Quoting solidsmooky, reply 52Wow, firing some of your employees while you're on vacation. Haha, thats cold as hell, man.
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.
I hope you've known me enough around these forums and IRC to know that I'm not trying to spew off haterade for any of this, but this is the reality of the matter, from what I've seen outside of Stardock- and I've been labelled a "Stardock apologist" on one of these forums. If this comes off as rude here, I apolgize in advance, but this is how I see things right now, as one of your loyal customers.
To be blunt here, your actions of the past few weeks have been a PR disaster, and it did look like you fired them from your vacation house for your mistakes- and that doesn't sit over too well with Americans in general right now, even though it wasn't the case. With the economy suffering and many young people out of jobs, you look like one of the bad guys to them. There's also been complaints about the refunding- that you're only offering 75% to folks hassle-free- which isn't helping. I understand why you doing this, and in other cases it would make sense, but with this plus the appearance of rushing out the game , it appeared to folks that you had reneged on the GBOR- and you looked like a hypocrite.
Quite honestly- Stardock's reputation has hit bottom among folks who aren't your loyal customers. While I hope you can win them back, and if you do your part I will do mine- as I am a fan of yours still, it's going to be VERY hard- possibly the hardest thing you've done since 1998. That said, from what I've seen from your statements, you know this and are going to do your best for it. I've seen a few people mention that they'll look at the game again when it's ready.
My suggested actions:
First off, no more hassles on refunds, and I'd suggest the people you gave 75% refunds to- give them the game reg back, let them update until XP1, and let them know that you'll give them the other 25% then if they don't like it. They don't get the XP for free though. That may be too generous, but I think it's a net profit idea- you're not going to ever make money off the 75% again otherwise.
Even though this appear to screw over some of the long-term customers like myself, I think a stand-alone release of your 2nd XP as Elemental 2 might be a good idea. I think most of us by that point will feel like we got enough value that we'll understand and re-buy. The positive reviews of a polished product is the one thing that will wipe away what happened- and that's the safest way to do it.
There is some misinformation out there, one of my friend's livejournal posts said you had fired the entire Elemental team, and was sad for them. (He thinks the game is decent though the AI sucks)
Ultimately, what I want you to do, is to make stuff I want to buy, or in Elemental's case- make what I bought worth what I paid for it. This is how capitalism works . If SD hasn't earned the reputation it had from me with GC2 and even GC1, a game which got me through tech school in the AF, I would probably be asking for a refund myself. You've earned a second chance from me, and you're using it now.
It's going to be a tough slog, and you dug a pretty large for yourself, but it's not impossible. You've bounced back from the brink once- and I think you can do it again.