Developer Runic Games may have missed out on millions of dollars inpotential 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 furtherstated its the company'sstrategy 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