Gamestop, Impulse and Stardock

By on March 31, 2011 8:58:17 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums External Link

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Here's a good article that goes into some detail on the Gamestop / Impulse / Stardock team up.

http://www.joystiq.com/2011/03/31/stardocks-brad-wardell-talks-about-selling-impulse-to-gamestop/

 

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March 31, 2011 9:23:02 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

If becoming a retailer was not the intent, then why allow other developers to sell through it? If becoming a retailer was not the intent, then the only other logical reason would be so Impulse could be sold off.

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March 31, 2011 9:31:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, I'm sure you got a good deal of money for it.  So you can use that money to finance a new game studio for Lord Xia game ideas!  I have a ton! 

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March 31, 2011 9:52:03 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Wardell said Stardock's games will stay exclusive on Impulse "for the foreseeable future."

 

So you're separating from Impulse.... but remaining exclusive to it? ...why?

 

User-bases aside, the simple fact is that gamers are rightfully skittish about trusting digital retailers. They will be VERY skittish about buying games on a service run by Gamestop, a retailer infamous for screwing its customers.  Why in the world would you stay exclusive when you have no incentive to do so?

 

The only reasoning I can figure is that it was part of the terms of the sale.

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March 31, 2011 9:54:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

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March 31, 2011 10:32:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Gwenio1,
If becoming a retailer was not the intent, then why allow other developers to sell through it? If becoming a retailer was not the intent, then the only other logical reason would be so Impulse could be sold off.
My understanding is that it was out of genuine altruism. He did it to help out others and the PC market as a whole. The fact that it was probably a relatively safe and easy way to grab a few extra bucks likely factored into the decision, but that doesn't mean that the decision was made because Brad wanted Stardock to become a retail company.

Quoting MOOMANiBE,

Wardell said Stardock's games will stay exclusive on Impulse "for the foreseeable future."


 

So you're separating from Impulse.... but remaining exclusive to it? ...why?

 

User-bases aside, the simple fact is that gamers are rightfully skittish about trusting digital retailers. They will be VERY skittish about buying games on a service run by Gamestop, a retailer infamous for screwing its customers.  Why in the world would you stay exclusive when you have no incentive to do so?

 

The only reasoning I can figure is that it was part of the terms of the sale.
I am pretty sure it means exclusive within the context of digital retailing - Stardock will keep using Impulse online but this doesn't effect their wide-release policy. Although if I recall correctly, Fallen Enchantress isn't slated for Wide Release at all.

In Digital Distribution, I'd imagine Stardock chooses to remain with Impulse now for the same reason they did previously: Because Impulse suits Stardock's needs in ways that Steam doesn't. If there were terms of sale involved in the Impulse deal that would have a lasting effect on how Stardock games work on Impulse, I imagine they'd be in Stardock's favor.

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March 31, 2011 10:40:47 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Not to mention that Stardock built Impulse and still has a vested interest in it continuing to succeed.  It would look horrible for Stardock if Gamestop destroyed something they built, as their name will still be attached to it indirectly.  If they started selling via Steam, it'd be like saying "Have this awesome software we built.  Now piss off."

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March 31, 2011 10:46:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We teamed up with Gamestop because we share a similar vision on where digital distribution is doing.  They've assembled a pretty amazing new unit over there to merge with Impulse.

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March 31, 2011 10:50:31 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

If they started selling via Steam, it'd be like saying "Have this awesome software we built.  Now piss off."

 

On the contrary, I don't think anyone would look down on them for broadening their user base now that they're officially independent of digital distro. They don't own it anymore, so it's not their responsibility anymore.

 

I'd imagine Stardock chooses to remain with Impulse now for the same reason they did previously: Because Impulse suits Stardock's needs in ways that Steam doesn't. If there were terms of sale involved in the Impulse deal that would have a lasting effect on how Stardock games work on Impulse, I imagine they'd be in Stardock's favor.

 

I think they're going to have to seriously consider weighing those needs against people's distaste for gamestop. The hardcore niche PC gamer crowd that made Impulse what it is tends to be the same crowd that's been burned by Gamestop and wants nothing to do with them.

