Runic Games chief executive officer Max Schaefer has told IGN that his studio sees a digital download release "as profitable" as a $60 retail release. The studio will be releasing Torchlight II as a $20 digital release in the wake of its primary competition, Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo III.
"Back in the day, when we would sell a $60-dollar box, by the time the money came back to us, it would be maybe $14 dollars a copy. And that's what we get nowadays on Steam, selling a digital download version for $20. So from our perspective, we're as viable and as profitable as an independent developer used to be selling $60 boxes," said Schaefer.
"We're bypassing the publisher and box distribution and that lets us bring a $60 game to people for $20. We don't want people to look at Torchlight as a cheap game, because we think it's competitive with anything out there. But we like the idea that we're at this price. It sets us apart a little bit. We also want people to buy a Runic Games product without even thinking about it, because they know it's always a good value."
Despite the release of Diablo III, Schaefer isn't afraid of the title and believes Runic and Blizzard chose different paths for their releases.
"There's two valid paths to go when making a game like this. You're either going to have a secure economy, like a quasi-MMO, or you're going to have an open game where you're going to let people have access to all the data and all the files and let them update it and mod it as they please," he told IGN.
"We've chosen the latter path, and Blizzard obviously chose the former path. I think they're both valid, but they do offer alternatives to people who are disaffected one way or another."
"They've actually put out a significant product there. But what I think we're offering something that some players may prefer, things like the offline single-player play. Basically, we're not trying to create a secure economy. We don't have to have these crazy protection mechanisms in place. We're giving our development tools out with the game so that the modding community can go crazy with it and make all kinds of cool new stuff," he added.
Torchlight II will be released on September 20.