When Stardock's Galactic Civilizations II was being released last February, it was expected to do solid numbers for an independently developed and published PC game title. No one expected that the game would become a best-selling game, selling out of two manufacturing runs. With the game getting both praise and high sales figures, FiringSquad went to Stardock head man Brad Wardell to find out more about the future of the series, their upcoming MMORPG Society, PC gaming in general, and that Starforce message board incident.
FiringSquad: First, Galactic Civilizations 2 has been a major seller for Stardock and also gotten positive press from the critics. Are the results what you expected or were you surprised by the amount of attention the game has received?
We were not anticipating anywhere near the sales levels we've seen. Our projections were essentially to do about 30% to 50% more sales than the original. But in the first 10 days, we've shipped more units than the original has sold in its entire lifetime.
FiringSquad: The game is selling well in retail stores but you also offer the game via paid download. Can you comment on how the download sales of the game are doing versus the retail sales?
On Galactic Civilizations 1, the ratio was approximately 10 to 1. That is, 10 retail sales for every electronic version. This time around it's closer to 7 to 1.
FiringSquad: Do you see a time where downloads of PC games will be more popular than buying a boxed copy at a retail store?
No. Not anytime soon anyway. Most people still prefer to purchase their games at a store.
FiringSquad: Stardock spend a lot of money marketing the game, with big ads in game magazines and hiring an outside PR firm for the title as well. How did the marketing budget affect the overall development of the game?
Well we made some mistakes there. For instance, it's amazing how long a dated screenshot will stick around. I've seen news items on GalCiv II with screenshots from early last year. Oye. So in future games, we'll be more attentive to having the art assets be done sooner.
FiringSquad: What can we expect in terms of upcoming free updates to Galactic Civilizations II?
We're currently working on v1.1. There's a lot of new stuff in there such as random opponents, randomized intelligence levels based on an overall difficulty level, more ship design goodies, updated AI, and lots of gameplay tweaks.
FiringSquad: Are there any plans for a paid expansion pack in the works?
We do have one on the drawing board called Dark Avatar (Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar). In it, the player will take on the role of the evil guy for a change -- play as the leader of a clan of the Drengin Empire.
FiringSquad: Can you comment at this time about a possible Galactic Civilizations III?
Oh that'll be a long time from now. We have the features and story for it in mind but you're talking some years from now. We need to build up our development team further before tackling that. ;)
FiringSquad: Can you give us an update on Stardock's other game projects, such as your upcoming free MMORPG?
Society is coming along. We're stretched a bit thin right now which we're addressing by aggressively hiring more developers. The free version will probably lag the premium version by a little bit since the game engines are different (Society is being designed to be very cross-platform so each client is a front end to their society).