d) This is the part you might not like. You're going to have to eat short-term profitability on this, in order to help in the long-term.
You'll need to be aggressive on discounting once you can. (I understand you can't right now)
That said, the expansion. It needs to be a stand-alone game, with a bug-free, very generous demo out a month before release. Maybe even full game esque. The burden of proof is right now, (fairly or not), on you guys to prove you can have a solid launch. Showing the world what a year of your support can do for a game will restore your reputation (which is tarnished outside of here right now)
The downside is the fans who stuck it out will feel screwed over a bit, (I'm one of those fans) , but I think most of us would be ok with that , given the circumstances. Maybe give us the expansion at a discount based on when we pre-ordered elemental, or a loyalty bonus on Impulse when we get it? (not DLC, but a credit to use on other things)
I'm going to disagree with this. If you discount a week after release, what you're going to do is annoy people who bought the game in the first week. That just reinforces the "don't buy Stardock games at launch" perception.
Look at what happened to Star Trek Online when they pulled that stunt. They still haven't lived down the negative reaction. Everybody knows game discounts happen, but they don't happen this fast.
What they *could* do is offer up a DLC coupon to people who bought already or some such. You want to give the perception of increasing value rather then decreasing it.
e) Learn from your mistakes and don't rush future titles, even if it seems to make business sense at the time. It bites you back tenfold.
I never thought I'd be trying to tell a millionare how to run his business, but I'm trying to look at things from a cold, business side, not my gamer side. As a gamer, I'd be willing to hand over my money- I know I won't regret this ride. However, I know I got a minority opinion, and the Joe Average gamer right now- he's writing you guys off. I'm worried about the long-term damage that could happen, and how it would mean lower budgets for SD titles in the future, and less ambitious future projects- such as GC3. (I am motivated by self-interest here)
This, I agree with. In the past Brad had said that making games is 95% engine and 5% game. We've seen now what happens with 5% game.
What it needs to be is more like 85% engine, 5% game, 10% game polish & tweaking. We really needed a public beta 5 that didn't happen, where the full game was assembled and it was just "how does it play in the late game?" type questions.
Stardock's reputation for supporting games after release is good, and they deserve it. But they're also building a reputation for not polishing games BEFORE release, and that really can't happen again.
(On the upside for GC3, if they use Elemental's engine they'll no doubt have the kinks worked out by then and it'll save an awful lot of grief.)