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March 31, 2011 10:54:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If becoming a retailer was not the intent, then why allow other developers to sell through it? If becoming a retailer was not the intent, then the only other logical reason would be so Impulse could be sold off.

Why does Stardock write its own forum software? Why does Stardock run a blogging site? Why does Stardock own Neowin.net? Why does Stardock make skinning software?

We're a technology company. We like to make cool new tech. It's what we do. It's what we always have done.  We made Impulse to distribute our software and that of third parties to help ensure that there would be multiple channels for digitally distributing software.  

But the reality is, Impulse had become so successful and so big that in order to take it to the next step we would either have to commit to becoming a very different company than we are today or to find a partner who shared our vision of where we think this whole thing is going and team up. We chose the latter option.

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March 31, 2011 11:05:40 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

... And you chose a company that spits on PC gaming and whose whole business model depends on reselling used games that screws over publishers? The irony is overwhelming.

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March 31, 2011 11:06:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Admit it Brad,

You just really wanted to buy a really big white boat.

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April 1, 2011 12:12:43 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

So my question is, stardock and gamestop becoming partners, or did you sell outright to them? Do they own all of the rights to impulse?

I ask because i think that a partnership would have been a lot more logical, it would guarantee that impulse would still continue to see the same love and care that stardock put into. And if they did not do this you could take it back and sell it to someone who would...

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April 1, 2011 12:41:41 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Though Impulse will be completely separate from Stardock when the deal goes through, Wardell said Stardock's games will stay exclusive on Impulse "for the foreseeable future."

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April 1, 2011 12:45:46 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Cruxador,
My understanding is that it was out of genuine altruism. He did it to help out others and the PC market as a whole. The fact that it was probably a relatively safe and easy way to grab a few extra bucks likely factored into the decision, but that doesn't mean that the decision was made because Brad wanted Stardock to become a retail company.

Doing it for the good of PC gaming and intending to sell from the start are not mutually exclusive. And 1 - 2 = -1.

Quoting Frogboy,
Why does Stardock write its own forum software? Why does Stardock run a blogging site? Why does Stardock own Neowin.net? Why does Stardock make skinning software?

We're a technology company. We like to make cool new tech. It's what we do. It's what we always have done.  We made Impulse to distribute our software and that of third parties to help ensure that there would be multiple channels for digitally distributing software.  

But the reality is, Impulse had become so successful and so big that in order to take it to the next step we would either have to commit to becoming a very different company than we are today or to find a partner who shared our vision of where we think this whole thing is going and team up. We chose the latter option.

Then why not just create it as software solution for companies to set up there own digital distrobution? Less money, you could have created cool tech without having to choose between doing something the customers will not like and changing the company type. And sense you choose to lose the more profitable part of the business, it would seem that money is not that much of an issue as long as the product pays for itself.

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April 1, 2011 12:58:02 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

The other side of this is... what sort of deal occurred?  I mean seriously - consider you have something that is quite profitable in your hands.  If you hold onto it, you'll see solid revenue over the years. Boil it down.  If I have something that will make me PERSONALLY at least $100,000 annually with no end in sight, then I'd have to get some sort of compensation that makes up for that.  Obviously, there was a solid deal to be found here that would justify selling SD's most profitable arm.  And its quite possible that we'll see new investment in additional games/software.  Either Brad was blowing smoke in a few of the posts/recent interviews or he really wants to be able able to focus on other things.  At any rate, it should be quite obvious that more than a little money traded hands here.  The question is (outside of 3 new houses (I kid of course), where does that money go.  And that's up to Brad/any investor that might be involved in this.  Could go towards making future games/software AMAZING.  And I'd wager, SD will retain the rights to publish any games or software through impulse. 

So, they lose the revenue generated by impulse (getting a payday as a result or some deal where they share X profits) AND likely maintain the ability to digitally publish future games, etc.  Sounds like a win.  Anyway, wish I could see the actual agreement. 

