Stardock's standalone RTS expansion Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation [official site] is no longer an expandalone. Three months after launching Escalation, Stardock have rolled the original Ashes of the Singularity and Escalation into one game and pulled the original from sale. Having them separate was splitting the community, Stardock say. Better to realise that late than never. If you owned either of 'em, hooray! You now own both. If you bought both, well, you still have both (in one) and also a year of free DLC.
Ashes of the Singularity left early access to properly launch in March 2016, then Escalation followed as a standalone expansion in November 2016. Splitting the community seem an entirely predictable outcome of that but here we are.
Starlord Brad Wardell explained in Thursday's announcement that Stardock had thought Ashes' high hardware requirements would give it pretty niche appeal, so they tried not to make it too hardcore an RTS. When it sold better than expected and players kept asking for features like megazoom and gobs more units, they thought an expandalone would be the way to add those. Which split the community.
"Coming from the software side, having a standard and a Pro version of your product isn't a big deal. But in the gaming world, especially recently, it is a big problem and one that has proven impossible for us to bridge.
"For example, even if we solved the multiplayer community fragmentation, what about modding? What about community discussions on strategy and tactics? What about future expansions?
"Hence, I have decided to merge Ashes of the Singularity and Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation into a single product: Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation. We will update the game to have a "simplified rules" option for those who do preferred the more streamlined game mechanics and unit types (anyone who has ever tried to get a LAN party going with an RTS knows what I mean) but going forward, Escalation is the only version of the game."
So all Ashers get Escalation. Folks who bought the base game get to keep it, though no one can buy it separate now. As for folks who own both games -- who did get a $20 discount when buying Escalation -- Wardell says they will get "all new DLC we release for the game this year" for free.
Stardock have been big into expandalones with their strategy games in recent years, with other releases including Sorcerer King: Rivals, Fallen Ennchantress: Legendary Heroes, and Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. It does seem they're moving away from 'em, mind. The upcoming Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade will be DLC rather than an expandalone, which Brad Wardell doesn't sound wholly pleased with.
"It will be handled as a DLC mainly because people threw a fit when we made the Ashes of the Singularity expansion a stand-alone and we don't want to go through that again," Wardell said in December. "So we'll figure out some way to take what is, essentially, a new game and make it DLC."