Stardock has ditched boxed releases of its games after Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion set sales records for the company.
The PC tactical strategy space combat game is the fastest-selling title in the company's history, having sold over 100,000 units since its launch last month. It was the first not released at retail, too, and instead did the business via Steam, GameStop and direct from Stardock. Steam sales in the first 30 days beat the combined sell-through of all physical retailers during the same period for the original Sins of a Solar Empire.
Stardock boss Brad Wardell said: "When we combine our direct sales of Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion with the sales from GameStop, we see unit sales similar to what we've seen previously when at retail.
"This contradicts our projection that sales via Steam would share the overall digital pie we'd previously seen. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion on Steam didn't cannibalize its GameStop or direct sales.
"Normally, when you get sales figures, the publisher is talking about overall sell-in, not sell-through. But that figure is largely irrelevant, other than sounding awesome because anything that doesn't sell at retail later gets marked down or returned."
Buoyed by this success, Stardock is re-evaluating its global retail strategy with future games. The Political Machine 2012 and Elemental: Fallen Enchantress will release digitally through Steam, GameStop and other digital distributors, skipping retail altogether.
"I remember it was somewhat dramatic in the community when we announced that Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion wasn't going to be at retail," Wardell added. "The reason was because we have moved away from having set release dates, which are largely announced for to kick-off presales, or for shareholders and retail distributors. Now we don't plan a release date until the game has reached a quality level where we feel comfortable doing so.
"Retailers require a six-month lead-in to reserve shelf space for indies, and that's if you can get in. By contrast, with Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, we didn't set a release date until after the public beta feedback was universally positive."