Torchlight II Is Cheap So That More People Can Play It

Torchlight II is a massive game. It's packed full of content. You can spend many, many hours hacking away at monsters, questing with your friends, and making mods in this new action-RPG.

Yet it'll only cost you $US20, a third the cost of most video games today. That's a steal. So out of curiosity and befuddlement, I hopped on the phone today with Max Schaefer, CEO of Torchlight developer Runic Studios, to ask him how they can afford to maintain a 30-person studio while selling their game at such a ridiculous price.

Here's what he said:

Well, we're a small kind of independent company so we can just kind of decide what we're doing with a whole lot of external [influence]. So it's in our authority to do so.

Is it a good idea? I don't know. It feels right to us; it felt right for Torchlight 1 and then, it just felt like, you know we can make a really good argument if we do this again at 20 bucks for Torchlight II because it's just bigger and better in every way.

And yeah, we kind of -- in the long run we want to be known as the people who have the best value in gaming. And we want to build a long-term community. We want to have people that buy our games and stuff for a long long long long time. So it's sort of an investment in the future.

But it's also possible because we no longer sell PC games in boxes. There's no way that, if we were a box-based game, that we could charge [$20]. It's really the advent of the digital distributors like Steam and stuff that make this possible, just because so much -- when we sell a $US20 box at WalMart we get like $US3.50 back, whereas we get like $US14 back for a digital sale.

That's kind of the industry standard for digital is like a 70-30 split. And we get more than that for a sale on our site because we're not going through anybody. But in any case the economics work better than -- you know, much much better than boxes. And they're not that much different from when we used to do a $US50 box through a regular box publisher that's about what would come back to the developer anyway.

It's really not -- it kinda works for us is what I'm saying. We're gonna make money fine on it.

(I followed up later to ask if Diablo III had anything to do with this decision, but I haven't heard back yet.)

Schaefer didn't know off hand how many copies the team needs to sell in order to turn a profit -- all he could tell me was that the total budget was under $US10 million -- but he did predict that Torchlight II will "clear a million very quickly." They've already sold "well over a quarter" million pre-orders for the game.

The team doesn't know what they're going to do next. But they're developing downloadable content for the game. And it'll all be free.

"Part of our thing is that it's a $US20 game, and once you start muddying the waters with paid DLC then it's like, well, it wasn't really $US20," he said. "We wanna just avoid that whole thing entirely. We wanna just make it better and better and better."


Comments

    Runic, you are an inspiration to the industry, keep up the good work!

    A rambling dialogue worthy of Randy Pitchford himself.

    for $20 i cant even be fuked looking for pirated copy to see if I like the game before buying it
    (and I do it almost every time)

    Just got the first in Humble Bundle 6 (available now!) and was thinking to buy the sequel if I enjoy it as much as I expect.
    Honestly... I'd almost buy it now just out of respect for the outlook in this ramble.
    Smart business; smart marketing.

    Torchlight 2 is sitting on my HD waiting to go, however Borderlands 2 will probably soak up what gaming time I actually have for quite awhile I reckon...Either way Runic & Gearbox are my two fave Devs at the moment.

      These guys don't have a DNF to fuck up their game release history however...

        Bit hard to blame Gearbox for that when they didn't really 'make' it. They just bought the mostly finished game, put it together and pushed it out. I'd wager the main reason for doing so is for the rights to duke, rather than DNF.

      Ha, when I found out that Torchlight 2 and Borderlands 2 were releasing at the same time I was happy because it meant I'd be kept busy while I wait for B2 to arrive in the mail.

    Another nice guy Schaefer in the industry. (Schafer, Schaefer, close enough right?)

    Best $20 I've spent in some time! Just had 4 hours of some the most satisfying gaming I've had in a long time. Hell it's better value than a visit to the cinema!

    I preordered via steam.. kinda wish I waited and bought direct from Runic so he could get the whole $20, however steam si more convenient for co-op b/c that's where all my buddies bought it :P

      I'm not sure but I'm guessing you could buy from Runic and then activate on Steam, I'm not sure though. Nice people like that though make me think I'll be looking into ways to send them more money in future though.

    I ordered it from Runic Games this morning.. but the Runic site is utterly swamped today.. so getting it downloaded till all the USA/EU people have gone to bed is unlikely.

      Yeah their website is suffering bad. I still haven't been able to set up an account for playing multiplayer.

    This is sitting on my HDD, ready to go... But BL2 got in the way

      I noticed that too i managed to get my account setup but not intergrated with steam yet. Still the game is bloody amazing !

    Install Torchlight 2

    del Diablo 3

    end of line.

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