Brad Wardell

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Brad Wardell
Brad Wardell.jpg
Born (1971-06-24) June 24, 1971 (age 48)[1]
OccupationCEO, founder of Stardock Corporation

Bradley R. Wardell (born June 24, 1971[1]) is an American businessman, programmer, author and AI Engineer. He is the founder, President, and CEO[3] of Stardock, a software development and computer games company.

Wardell's specialty is the design and programming of artificial intelligence and game mechanics for turn-based strategy games.[4]

CEO of Stardock[edit]

Early career[edit]

Wardell built PCs and worked as a check proofer while studying at Western Michigan University.[5] He graduated in 1994 with a degree in Electronic Engineering, specializing in Computer Engineering.[6][7]

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

Windows development[edit]

When the OS/2 market collapsed, he shifted 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.[10] He subsequently designed The Political Machine and Elemental, as well as two expansions (Dark Avatar and Twilight of the Arnor) to Galactic Civilizations II.[11] 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.[12] These other projects included co-founding new game studios [13] 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.[14] He was a regular on the PowerUser.TV podcast, run by WinCustomize and Neowin,[15] and organized the GUI Olympics (later GUI Championships), a semi-annual skinning competition starting in 2002.[16]

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.[17] He was also a columnist for game websites The Adrenaline Vault and Quarter to Three.[citation needed]

Wardell takes an approach to game development allowing users to view and influence the process of making games.[18][19] Wardell is credited with multiple game projects either as a game designer or as an executive producer.[20]

As designer[edit]

As Executive Producer[edit]


Wardell wrote the fantasy novel Elemental: Destiny's Embers, 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,[21] and involves the quest of a former messenger to save mankind from the Fallen.[22] The book came with a coupon to download an exclusive campaign for the game.[23]


Digital rights management[edit]

Wardell endorses digital distribution, despite the potential for piracy.[24] He believes that while copyright infringement is an issue, blaming it for poor sales – and insisting on "stupid"[25] forms of digital rights management – "hides other underlying causes."[26] 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.[27]

Wardell says any system of protection "should be completely invisible to the user,"[25] 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.[28]

To this end, Wardell created a "Gamers Bill of Rights," released at PAX 2008.[29][30][31] 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."[32]

Media bias[edit]

Wardell has commented on the Gamergate controversy,[33] stating that "The media should acknowledge that there's a problem and that their customers are getting fed up with it" in response to a question about how the media should cover it.


Wardell was a member of Crain's Detroit's 40 under 40 in 2003,[34] and has been a finalist for Ernst & Young's Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002-4 and 2007.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Wardell has three children with his wife Debbie Wardell.[36][37]


He was the subject of a lawsuit in 2010 by Alexandra Miseta, which ended in a settlement and apology by Miseta.[38] Stardock countersued alleging that Miseta maliciously destroyed company property when she departed.[38][39]


  1. ^ a b Brad Wardell, profile - Frogboy, archived from the original on 2007-03-17, retrieved 2010-03-21
  2. ^ Brad Wardell (2009-01-29), 25 random facts about me, retrieved 2010-03-21
  3. ^ "30 Stardock Management Page", Stardock, retrieved 2013-03-13
  4. ^ Brad Wardell (2006-12-12), Gal Civ II: Dark Avatar AI: How smart can the competition get?, IGN, retrieved 2010-03-24
  5. ^ Brad Wardell (2004-07-03), A working history for Brad Wardell, retrieved 2010-03-21
  6. ^ Stardock - Management, Stardock, retrieved 2010-03-21
  7. ^ Brad Wardell (2004-11-01), Resume, retrieved 2010-03-23
  8. ^ Andrew Cedotal, "30 Great Gaming Geeks", Geekosystem, archived from the original on 2010-02-16, retrieved 2010-03-03
  9. ^ Stardock's OS/2 history, 2000-10-26, retrieved 2010-03-23
  10. ^ GalCiv II Game of the Year?, GameSpy, archived from the original on 2008-04-08, retrieved 2010-03-24
  11. ^ "Bradley Wardell", MobyGames, retrieved 2010-03-24
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Oxide Games is a new studio of strategy veterans, with a new 64-bit engine".
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ PowerUser.TV (episodes from October 2005 to December 2006)
  16. ^ Brad Wardell (2002-02-02), GUI Olympics 2002 Officially Begins, OSNews, retrieved 2010-03-25
  17. ^ Eric Caoili (2009-06-02), Wright, Meier, Wardell Added To Intel Game Contest Judges, Gamasutra, retrieved 2010-03-25
  18. ^ Brad Wardell (2006-03-14), Implementing feedback, retrieved 2010-03-23
  19. ^ Spencer Scott (2009-05-27), Demigod 108 Hour Work Week - Part 1, retrieved 2010-03-25
  20. ^ "Bradley Wardell". Moby Games. 29 December 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  21. ^ Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (2010-03-01), "Random House Sets Out to Apply Storytelling Skills to Videogames", The Wall Street Journal, retrieved 2010-03-01
  22. ^ "Elemental - Purchase". Stardock. Retrieved 2010-08-21.
  23. ^ Rainier (2010-08-24). "'Elemental: War of Magic' Free DLC With Novel Purchase". Worthplaying. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  24. ^ Christian Nutt (2008-04-07), "Q&A: Stardock's Wardell Talks Distribution Revolution With Impulse", Gamasutra, retrieved 2010-03-24
  25. ^ a b Kris Graft (2008-10-24), "Stardock's Copyright Security Solution", EDGE, archived from the original on 2013-01-15, retrieved 2010-03-24
  26. ^ Piracy & PC Gaming, 2008-03-10, retrieved 2010-03-24
  27. ^ Ben Kuchera (2008-03-20), "PC game developer has radical message: ignore the pirates", Ars Technica, retrieved 2010-03-24
  28. ^ Brad Wardell (2009-04-07), Impulse: Road Map, retrieved 2010-03-24
  29. ^ Brad Wardell (2008-09-04), The Gamers Bill, Stardock, archived from the original on 2010-03-27, retrieved 2010-03-24
  30. ^ Brad Wardell (2008-08-29), "The Gamer's Bill of Rights", EDGE, archived from the original on 2012-09-04, retrieved 2010-03-24
  31. ^ "Stardock Releases Gamer's Bill of Rights at PAX",, 2008-08-29, archived from the original on 2010-02-27, retrieved 2010-03-24
  32. ^ Michael Fahey (2008-08-29), "The PC Gamer's Bill of Rights", Kotaku, retrieved 2010-03-24
  33. ^ "Brad Wardell GamerGate Interview". Archived from the original on 2016-08-18. Retrieved 2016-07-09.
  34. ^ Andrew Dietderich (2003-09-29), "40 under 40", Detroit Business News, Crain Communications, retrieved 2010-03-21
  35. ^ Frank Maselli (July 2007), "2007 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Brad Wardell, Star Player", Smart Business Detroit, retrieved 2010-03-22[dead link]
  36. ^ Brad Wardell, Photo of Debbie Wardell, retrieved 2010-03-21
  37. ^ Brad Wardell, Frogboy - WinCustomize profile, retrieved 2010-03-21
  38. ^ a b Stardock Lawsuits Dropped, Ex-Employee Apologizes, 2012-09-06, retrieved 2012-09-06
  39. ^ Former Stardock Employee Apologizes For Lawsuit, 2013-09-24, retrieved 2013-03-30