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Today a few details leaked onto the Web regarding Runic Games’ up coming dungeon crawling MMO based on their smash hit Torchlight.

Currently, Runic Games is planning on having the Torchlight MMO be free-to-play, with funding coming though microtransactions. Also, a main focus of the MMO is to make it feel like a single-player game.

Travis Baldree, president of Runic Games, stated: “our vision is to have an MMO that plays as close to single player as we can get it. It will have the same focus on relatively fast action: carving your way through hordes of monsters with a large number of hugely devastating skills. The game has to be solo-able, but players will have to have skills that make them useful in a party and make them work together.”

In regards to the microtransaction, Baldree added: “I will never, ever buy a microtransaction item. I’m that kind of player. And the game has to be enjoyable for me, too. We don’t want our monetisation stuff to offer ways to skip the game because the game is boring.”

Personally, I’m amped for this game. I’ve never really been that big into MMOs because, like Mr. Baldree, I need some sort of solo component. For those of you who missed out on Torchlight, log onto Steam today; it’s currently $5.

What do you guys think about this? Would you be interested in a Torchlight MMO? How do you feel about the microtransactions? Do you think the Torchlight world is rich enough to support an MMO?


  1. avatar Winterwolf

    Uh, you realize that they announced this about a year or so ago already? The whole point behind releasing Torchlight was to build awareness for the MMO and raise some cash to help fund their project. A bunch of other sites ran this story quite a while ago. I’m not trying to be mean or anything, just FYI.

  2. Yeah, in my review I mentioned that they were working on an MMO, but I think Alex wanted to state that they’ve been actually working on it, and that it will be free to play with microtransactions. I’m glad to see it will have an emphasis on single player – i probably lost close to 3 years of my life when Diablo II came out, and then some more after the most recent patch. I’ve been looking to fill the void since then, and I particularly hate MMOs (until The Old Republic comes out) because most of the popular ones are too multiplayer based. Can’t wait for this bad boy to get a release!

    • avatar Lynn

      A comment a year later, but if anoyne reads it, have at it.The logic and explanation is sensible, but it’s far too sandboxed to even be anything but wild speculation. It’s unclear what position you’re actually taking here, but if it’s that MMOs are actually going to all trend into microstransactions, then I would be comfortable in calling bullshit on this one.Too many factors are left out of the equation. Did they ever stop to think that one market creates or allows the other to exist as well?Here’s just one simple point though that is going to tip this over. You can’t compare Home Shopping Network (or Television to Gaming in general) to say World of Warcraft and EQ. The more people tuning into the HSN program doesn’t increase their infrastructure and operational costs. They’ll still have their cable / public broadcasting deals and the same handful of people blathering about products and handling the orders. They don’t have to hire drastically more people to do customer / technical services, or buy more servers and bandwidth to handle the load of new customers. They also aren’t broadcasting some non-interactive programming to people. It’s kind of crazy to think the concept of Home Shopping Network could swing both ways. That in theory they could somehow redesign their format entirely to actually make people pay to watch their show and not really sell anything Let’s be real here too. You go to HBO and HSN for two totally different reasons. It’s way too asymmetric of a comparison to make these two business models look like they’re fluid enough to just shift into any container you put them in. Face it the reason most people don’t buy anything off HSN is because it’s garbage and they’re wise to it. The analogies would properly balance out to saying they’re going to make crappy MMOs that only a few people would invest money into. If HBO gave up on their corporate mission and made a free show that sold random junk, some other studio would pop up and take it’s place and it’s revenue to do exactly the same thing.I personally would never go to HSN looking for a good movie. So, if these MMOs are to be a counterpart of subscriptions in the same way HSN is to HBO, I (as well as millions of others) will never go near them. That isn’t to say no one would be as mental to do that, or that American’s aren’t evolving in that direction as a bunch of drone-like consumers, but as of now and the near future it isn’t likely to have a market large enough to sustain itself at the success margins comparable to the big name subscriptions MMOs we have now.WoW and EQ making content is the whole point of making it attractive to players. They need the funding to hire and retain the talent and designers to make the thing justifiable to keep playing year after year. It just wouldn’t fly if they made some kind of budget game that only appealed to people who paid money for bonus content. If you had to pay to get special treatment for a video game that would turn a ton of people off who were initially attracted to the freeware nature of the game. Then the issue of how much can you feasibly charge for virtual perks? Probably not much drastically higher than an annual total of a subscription fee. Your game probably wouldn’t have any serious pull to begin with if you were strictly using this model of customer appeasement.I’m not saying microtransactions aren’t viable, seen, or impossible in games, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any as successful as WoW, or when we wake up tomorrow they’ll all be that way. It’s a business strategy, and not a game design or marketing strategy. It also doesn’t cohesively support what players and developers want out of the game. The subscription fee if modestly priced provides the developers with the resources they need to make a sensational game (if they can) that is fun to play (attracting players) and make money to support the MMO infrastructure while turning a good profit.I personally don’t think business strategies have any well business as a primary role in the philosophy of game design. That’s like saying if the amount of the budget you spend is more, the movie you’re making will be better. The amount spent out of the budget comes after the fact, and the success of the movie is determined by it’s own merits, which may or may not have anything to do with cost constraints past a certain amount to cover all the production costs. Way too many variables to consider.You can’t really get a good MMO off the ground without subscriptions to offset the operational costs. The security of the subscription based income is an enabling factor of what allows many MMOs to be as robust as they are and hence as popular. If you could do without subscriptions though, then you could feasibly make a free to all MMO with carefully designed perks that made you a healthy profit.The problem, as sort of hinted upon in the article, is the issue of inequity among gamers. You can’t give the impression you’re short changing your player base in the interest of making a dollar off them. You can’t have your larger base of players being cornered out of areas of playing interest because someone decided to pay to buy some kind of legendary items to smoosh them and negate their efforts. It is viewed as cheating, because when your premise of playing is: Hey it’s free. That’s what you’re selling and setting expectations for to draw those numbers to begin with. When they see, oh, it’s not so free after all. It opens up a variety of cans of worms.It can easily rain on people’s parades if you’re not careful with how the cash incentive based content affects them. Then if you’re too light, no one will care enough to even bother paying money for it if they feel it’s worthless. So you have a very tough job ahead of you in that kind of customer base.The non paying people are customers still, and still add value to your MMO. Them being there is what fuels that type of game too. So it’s flawed to overlook the necessary ingredients in this affair when trying to pin some kind of speculation to it.The only method I see as working is rather dubious. You’d have an MMO that you setup a credit card payment option at the point of first purchase, and then have it allow you to autopay thereafter for convenience . Then make all the incentives extremely cheap, but frequent. Such as 10 cents to go gain access to this and that. Then you would feel the pressure of other gamers most likely to go join up with them. Come on it’s just 10 cents, you can’t be that cheap. The more and more this happens it could add up like a long distance phone bill, or a cell phone plan that’s gone over it’s minutes. That’s something I’d most expect out of the corruption of business motivated profiteering injected into the retail of MMO video gaming.It could work, but will it end up exactly the way people are speculating? Doubtful.

  3. Sounds like all the new MMO ideas are moving in the right direction. Trying to branch off from the same ol’ same ol’ style. A single player feel will be a cool thing to look into though. My fiancée was recently playing Torchlight and it’s a solid game with a lot of Diablo-type features.

  4. A Torchlight MMO seems like an excellent idea. They’ll have to work our some serious balancing issues and hopefully they’ll get rid of the identifying scrolls but I’m looking forward to it.

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