Brad Wardell

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Brad Wardell
Brad Wardell.jpg
Born (1971-06-24) June 24, 1971 (age 44)[1]
Occupation CEO, founder of Stardock Corporation

Bradley R. Wardell (born June 24, 1971[1][original research?]) is an American businessman, programmer and author residing in Michigan.[3] He is the founder, President, and CEO[4] of Stardock, a software development and computer games company.[5]

Wardell's specialty is the design and programming of artificial intelligence and game mechanics for turn-based strategy games.[6]

CEO of Stardock[edit]

Early career[edit]

Wardell built PCs and worked as a check proofer to fund his education at Western Michigan University.[3] He graduated in 1994 with a degree in Electronic Engineering, specializing in Computer Engineering.[5][7]

Wardell's first notable achievement[8] was the design and implementation of Galactic Civilizations for OS/2, one of the platform's few games.[9] He led development of OS/2 Essentials, followed by Object Desktop, a package of utilities and desktop enhancements.[10]

Wardell remained an OS/2 advocate for years;[10] in 1996 he won OS/2 Professional's "Corporate Commitment" award.[7]

Windows development[edit]

When the OS/2 market collapsed, he guided Stardock to Windows, heading development of PC game Entrepreneur (now The Corporate Machine) while coordinating the creation of WindowBlinds and other Object Desktop components.

Wardell designed Galactic Civilizations for Windows and its sequel, which became GameSpy's Game of the Year.[11] He subsequently designed The Political Machine and Elemental, as well as two expansions to Galactic Civilizations II.[12] In 2012 he was the producer of Elemental: Fallen Enchantress.

In mid 2013, Stardock announced that it had promoted Derek Paxton to succeed Wardell in the running of Stardock Entertainment in order for Wardell to have more time for other projects.[13] These other projects included co-founding new game studios [14] including Oxide Games and Mohawk Games with Soren Johnson.

Computer customization[edit]

Wardell is co-founder and webmaster of WinCustomize, a site specializing in the distribution of skins and themes for computer software. He is also an administrator and – through Stardock – the largest single shareholder of technology news site Neowin.[15] He was a regular on the PowerUser.TV podcast, run by WinCustomize and Neowin,[16] and organized the GUI Olympics (later GUI Championships), a semi-annual skinning competition starting in 2002.[17]

Software designed or co-designed[edit]

Video games[edit]

Wardell is regularly interviewed by game industry magazine Gamasutra. In 2009, he was chosen as a judge for Intel's "Level Up" game demo contest.[18] He was also a columnist for game websites The Adrenaline Vault and Quarter to Three.

Wardell takes an open approach to game development, allowing users to view and influence the process of making games.[19][20] However, he can also aggressively defend his positions, particularly when it comes to his specialties.[citation needed]

Wardell is credited with many different game projects during his career either as a game designer or as an executive producer.[21]

As designer[edit]

As Executive Producer[edit]

Oxide Games[edit]

On October 23, 2013, it was announced that Wardell had partnered up with other veteran game developers to form Oxide Games. Its stated goal is to develop "next generation" 3D engines for games.

Mohawk Games[edit]

In January 2014, it was announced that Wardell had teamed up with Civilization IV designer, Soren Johnson to form Mohawk Games with Johnson acting as CEO and Wardell as its President.[22]


Wardell wrote the fantasy novel Elemental: Destiny's Embers (ISBN 0345517865; August 24, 2010), published by Del Rey to accompany Elemental: War of Magic. The book is set a thousand years after the Cataclysm, after the time of the game itself,[23] and involves the quest of a former messenger to save mankind from the Fallen.[24] The book came with a coupon to download an exclusive campaign for the game.[25]


Wardell believes that "nice guys finish first," and that customers are "part of the team."[26] Politically, he is a self-identified conservative.[27]

Digital rights management[edit]

Wardell endorses digital distribution, despite the potential for piracy.[28] He believes that while copyright infringement is an issue, blaming it for poor sales – and insisting on "stupid"[29] forms of digital rights management – "hides other underlying causes."[30] Indeed, he argues that extreme anti-piracy measures result in poor sales:

