Confirmed: Layoffs Hit Stardock After Elemental's "Disastrous Launch" [Updated]

By Brian Leahy, Sep 03, 2010 7:25pm PDT

[Update 10:30pm] Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has confirmed the layoffs in a forum post, attributing the cuts to Elemental's updated revenue projections following its launch.

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

"No one involved on the core components of Elemental is affected," he continues. "It would be great if we can bring as many of these people back over time if the studio can afford it."

Brad notes that this is the first time the company has had to lay anyone off since 1998 after migrating from the OS/2 market to Windows.

[Original Story] Shacknews has received an anonymous tip claiming that several employees of Stardock, developers of the recently released Elemental: War of Magic were let go today in a round of layoffs.

Those let go included developers, designers, and salespeople working on Elemental. The tipster, supposedly one of those laid off, claims that the layoffs were due to Elemental's "disastrous launch". Though post-launch layoffs are common in this industry, it sounds like these cuts were due to the game's launch and reception.

Stardock CEO Bard Wardell, posting while on his post-launch sabbatical, discusses the "completeness of Stardock's fail on Elementa's launch" and alluded to "massive consequences for Stardock's game studio."

The employees were reportedly notified by Stardock management, as Brad is away from the office. Shacknews has contacted Stardock to ascertain the validity of these statements.

Our write-up on the game can be found here.

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See All Comments | 29 Threads | 200 Comments
  • "Elemental's success doesn't impact whether Stardock will be doing new games or expansions to Elemental. It does, however, impact whether Stardock can afford to have a second games team. Our objective was to be able to develop two games at once. That goal will have to be postponed."

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 2 replies.

    • And some follow-up comments:

      "For the record (since I saw some rather disgusting comments on the Shack thread) the financial projections for Elemental occurred while I was out of town along with the projected budget revisions. Upon determining our initial course of action, I ended my vacation early -- as my journal makes clear. It should also be emphasized that no one was fired. I've had to let go many people over the years and as anyone who has ever been in that position can tell you, there is a world of difference between terminating someone and laying them off.

      Running a business is a difficult challenge. I've been doing it for almost 20 years now. Good decisions can create jobs and bad decisions can destroy jobs. Right now, my focus has to be to save as many jobs as possible over the coming weeks so that we can most effectively support our customers and remain a financially sound enterprise in the long-run.

      Making sure Elemental becomes the outstanding game it has the potential to be isn't just a matter of principle or ethics but of sound business. Loyal customers are the bedrock of any small company. You do not abandon them. Ever."

      "No. One involves severance packages and the other does not. One involves being able to draw unemployment, the other does not.

      I agree with you that it sucks whenever someone loses their job. It's soul crushing to have to downsize staff, especially after we all worked so hard. And I agree it's not fair. Not fair at all.

      Over the years, especially during the transition from OS/2 to Windows, I've had to lay people off. And it's never fair. Back in the late 90s I had to lay off a very close friend of mine who was brilliant at his job. He'd done nothing wrong. I had made the mistake of staying with OS/2 long after it should have (in hindsight) been obvious that OS/2 was dying and my friend lost his job as a result.

      The people we've laid off did nothing wrong either. A DB manager, A receptionist, A QA tester, a developer, a designer, a sales executive and a web designer. I know each and every one of them. Each one is a great person, a hard worker, an outstanding employee that any company would be lucky to have. And I wish I could say this was going to be the end of it but it isn't and everyone here at work nows it and it sucks.

      Having a business is great sometimes and awful other times. This is one of those hard times where you're in the shitty position of having to decide which people you can keep and which people to lay off. The main casualty will ultimately be the second game's team that we were hoping Elemental would be able to fund."

      "This is really bizarre on many levels. I wasn't aware that Stardock had investors (outside of me) and have to wonder what this "source" thinks paid for Elemental in the first place (oh wait, the "investors"). I'm skeptical that this person is connected to Stardock. Joystiq should be careful with this kind of thing - not to mention, I can't imagine anyone from Stardock (present or former employee) would behave in that way. "