Runic Games at peace with Torchlight piracy

Developer Runic Games may have missed out on millions of dollars in potential revenues due to the rampant overseas piracy of its RPG Torchlight, but far from lamenting the rise of illegal downloads, CEO Max Schaefer says it's an aspect of the industry the studio actually embraces.

“Millions and millions of copies of Torchlight downloaded from the illicit market in certain Asian territories. And that’s fine with us,” Admitting Schaefer during in a chat with PC Gamer at E3. “We knew it was gonna happen. For us, we kind of see it as, down the road, we’re building an audience. We’ve long since announced that we’re going to be doing an MMO, and y’know, we kind of view it as a marketing tool for us. We’re going to have millions of people who are familiar with our franchise, familiar with our style, and who are going to be ready customers when we do a global MMO.”

At E3 to promote Runic's upcoming sequel, Torchlight 2, Schaefer further stated its the company's strategy to sell for less and forgo anti-piracy measures like DRM, explaining:

“We got a lot of letters from people saying ‘Hey, I pirated your game, but it was really cool, so I bought it.’ Y’know, we’re cool with that, we’re not as concerned about that sort of thing as other companies, especially if it makes our honest players inconvenienced. We assume that everyone is an honest player, and we want to make their experience as cool as possible.”

There's not clear data to support Schaefer's theories that turning a blind eye to piracy can foster customer loyalty, but there's no clear data to indicate it doesn't. And while it would be a stretch to say Schaefer is 'happy' about people stealing his game, it certainly doesn't seem like it's keeping him awake at night. We'll see if relying on the kindness of pirates pays off for Runic when Torchlight 2 arrives in shady back alley stores this fall.

June 10, 2011

[Source: PC Gamer ]


  • Claymore65 - June 11, 2011 5:48 a.m.

    See, my problem with piracy is that it truly hurts those who really need the money. Sure, Torchlight was very successful, but imagine what they could do with the money recieved if every person playing the game actually bought it! Lastly, with piracy, it is not simply "Free Stuff", it is STOLEN STUFF. Truly, the one hurt by piracy are the creators, and while it would be nice to not have DRM, there is no way Developers can avoid it and not want to lose money. Steam seems to be a very effective solution, however.
  • Genericide - June 11, 2011 4:05 a.m.

    A clarification: Though it may indeed be "millions" of dollars POTENTIALLY lost from piracy, that's not how piracy works. Thinking that every one of the thousands of people who torrent would automatically buy the game (or even be aware of its existence) if they couldn't pirate it is ridiculous. Piracy does cost companies money, however, and it sucks that there isn't any good way to stop it (especially in the case of people who just want free stuff). It takes a mature type of person to just accept the loss and realize DRM is not the answer (because it inconveniences the consumer more than the pirates), but I believe it's the correct way forward. Kudos to runic for taking it in stride.
  • staplersexits - June 10, 2011 10:06 p.m.

    It makes me happy to know that some developers can just be happy knowing that people are appreciating their artwork. As long as the revenues from a game put food on the table for the Devs, I don't see pirating as a very bad deal. Games companies don't need to be raking in billions of dollars, especially with big-brand games. Most of these guys are already rich as fuck anyways.
  • Letter11 - June 10, 2011 9:05 p.m.

    Wow I really admire his enlightened outlook. Millions you say? I think I would be a bit more upset. It's nice to know that there are still game creator's who are just as excited about people experiencing and loving their work as they are about making money.
  • tyler_14_420 - June 10, 2011 8:49 p.m.

    There's no clear data to support Schaefer's theories, but there's pretty clear data supporting the fact that customers will not buy games with excessive DRM. I.E: *cough* ubisoft *cough*. A large portion of people who torrent, do it to go against the rampant DRM common in games. The real way to counter piracy is offer incentives for not pirating, make it difficult to pirate (Use Steam, etc) and provide online incentives. Don't make internet access mandatory like Ubisoft but bonuses for having a legit copy is nice.
  • Yeager1122 - June 10, 2011 8:11 p.m.

    Why pirate this game its not even expensive and it was great.
  • InFeRnOg - June 10, 2011 8:01 p.m.

    I say bring back stuff like the Earthbound trick (possibly read about on a GR article...), where at the final boss the game glitches out and when you restart your save is gone. Only don't let them experience the whole game; do it sooner at a climactic battle or something. Pirates are one of the reasons that games are expensive.
  • infernox - June 10, 2011 7:21 p.m.

    no DRM is the way forward. well at least DRM that doesnt add anything and just makes the experience worse should be gone, DRM that adds something like steam is ok.

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