After a reader complained that a computer game he downloaded from Stardock was broken, company president and CEO Brad Wardell refunded the money but said the problem was probably caused by a fan-created patch.
We showed Wardell a forum that indicates Stardock was indeed selling a busted game, and he says he did some research, discovered the forum posters were correct, and now says the company will refund the purchases and make it sells the correct version.
The publisher continues to maintain that this is the latest version of the game and that it is working as intended. However, it is our determination that the users are correct and that when the game was re-released without Securom years ago through various channels that it triggered this issue.
We followed up with Enlight this morning with the option of having the game pulled from Impulse and its customers refunded or allowing us to integrate the fan made update that addresses this issue. Enlight gave us the green light to update the game on Impulse and we will then contact all its users to make sure they are aware of the update.
Should the Impulse staff have taken the issue higher up the chain? In hindsight, I would say yes. However, the problem here is that there are thousands of games and every forum has users claiming that a given game is “broken.” Does that mean that this isn’t a big screwup? Obviously it is.
On the one hand, you have a publisher saying that we have the latest version of their award-winning game that is working as intended and on the other hand a handful of posts in the forum having problems and that the game is working.
Impulse, like other retailers, assumes that the titles it receives work as designed. We put them through QA to make sure they run.
My contention is the problem here is that someone at Impulse or Stardock could have simply loaded up the game on Windows XP and seen if this was a legitimate issue or not. The counter, however, is that with thousands of games available, the publisher insisting after multiple queries that the game is fine and very few complaints that it is the role of the publisher or game developer to follow-up, not the retailer.
As we have seen with incidents like this on other services, this is going to be an on-going challenge with older titles. My view is that this incident demonstrates the need for older titles to get more scrutiny.
Kudos to Wardell for admitting his company’s fault here and doing the right thing, even though it took some prodding.