I don’t like monopolies, especially ourselves

By on March 18, 2010 2:19:15 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Back a few years ago, more than one person remarked how odd it was that Stardock hosted (for free) its primary competitor in the Windows desktop theming world (Samurize). It competed (and still does but the market has changed quite a bit since Windows Vista came out) with DesktopX.  Why would we do that? 

My answer was: I don’t like monopolies, especially ourselves. 

When we were designing up the specifications for Impulse::Reactor, there was much debate over whether it should require the inclusion of the Impulse store or require the creation of Impulse store accounts.  I was adamant that it shouldn’t because the job of Impulse::Reactor isn’t to replace Steamworks with something that’s just as exclusive. On the contrary, I don’t want Impulse to dominate. I don’t want Steam to dominate or any of the others either.  In the past couple of years, I’ve seen enough of the sausage factory that is the game industry to know that you definitely do not want anyone having leverage over publishers or consumers.

If your motivation is to create excellent things, you want competition. If you’re a consumer, you want competition for your dollars.

No matter how wonderful a thing is when it starts out, the end behavior is inevitably the same once they have leverage. The solution is to prevent anyone from ever having a monopoly in the first place.

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March 18, 2010 2:22:33 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I your philospohy! 

 

I wonder if Steam is trying to get an anti-trust lawsuit slapped against it...

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March 18, 2010 2:53:39 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Doesn't this fly in the face of conventional business logic? You should want to establish a legal monopoly with low barriers to entry and high barriers to exit. Stardock turns this on its head and provides a distribution channel for its competitors? This is so contrary to the prevailing wisdom that consumers are dazed and confused.

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March 18, 2010 3:48:20 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Well, it seems to me Brad Wardell recognizes what makes the free market so successful, high levels of competition.  I like this move on his part.

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March 18, 2010 3:58:48 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting djcityscapes,
Doesn't this fly in the face of conventional business logic? You should want to establish a legal monopoly with low barriers to entry and high barriers to exit. Stardock turns this on its head and provides a distribution channel for its competitors? This is so contrary to the prevailing wisdom that consumers are dazed and confused.

If you want a purely profitable buisness, then you're correct. However, Brad wants to provide a quality product and you do that by competing with other people. No competition = no reason to create good products.

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March 18, 2010 4:08:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

From a biological point of view, diversity is good (survival, adaptation, improvement...).

I hope that Impulse::Reactor gets the attention it deserves. Especially kick the ass of Steamworks. Nothing like to have a preorder cancelled (not by my choice) in Impulse because some publisher decided in the "last minute" that they were to use Steamworks.

Did I say that I fear for Alpha Protocol? Who should I contact in Stardock to provide incentives for figthing for a release of that game out of the Steam trap? Even if the region thing doesn't allow to buy it in Impulse, I could still buy the retail version.

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March 18, 2010 4:25:52 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

You could argue that monopolies only increase their own profits in the short-term.  Once a monopoly is established, it has no incentive to improve itself, either by increasing revenue or by decreasing expenses.  Thus, it loses the opportunity cost/benefit of efficiency gains over time.  It becomes a cash cow, but never really grows.  The source of real wealth in capitalism is all based around growth, and not a stagnant company that nets $x in profits year-over-year-over-year.

Plus, when a competitor does come out, monopolies tend to get squashed if they don't buy their way out of the problem (which further reduces profits...).

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March 18, 2010 5:12:44 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Yeah, I mean if you don't have that community card its really annoying, you might even go to jail - then you can't pass go and you can't collect £200.

umm... I think Im doing this wrong.

 

What I hate is where one company offers "THIS FEATURE" and the other company offers "THAT FEATURE". I want BOTH features. Both, the one who does both the best should get my money. Not get it by forcing people to have an arkward experince as they lack something they want but there is no alternative.

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March 18, 2010 8:50:29 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Brad Wardell is the John Mackey of software.

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March 19, 2010 11:22:07 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Ynglaur,
You could argue that monopolies only increase their own profits in the short-term.  Once a monopoly is established, it has no incentive to improve itself, either by increasing revenue or by decreasing expenses.  Thus, it loses the opportunity cost/benefit of efficiency gains over time.  It becomes a cash cow, but never really grows.  The source of real wealth in capitalism is all based around growth, and not a stagnant company that nets $x in profits year-over-year-over-year.

I agree. Speaking from the profit & loss perspective, the goal should be to maximize shareholder's value. Participating in a highly competitive market results in razor-thin profit margins. Aiding the competition is business suicide in such a market. I don't know how Frogboy gets away with it.

The consumer's perspective is different. Obviously, as a gamer I want the best game for the best price. Frogboy's goal is geared towards us. Apparently he doesn't answer to a board of directors.

