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Stardock in Talks With GameStop Over Broken Demigod Street Date

Stardock CEO Brad Wardell tells Gamasutra he's "very unhappy" over a retail snafu that saw the premature release of Demigod at major U.S. speciality retailer GameStop.
Last week, leading retailer GameStop released Demigod, a PC real-time strategy game developed by Gas Powered Games and published by Stardock. The problem is that the game wasn't supposed to release until this week. "We're still discussing with [GameStop] how exactly this happened. Obviously we're very unhappy, as it has made getting online connectivity going a lot tougher than expected," Brad Wardell, Stardock CEO told Gamasutra. Broken street dates are nothing new, but in a forum post, Wardell gave an inside glimpse as to how GameStop's move affected the game's support team, who ended up having to work over the Easter weekend after "a good solid eight weeks of massive crunch." He added, "...We were looking forward to the weekend to recover. Instead, we found ourselves back at work having to turn on and configure the multiplayer matchmaking servers (we had enough for a beta, but not for thousands of people)." Wardell also claimed that piracy of the copy protection-free Demigod has been "maximized" because of the purported slip-up. But the chief exec says he'll be watching sales closely to find evidence of his theory that few sales are lost to piracy. Wardell has been outspoken against copy protection methods that he classifies as "obnoxious." GameStop did not return requests for comment. Some Internet-goers are speculating that GameStop purposely released Demigod to retail early to counter Stardock's own digital release on its Impulse digital distribution service, although there is no clear evidence of such a conspiracy. Stardock opted to release the game on Impulse a day early on Monday in the wake of the GameStop situation. "There have been plenty of discussions about whether Gamestop did this intentionally or not which I won’t go into here," stated Wardell in his forum post. Wardell also told Gamasutra, "We are hoping sales [of Demigod] will meet or exceed what we saw with Sins of a Solar Empire," an Ironclad-developed strategy game published by Stardock which grossed $8 million as of GDC, "but it's too soon to tell really."

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