As a company that makes desktop applications, strategy games and technology platforms, it can be difficult to pin down exactly what Stardock’s brand is. Even the company’s founder and CEO Brad Wardell has trouble sometimes, but that’s a challenge that Kevin Unangst, the company’s newly appointed vice president of global marketing and strategic partnerships, is ready to take on.
Unangst, who has worked in various marketing roles at Microsoft for the past 30 years and helped establish Windows 10 as a gaming platform, will look to broaden the multifaceted brand’s reach as a technology platform by creating greater equity between its desktop application, tech and gaming divisions.
“As a marketer, this is one of the most exciting things about joining Stardock—that Stardock has both a long legacy of building desktop enhancement software as well as a loyal fanbase for their strategy games,” Unangst told AListDaily. “Stardock builds innovative technology and applies that to both productivity and gaming; that’s what I want to capitalize on and build brand equity in moving ahead.”
Unangst said Stardock has led the way in technologies since its founding in the 1990s, but the brand hasn’t generally been able to capitalize on that, noting that the leading digital store today is Steam, not Impulse, which was once owned by Stardock. Unangst noted that the software development and publishing company once had the first-mover advantage when it launched the digital-retail store Impulse in 2008 to compete with Steam, but the service was subsequently sold to GameStop in 2011. His goal now will be to capitalize on such opportunities as they present themselves to Stardock.
“The fact that my role is leading both the global marketing and strategic partnerships for Stardock shows just how inseparable these efforts are in terms of driving future success,” said Unangst.
The capital from the Impulse sale was put into a fund to develop technology and content that Stardock is planning to fully bring to market by 2021. These include Nitrous, created by a company Stardock co-founded called Oxide Interactive, which allows games to smoothly work across a wide range of computer systems. Although the details are confidential, Unangst said that his primary effort will be to broaden Stardock’s brand-and-product reach by aligning with partners, from hardware makers to publishing, that share Stardock’s values and passion for innovation.
Unangst’s first step is to learn from what Stardock has already done and use his experience to see what’s happening in the PC gaming industry to amplify those efforts.
Promotion for Star Control: Origins—a sci-fi action strategy game based on a cult classic PC game from the 1990s—is likely to be one of Unangst’s main starting points. The game, which launched its first beta in November, is being planned for a multiplatform launch for PC, Mac, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Given the game’s nostalgic roots in the PC gaming space, its planned debut for console systems is a notable move.
Unangst said that in order to stand out in today’s digital marketplace, you need to have a great game and a vocal and active community to drive awareness.
“Being where your customers are with the right strategic partners is critical,” he said. “Anytime you create a new entry in a respected franchise you always have to balance the affinity and nostalgia behind that IP while building something that can appeal to a broader audience. Not to mention the expectations of modern gamers are very different. It’s not easy, but from what I’ve already seen, Brad and the team are going to deliver something very special.”