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Grins of a Solar Empire

This’ll make you feel all fuzzy-warm inside. Sins Of A Solar Empire, Stardock’s mighty, but somewhat under-the-radar, space RTS, was the second-best selling PC game in February, according to omni-analysts NPD.

Yeah, we already knew it was doing well. Nonetheless, it looks really strange in there, coolly trumping all yer chart-mainstay Warcrafts and Simses and Orange Boxes – it’s like seeing Art Brut on Top of the Pops.

Stardock reckon that’s only half the story, as NPD doesn’t include digital downloads – which constitute “most sales of Sins of a Solar Empire thus far”, apparently – nor does it include copies bought in Walmart. “Unofficial tallies we’ve received internally put Sins at #1,” they say. Good work, those men.
As well as big-money-happy-fun-time, it’s a huge, phlegmy spit in the eye of the piracy-is-killing-PC-gaming camp, as this is a game that famously ships with absolutely zero copy protection. Of course, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell pre-emptively suggested why he thinks Sins has proved so successful despite/because of this (and also despite minimal media coverage) in a lengthy, fascinating blog post last week (you’ve probably also already read our Kieron’s follow-up thoughts on it.)

It’s fascinating to see Wardell’s business theories (in short, ‘know your audience’) apparently play out exactly as he planned. The question is, will other parts of the games industry now sit up and take notice? Or does their tried-and-tested tactic of Cool-Looking Men With Guns remain too safe a money-spinner, no matter that the audience interested in such titles seems more piracy-prone than the carefully-targeted customer base for a complicated strategy game? Indeed, taking a quick gander at A Leading Torrent site, about 500 people are currently leeching Sins, while around 2000 are grabbing Call of Duty 4, NPD’s official February number 1 (but unofficial number 2, if Stardock’s estimates are correct). Interesting times.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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