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March 19, 2010 11:47:30 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Speaking from the profit & loss perspective, the goal should be to maximize shareholder's value.... I don't know how Frogboy gets away with it.

Private corporation.

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March 19, 2010 12:06:54 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting djcityscapes,

Apparently he doesn't answer to a board of directors.

Nope. Stardock is completely private.

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March 19, 2010 12:23:28 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

So, does that mean that we will see games that use SteamWorks like MW2 and more recent games here?

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March 19, 2010 1:30:44 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Stardock is run pretty close to, say, the COBRA or VENOM model. Totaly private, no outside influence, run by insane people and always trying to take over the world.

 

I think...

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March 19, 2010 1:56:37 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Aractain, I for one welcome my new frog-like overlord.  All of you should do the same.

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March 19, 2010 2:08:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

In 1841, Babington Macaulay MP gave a speech to the house of commons. It was about extending the length of time a publisher could hold a monopoly on his books. One of my favourite quotes is the following exert:

"Sir, that I may with safety take it for granted that the effect of monopoly generally is to make articles scarce, to make them dear, and to make them bad."

I'm rather pleased to hear Stardock take this stance.

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March 19, 2010 3:20:41 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Quoting Aractain,
Stardock is run pretty close to, say, the COBRA or VENOM model. Totaly private, no outside influence, run by insane people and always trying to take over the world.

 

I think...

 

If Brad's Cobra Comander, I want pics of Stardock's Baroness!

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March 19, 2010 3:32:19 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I'll have to admit: this is so foreign to me that my brain sorta boggles at it. It'd be one thing if Stardock was an OSS outfit, but since its not? Wow... this is a shock of sorts.

Bravo! Now, let me go sit down while my brain tries to reconcile all this

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March 19, 2010 3:48:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So, does that mean that we will see games that use SteamWorks like MW2 and more recent games here?

No, that would be aiding the creation of a monopoly.

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March 19, 2010 4:12:56 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

As side note,, for me at least, showing some sort of "support" for the competition seems more..."honourable" than just shovelling dirt in their faces.

"Beau geste", if you will

I had a mental picture of that: a bunch of Victorian gentlemen sitting in a salon, Stardock and Samurize are having an argument, little tension, but polite.

 

 

 

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March 20, 2010 2:08:25 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

It all depends on what your personal motivations are.

For me, I am passionate about the pursuit of excellence. When I see it, it makes me happy.  That's why I love Blizzard's games and Valve's games and Bioware and so on because they are excellent.

Similarly, if I see excellence but it's struggling because they don't have resources, I am inclined to help them even if they're competing with us as is the case with Samurize.

Or another example, Stardock is the largest owner of Neowin.net.  It is the primary place for promoting and distributing uxtheme patches and msstyles files -- the principle competitor for WindowBlinds one of our key products.

Competition makes us better and my objective is to always try to get better.

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March 20, 2010 3:45:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

i wouldn't mind if stardock was the the ruleing goverment of the entire world.

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March 20, 2010 8:16:40 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

In the case of a private company without a profit maximising motive, the company can still get competition/into trouble due to fierce competition from other developing firms which do follow profit maximising goals and as a result have the retained earnings to invest in new design/technologies.

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March 20, 2010 2:35:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Related arcticle about Steam's almost monopoly:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_245/7285-Steam-A-Monopoly-In-the-Making

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March 23, 2010 5:58:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting SpardaSon21,
Aractain, I for one welcome my new frog-like overlord.  All of you should do the same.

 

Sammual

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March 24, 2010 1:45:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
It all depends on what your personal motivations are.

For me, I am passionate about the pursuit of excellence. When I see it, it makes me happy.  That's why I love Blizzard's games and Valve's games and Bioware and so on because they are excellent.

Similarly, if I see excellence but it's struggling because they don't have resources, I am inclined to help them even if they're competing with us as is the case with Samurize.

Or another example, Stardock is the largest owner of Neowin.net.  It is the primary place for promoting and distributing uxtheme patches and msstyles files -- the principle competitor for WindowBlinds one of our key products.

Competition makes us better and my objective is to always try to get better.

This is the "right" approach to take if you ask me.  You just brought up 3 companies(Blizzard to a lesser extent IMO) who have those same motivations as you do.  Competition is good I agree, but more importantly is focusing on your own style, continue evolving that style, and above all executing your final product(Bizzard, Bioware, Valve).  I see a lot of great ideas from game companies and the majority of them end up falling flat because the final product flat out sucks.  I definately think Stardock is on the right path to success.  You guys have already "proven" you can make a game.  It's all about continuing to use your creative noggin .

 

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