Last year saw a rather rough year for Stardock, whose release of Elemental received largely mixed reviews--in no small part due to many bugs that plagued its launch. Therefore, seeing Jon Shafer being hired by Stardock, specifically to work on Elemental should hopefully be a rather strong sign. In case the name does not ring a bell, Shafer was the lead designer for Civilization V, a title into which I personally have sunk many hours.
Since Shafer left Firaxis in December, it is hardly surprising to see he has moved on--instead, what is interesting is his move to Stardock, considering he had other offers as well. According to BigDownload, who briefly spoke with him, among the appeals was going to a company that would allow him to make the games he wished to make. This is where the analysis of Troy Goodfellow comes in handy, and I found his fourth point rather intriguing to contemplate:
Fourth, and related, is the prospect of making variants of Civilization forever. Stardock's last three games are a fantasy game, a political game and a sci-fi game. All three are quite different in major design areas and count as unique experiences. Firaxis has a wealth of talent and a rich history beyond Civ to pillage but it doesn't.
Given such a variety in how they wish to approach games, his move to Stardock does indeed make sense--especially given the information he gave to BigDownload. Goodfellow further goes on to elaborate that staying with Firaxis might be well and good, but it also means people would constantly be in the shadow of Sid Meier.
Regardless of whether or not Elemental can be salvaged, Stardock does have further games in its line-up, so seeing Shafer being on board for those releases will also be intriguing to see--then again, I genuinely enjoy Civ V, and don't see Shafer as having ruined it as some claim.