Stardock talks staying afloat in The Great Lakes State

News of PC game publisher and developer Stardock's plans to expand further into its home state of Michigan was a bright light in what has been an otherwise gloomy series of months, seeing numerous studios crippled by an ongoing tepid economic climate. We asked ourselves if it was something in the water, though to hear Stardock boss Brad Wardell talk, we wonder if more studios may someday begin to follow suit and swim to The Great Lakes State.

"I definitely see the state of Michigan moving in a direction to try to attract technology companies and consumer entertainment companies – movie studios, interactive digital entertainment, etc," noted the exec. "One of the reason I suspect is simple geography -- Michigan is located in a pretty good spot for this kind of thing. The other is that Michigan is a state in transition. The state knows that it needs to diversify and it is putting its efforts to focus on an area ripe for growth such as digital entertainment."

Michigan is already home to a handful of developers, including Reactor Zero, which is handling the PC version of THQ's upcoming Red Faction: Guerrilla, and Realm Online dev Norseman Games. None, however, have left a footprint in the snow nearly as deep as Stardock.

It's an impression that looks to only going to deepen with the opening of the new studio, though Wardell confesses that key to this is "a combination of build out -- short term -- and recruiting the right people."

"We're pretty known for doing a lot with relatively little and we want to keep it that way. Stardock, despite having over 60 full-time employees, has virtually no turn-over which is not by accident. We are very careful in who we hire and that tends to result in a longer ramp up time. But we're definitely looking to get going pretty quickly once the build out of the space is complete." He expects the space, which occupies another floor in the company's building, to be fully up and going sometime in late Summer.

Interestingly, he tells us that the new studio will be "dedicated to RPG creation," giving Stardock one studio making strategy games such as Galactic Civilizations, and another focused on hit points with titles such as Elemental: War of Magic and Stardock's pre-medieval MMORTS, Society.

The one constant thread, however, is that both will remain focused on PC game development, for the time being at least. "The company will continue to be PC focused but we're always open to expanding onto consoles if the particular project makes sense for that," Wardell said. Still, it's unlikely that the company will ever turn its back on the PC market. Wrapping up, he offered that whatever the future brings Stardock, it doesn't have any plans to target consoles as its "primary platform."