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Torchlight II dev finds digital "as profitable" as full retail

Runic Games sees an equal amount of profit in digital and a $60 retail release

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.

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Latest comments (9)

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd9 years ago
Interesting info, and I've said this about retail sales for a while now. The difference in profit between retail and digital sales, even after Valve takes a 30% cut, is massive. Good to see at least one developer returning that benefit to the consumers, and likely to their own benefit as well. While they'll make the same amount per unit as they would have selling it at $60 per box, they'll sell a lot more because of their awesome pricing. Good luck to Runic. I like these guys. :)
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Or, you put the game up as a digital release for the same price as retail (and make 3-4x the profit per unit). Not that I'm having a dig at any companies... ;)
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Jamie Read 3D Artist, Neon Play Ltd9 years ago
^ But then the chances are you won't sell as many copies, in turn making you less profit.
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Andrew Wafer CEO, Pixel Toys9 years ago
I’m a huge advocate for digital for the record, but the maths seems a little funny.

Making the same amount of money per unit is great, as long as you sell a lot more units. Like 2 or 3 times. Is the market/demand for a niche game, albeit a good one, that high? There is a reason they get $14 a copy on a $60 box. The publisher (in most cases) has paid for all the development and marketing costs, and quite rightfully wants to get that investment back quickly and in that scenario the developer has usually already been paid before the game has shipped. Without a publisher you’ll have to front the multi-million $ investment to make the game and likely market it yourself. And if you sell the same volume at the $20 price for your $14 cut through digital distribution, you’re potentially multi-million $ worse off as a developer. Maybe that’s not the case with Runic Games, but worth some thought for other developers considering their budgets/pricing.

Just saying.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 9 years ago
@ Andrew

Whilst the Torchlight franchise might be niche, the genre itself isn't. Since the anti-climax of Diablo 3, Torchlight 2 has been talked about as the true successor to Diablo 2's crown. All those D2 fans who've stopped playing D3 are turning to Torchlight 2. That's an enormous number of people who are willing to try a new hack-n-slash/looting game, and the cheap buy-in of 20 bucks (with free Torchlight 1 if you pre-ordered on Steam) will have driven a lot of sales.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Feh, I still want a disc release because I have a shitty internet connection and can't download large game files. Direct sales on disc through the developer or a separate publisherwould help jerks like me. Or else, I'll need to import a LEGITIMATE version from somewhere if that territory gets a disc release. Or hope there's an Encore version at some point. Geez... I really, REALLY want to give a lot of you game makers my money when I get it, but why won't you let me?

Ah well - I can wait a bit to play this. It'll certainly be a lot more fun than Diablo II was (and the hoops I had to jump through just to play that one - yeesh. At least the guy who has it now seems to be having a fun time last I checked)....
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James Berg Games User Researcher 9 years ago
Morville hit the nail on the head for me - I was disappointed in D3, and am really hoping Runic delivers the experience I was hoping for with Torchlight 2. If you haven't played TL1, and enjoy the Diablo-style genre, it's absolutely a must-buy. TL1 was just a fantastic experience, and I'm really glad TL2 is so close to release.
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 9 years ago
Jack Tramiel once said : nothing sells products like "its so cheap and so many people buy it".
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Roberto Bruno Curious Person 9 years ago
@Andrew Wafer : to me the "off maths" seem to be yours, honestly.

If you have the same profit over every single copy, even charging one third of the price, you don't need "to sell three times as much" to make the same amount of money.
You simply need to sell the exact same amount of copies.

Then again, the neat thing is that you will most likely sell much, much more.
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