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E3 2011: Torchlight pirated over 5 million times in China, Runic CEO: "That's fine with us."

torchlight 2 sturmbeorn

After getting hands-on with Torchlight 2's brawlin', just-announced Berserker class at E3, I had a chat with Runic Games' CEO, Max Schaefer about T2's just-announced LAN support, Runic's refreshing attitude about DRM and piracy (and why "millions," of illegal downloads in China don't bother him) and the the possibility of 50-player multiplayer.

Here's a selection of direct quotes from Max Schaefer , formerly a VP at Blizzard North and one of the frontmen on Diablo.

On Asian piracy:

"Millions and millions of copies of Torchlight downloaded from the illicit market in certain Asian territories. And that's fine with us. 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."


"You're fighting against an immovable force by complaining and being paranoid about [piracy] and all that. We figure if we're just nice to our customers, charge a low price for our game to begin with, don't over-burden them with crazy DRM, and customers will be nice to us too. And so far, they have been."

"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."

On LAN support, which was just confirmed:

"I don't know why everyone else doesn't do it. I understand that a lot of other companies want to run you through their portal to expose you to the other products they have and make it easy for you to click a button and buy other stuff. But we're a small company--we have Torchlight and Torchlight 2. There's really no reason for us to do that sort of thing. And it's something [fans] have requested, and we're happy to be able to do it."

On the prospect of community-created 50-player multiplayer:

"We're releasing the tools that we use to make the game. We're not dumbing them down at all or disabling anything--you'll literally be able to change everything in the game, among that the maximum number of players that can get into a game. So yeah, if you make a level that's appropriate for a ton of guys--we haven't done 50--but it's theoretically possible, it should work perfectly well."

Raised by a Team Fortress Classic clan, Evan can only communicate using multiplayer FPS jargon, sort of like that Star Trek: TNG "Darmok" episode. 2fort, when the walls fell...