The reason why we don't put copy protection on our games isn't because we're nice guys. We do it because the people who actually buy games don't like to mess with it. Our customers make the rules, not the pirates.[31]

Wardell says any system of protection "should be completely invisible to the user,"[29] and that it is not enough to make a good product while disrespecting your customers:

Stardock is consumer friendly because we're a bunch of greedy capitalists who have recognized what should be an obvious truth: If you treat people as potential customers and not potential criminals you are likely to get more sales.[32]

To this end, Wardell created a "Gamers Bill of Rights," released at PAX 2008.[33][34][35] Gas Powered Games' Chris Taylor – who was working with Stardock on Demigod at the time – called the bill "an awesome framework for the industry to aspire to."[36]

Software and economics[edit]

Wardell is willing to use free software or freeware when it is equal in quality to commercial software,[37] or when it is all that can be afforded; the first OS/2 version of Galactic Civilizations was created using the GNU toolchain.[10] He even funded hosting for competing freeware utility Samurize.[38] However, he believes that freeware users often drive their developers away,[39] and that – on average – commercial developers have greater incentives to improve quality, resulting in better products.

Forum participation[edit]

Wardell has participated in online news, magazines and forums since his days running Commodore 64 BBSes in the late 1980s.[40] He made over 10,000 posts to Usenet during 1992–2006, being particularly active in and subgroups of comp.os.os2.[41][42][43] Wardell is still active on his own forums and maintains a blog called Little Tiny Frogs.

Graphics technology[edit]

Wardell regularly opines through social media on a variety of graphics related topics such as console hardware and graphics APIs.[44][45]


Wardell was a member of Crain's Detroit's 40 under 40 in 2003,[46] and has been a finalist for Ernst & Young's Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002-4 and 2007.[47]

Personal life[edit]

Wardell was born in Texas but moved to Michigan at 4 when his parents divorced. While Wardell's mother worked minimum wage jobs to support herself and her son, Wardell began working at a young age taking out garbage, working for an excavation company and other after school jobs to save for college. Once in college, Wardell worked multiple jobs to pay for school. Along the way, he founded Stardock which he ultimately made his career.[22]

Wardell is married to Deborah (Debbie) Wardell,[48] whom he met at college;[2] they have three children: Alex, Ryan and Ashley.[49] His hobbies include beekeeping.[2][50]


