to me when working in retail and when I was doing Tech Support for Commodore (yes, *that* Commodore). In all cases, the people still working there were able to do more for the company than I was and I don’t blame them one bit (except in one case and that’s a whole other rant). Being amongst the most eligible to be made redundant doesn’t mean that when things pick up again you turn your nose up at them. If you were fortunate enough to have been doing a job you love (as I was on most occasions), you go back and try to do better next time so that if the decision has to be made again, you’re further up the priority list.

      • Btw, that “whole other rant” thing happened a coupla decades ago and refers to a company that collapsed not too long after. No one current 🙂

  • Well I know I was going to buy the game, but didn’t because I heard there so many bugs it made the game unplayable.
    However, the studio is releasing patches quite often, so I will pick it up a bit later when I think it is in working order.
    It does sound like awesome fun.

    • Yeah, same. I saw it and was like “ooh, cool” then read about the little launch fiasco and was like… “yeah… maybe later”

    • Release version was a bit rough, but I’ve played Elemental for 30+ hours now and while there are still some issues I’m finding it very playable and fun.

  • I was looking forward to this game the the reviews have been tearing it apart. I think I’d need to wait and see what (if any) patch does to fix some of the issues before laying down my hard earned.

  • The tragic thing is Im a huge gal civ fan but I didn’t even know this game was released. Sorry stardock but that’s probably the main issue right there.

  • Never played sins of a solar empire as it’s not really my kind of game, but it’s still kind of sad to hear about this – especially as these guys championed DRM-free games

  • The biggest problem was the game flew WAY under the radar for it’s entire development. Couple that with incredibly close proximity to games like Starcraft 2 and Civ 5, AND a bevy of negative reviews from users and reviewers alike, and it’s really no wonder this game failed in such a spectacular fashion.

    It’s sad really – I was following this game for 2 years and would have really liked for it to succeed. I’ll pick this up after a couple of major patches and updates happen.

    February would have been a much better date for a host of reasons.

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