Elemental title, Fallen Enchantress It's "name is tarnished" he admits, because the original was a "mediocre game."
The Galactic Civilizations developer knows they dropped the ball with War of Magic in 2010, and Wardell feels so strongly about this he's offering either a discount on Fallen Enchantress, or a free copy depending on when you bought the game.
The best method for the PC developer to make it up to fans though is to throw everything behind this new game. "From a business perspective, what we're doing is really dumb," admitted the Stardock boss. "For starters, the Elemental name is tarnished because War of Magic was a mediocre game. So why make an excellent game that has that baggage?"
"The reason is that I feel there's a principle involved. Stardock makes good games. I know people don't like Metacritic, but our averaged Metacritic score is one of the highest in the industry, and we put out what was arguably a stinker, and so we have a duty to our fans to make good on that."
Wardell recognises it's got quite the battle to prove Elemental isn't a toxic series given the reception of the first game. Tanking an IP with its very first instalment is super bad news for a developer.
"Even though we're going to take a black eye in terms of the inevitable comparisons, it's really about those people who trusted us to make an outstanding fantasy game -- we're going to deliver that to them," he said.
Such is the responsibility they feel they have to fans for disappointing them that Elemental: Fallen Enchantress will be free for anyone who bought War of Magic in 2010, and discounted if you bought it any time afterwards. Fan support saved Stardock in the 1990s.
The developer had to switch over from OS/2 to Windows in those crazy days and they weren't prepared. "We had to switch to Windows, and it would take about two years to make new stuff. We only survived because we told people what we were going to put out, and people pre-ordered it sight-unseen because they trusted us."
"That's the only reason we survived that transition," he recounts. "Because of that, we feel we owe our audience, we owe them the assurance that if they give us their hard-earned money, then we owe them a really good product. We've all worked hard for our great reputation, and this is our chance to make good on that."
Were you left crushingly disappointed with Stardock's Elemental: War of Magic, videogamer?
Stardock giving away new game for free - "we feel we owe our audience"
30 March 2012 | By Simon Priest