  1. ^ a b Brad Wardell, profile - Frogboy, retrieved 2010-03-21 
  2. ^ a b c Brad Wardell (2009-01-29), 25 random facts about me, retrieved 2010-03-21 
  3. ^ a b Brad Wardell (2004-07-03), A working history for Brad Wardell, retrieved 2010-03-21 
  4. ^ "30 Stardock Management Page", Stardock, retrieved 2013-03-13 
  5. ^ a b Stardock - Management, Stardock, retrieved 2010-03-21 
  6. ^ Brad Wardell (2006-12-12), Gal Civ II: Dark Avatar AI: How smart can the competition get?, IGN, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  7. ^ a b Brad Wardell (2004-11-01), Resume, retrieved 2010-03-23 
  8. ^ Andrew Cedotal, "30 Great Gaming Geeks", Geekosystem, retrieved 2010-03-03 
  9. ^ Brad Wardell (2003-05-29), Galactic Civilizations: Post Mortem, GameSpy, retrieved 2010-03-23 
  10. ^ a b c Stardock's OS/2 history, 2000-10-26, retrieved 2010-03-23 
  11. ^ GalCiv II Game of the Year?, GameSpy, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  12. ^ "Bradley Wardell", MobyGames, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Oxide Games is a new studio of strategy veterans, with a new 64-bit engine". 
  15. ^ Parker, Steven (2008-05-12), Stardock's relationship with Neowin and its criticizers, retrieved 2010-02-03, Neowin is now part owned by Stardock (40%) [...] The other 60% is shared between myself and (Redmak) Marcel Klum, the site founders. 
  16. ^ PowerUser.TV (episodes from October 2005 to December 2006) 
  17. ^ Brad Wardell (2002-02-02), GUI Olympics 2002 Officially Begins, OSNews, retrieved 2010-03-25 
  18. ^ Eric Caoili (2009-06-02), Wright, Meier, Wardell Added To Intel Game Contest Judges, Gamasutra, retrieved 2010-03-25 
  19. ^ Brad Wardell (2006-03-14), Implementing feedback, retrieved 2010-03-23 
  20. ^ Spencer Scott (2009-05-27), Demigod 108 Hour Work Week - Part 1, retrieved 2010-03-25 
  21. ^,44933/
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^ Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (2010-03-01), "Random House Sets Out to Apply Storytelling Skills to Videogames", The Wall Street Journal, retrieved 2010-03-01 
  24. ^ "Elemental - Purchase". Stardock. Retrieved 2010-08-21. 
  25. ^ Rainier (2010-08-24). "'Elemental: War of Magic' Free DLC With Novel Purchase". Worthplaying. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  26. ^ Brad Wardell (2006-04-22), Stardock's 10 rules for success, retrieved 2010-03-25 
  27. ^ Peckham, Matt. "Maine Republican Party: Playing World of Warcraft Makes You Unfit for Office" Time October 10, 2012
  28. ^ Christian Nutt (2008-04-07), "Q&A: Stardock's Wardell Talks Distribution Revolution With Impulse", Gamasutra, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  29. ^ a b Kris Graft (2008-10-24), "Stardock's Copyright Security Solution", EDGE, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  30. ^ Piracy & PC Gaming, 2008-03-10, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  31. ^ Ben Kuchera (2008-03-20), "PC game developer has radical message: ignore the pirates", Ars Technica, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  32. ^ Brad Wardell (2009-04-07), Impulse: Road Map, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  33. ^ Brad Wardell (2008-09-04), The Gamers Bill, Stardock, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  34. ^ Brad Wardell (2008-08-29), "The Gamer's Bill of Rights", EDGE, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  35. ^, 2008-08-29, retrieved 2010-03-24  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^ Michael Fahey (2008-08-29), "The PC Gamer's Bill of Rights", Kotaku, retrieved 2010-03-24 
  37. ^ Brad Wardell (2005-02-11), Didn't you know capitalism was bad?, retrieved 2010-03-22 
  38. ^ Gustaf Lundh (Cure110) (2004-04-15), Comment to Samurize, Betanews, retrieved 2010-03-25, The bandwidth speedup is thanks to (believe it or not) stardock, who is now hosting our webpage for free. If it wouldn't for these guys i'm not sure the project would still be continued. 
  39. ^ Brad Wardell (2005-03-15), Why freeware nearly always loses in the long run, retrieved 2010-03-22 
  40. ^ Brad Wardell (2001-08-28), Tell us about your first time..., retrieved 2010-03-25 
  41. ^ Profile for Brad Wardell's Western Michigan University account - Google Groups
  42. ^ Profile for Brad Wardell's IBM account - Google Groups
  43. ^ Profile for Brad Wardell's Stardock account - Google Groups
  44. ^ "PS4 vs Xbox One: Dev Hitting 1080p on PS4 At Will Due To GDDR5 vs DDR3, DX12 To Help In Some Cases & More". 
  45. ^ "Brad Wardell CEO StarDock Discusses Mantle and DX12 Performance & Implementation". 
  46. ^ Andrew Dietderich (2003-09-29), "40 under 40", Detroit Business News (Crain Communications), retrieved 2010-03-21 
  47. ^ Frank Maselli (July 2007), "2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Brad Wardell, Star Player", Smart Business Detroit, retrieved 2010-03-22 [dead link]
  48. ^ Brad Wardell, Photo of Debbie Wardell, retrieved 2010-03-21 
  49. ^ Brad Wardell, Frogboy - WinCustomize profile, retrieved 2010-03-21 
  50. ^ Brad Wardell (2007-05-21), Beekeeping in Michigan - Getting Started, retrieved 2010-03-21 


External links[edit]