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April 1, 2011 1:10:09 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

This was a transaction that the parties believed to be in their mutual interest.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Fundamental capitalism.  If the result is beneficial for gamers, there is icing on that cake, but nothing happens, ever, because of potential benefit to a third party.

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April 1, 2011 1:18:04 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I do understand why they sold it but I feel a bit apprehensive about it. Guess we will have to wait and see and hope we don't get another "steam".

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April 1, 2011 1:20:50 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Daiwa,
This was a transaction that the parties believed to be in their mutual interest.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Fundamental capitalism.  If the result is beneficial for gamers, there is icing on that cake, but nothing happens, ever, because of potential benefit to a third party.

Well... capitalism, yes.  Purchasing impulse is only beneficial if it rakes in additional revenue for gamestop (or enables them to compete with other retailers, even at a loss).  Will more games become available online as a result of the acquisition (and to be clear, I'm saying will a game that is NOT available online today anyway be available as a result of this deal)?  Probably not.  Will more games be available through impulse?  Probably so.  So, no real gain for anyone that purchases digitally outside of perhaps being able to have more of your mainsteam games being available via impulse (if that matters to you).  The gain is for Stardock and for gamestop.  For customers, not as much unless you decided a long time ago that you would only buy games digitally through impulse.  You'll probably be able to get more games through it as a result.  If you don't care about who provides your games digitally, then there is no impact to you and no benefit.

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April 1, 2011 1:41:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think Impulse was bought for the:

  • Brand and respect that goes with it
  • Knowledge and expertise

As opposed to reinventing the wheel, why not buy the wheel and then build the car around it? Small or medium size private companies can make gobs of money when they develop something the big boys want.

Now that we know what Brad has really been doing the past few months I'm hoping he has both the money and time to work on EWOM/FE AI - or hire his mini-me (or if he prefers, AI gopher) to do it for him.

Next week Brad will announce the gaming division is being sold to EA. I kid, I kid! I hope.

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April 1, 2011 1:54:09 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Well, I think we can all agree that at least it wasn't EA or Valve that bought Impulse, which would surely be a death sentence for it. However, we don't know for certain if GameStop will be the death of Impulse, we can only wait and see, I really hope that isn't the case.

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April 1, 2011 2:05:23 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

My best memory of Gamestop is when the counter guy was explaining why PlayStation 3 is superior to PC.

PlayStation 3 could play Blu-Rays!

I immediately did the Vulcan eyebrow lift of "you got to be kidding me"

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April 1, 2011 2:10:45 AM from PoliticalMachine Forums PoliticalMachine Forums

Well, I was suggesting that Microsoft use Impulse for GFWL, so this isn't that far off.

 

My concerns

a) If Gamestop screws over folks, what recourse will Stardock have?  You mentioned that your application side was staying separate, would/could you move your games , or at least your future products back there, should it become necessary?

  Is there anything in the contract  that would at least discourage Gamestop from changing the way Impulse operates in regards to DRM?  That's my main concern.

c) Is Stardock legally obligated to keep using Impulse no matter what?

 

I do think Brad is vastly underestimating the low reputation Gamestop has among many gamers.  I'm wary myself.  I just want to know I won't get screwed in the future.

 

I can see Impulse either becoming a legit competitor to Steam from this, or dying off completely, depending on what Gamestop does.

 

I also think you're going to need to get that disc printing for Elemental patches in the future up and running, because I am sure a good number of the most strident anti-DRMers will uninstall Impulse.   I won't unless Gamestop gets stupid, but I am wary myself.

 

I do expect you'll see more Impulse-exclusiives now down the road, which could help competition.

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April 1, 2011 2:35:56 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Let stardock do what they want. 

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April 1, 2011 2:40:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hrm.. Frogboy, I've understood most of what you have done over these years that I've been following Stardock.. So I'll go ahead and say it.. April Fools? Brad, you trolling us?

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April 1, 2011 2:43:19 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

It's legitimate.  I've confirmed it from both Frogboy and Phil Madis (the director of business development for Stardock); the surprise of the announcement was due to confidentiality agreements (NDAs). 

Additionally, the SEC would get ultra-pissed if this were a stunt.

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