After having read both Frogboy's post on the thread about Elemental's launch status and on Shacknews' rumor, I feel I have to say a few things.
First of all, I have sympathy for Stardock and Frogboy. Brad can't have been the only one who saw no flaws in the wonderful baby ("It burps! How cute!"). Then to have it kicked and screamed at when shown to the world. ("Ewww! Kill it!").
I also note that it has very few critic reviews. (4 listed on Metacritic, none of which give it high scores.) I think, or hope, a lot of reviewers are doing it a favor that way, because they wait with a review until a review would say something of what you'll actually get. Unfortunately, that means that initial impressions are going to be very negative in general. Stardock's forum presence, and Frogboy's, is virtually unique and does help build up a very favorable customer group. Or fans. Depending on how you want to call it. But Stardock in general is often coming off as one of, if not the, most principled developer(s). THe problem then, of course, is that people tend to aim at the guy on the high horse.
But the launch was disastrous in two respects. First, very bad publicity for the game, and secondly, it showed (certainly to Brad) that internal routines failed. The latter is not really my business, it's something Stardock must work out. The bad publicity for the game is a done deal; it can't be undone. I suspect there must be a relaunch of sorts combined with a meaty update, to underline that, it's worthy of a second look now.
Because it will be; right now, even, it's somewhere it could have been launched without the same reaction... there would still be complaints, but right now, it's playable. Not as in 'well, I guess it's POSSIBLE to play it', but it's fun - you CAN build an empire, and you can have fun doing it, and it is occassionally challenging. But it's not the favourite game I play all week (even if I put the occassional day into it).
I think Stardock is not in TROUBLE, but it is not going to be a time for wild parties either. It's sad that they had to cancel a game development plan, I'd love to see what that was, but as long as they have a steady revenue - which they do- that's better than risking the company on a gamble.