Stardock's Sins of a Solar Empire leads PC game sales

Gamasutra's list of best selling games this week sees Sins of a Solar Empire in the number one slot, beating out Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and WoW: The Burning Crusade.

The Realtime Strategy/4X game was released on February 4, and has already received critical acclaim from several video game review publications. What has won it such praise is its unique combination of 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) civilization management gameplay with the battle speed of a RTS, and its sheer size, which creates an immersive effect heretofore unseen in strategy games.

Players take control of one of three races and attempt to dominate the galaxy through diplomatic relations, economic acumen, and military superiority. The game's story represents each of the three races as a sort of dynasty: one which was formerly in control of the galaxy but was wiped out (and then came back,) the "current" one which restored order after the former empire, and one which is a nation exiled from relations with the current empire.

Putting out such a successful game is an admirable feat when considering the company's main focus is not gaming. Stardock began as an applications provider for the OS/2 platform, and later found success in the skinning and customizing of Windows with its WindowBlinds skinning tools and Object Desktop accessory suite, which remains the company's chief products.

Compounding the impact of this feat is the size of Stardock when compared against whom it beat in sales. With under 50 employees, Stardock's product bested Activision/Blizzard, which has 3,000+ employees, and EA which has over 9,000. Developers of Sins of a Solar Empire, Canada's Ironclad Games, is a group of only nine programmers and designers who had formerly worked for the following: Sierra Studios, Take2 Interactive / Rockstar Games, Disney Interactive, TNT Television, The Cartoon Network, and Mattel.

By comparison, Infinity Ward, developers of the Call of Duty series which took second place behind Sins has a team of over 70.

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