‘Sins Of A Solar Empire’ Shows ‘Spore’ How It Should Be Done
It’s been oer 10 years since the talented programming boys and girls at EA started work on Spore, and the game finally hit shelves this week. But all is not good, as a huge hubbub surrounding the game’s highly restrictive DRM has arisen causing people the world over to hold off buying the game, even causing a stir in the mainstream press.
But amongst the madness surrounding Spore‘s release, another much humbler RTS game has been attracting a lot of attention too. It’s called Sins Of A Solar Empire, and the game’s developers have famously decided to eschew any copy protection at all, arguing that it would only alienate their customer base. Brad Wardell, CEO of the game’s publisher, Stardock, had this to say on the issue:
The reason why we don’t put CD copy protection on our games isn’t because we’re nice guys. We do it because the people who actually buy games don’t like to mess with it. Our customers make the rules, not the pirates. Pirates don’t count. We know our customers could pirate our games if they want but choose to support our efforts. So we return the favor – we make the games they want and deliver them how they want it. This is also known as operating like every other industry outside the PC game industry.
The result? The little-known RTS from the even littler-known publisher has sold over 500,000 copies since its release in February. Considering the game cost less than $1 million to develop, I’d say that their strategy paid off.
What’s even stranger about this decision is that, other than the cult hit Galactic Civilisations games, Stardock’s best known product is a themeing system for Windows called WindowBlinds – probably one of the most pirated pieces of software I’ve ever come across.
Finally, it’d be biased of me not to mention that Wardell also attributes the game’s sales success to its relatively low system requirements. But I’m pretty sure that he, I, and over half a million other gamers out there know that giving your customers what they want and not messing them about and making their lives difficult in the process is exactly what it took for a little-known desktop apps company to really excel in the tough PC gaming market.