I’m shocked. Runic Games, the maker of the amazing Torchlight, Torchlight II and Hob, has been closed by publisher Perfect World. It’s barely been a month since Hob was released to generally rapturous reception, and I declared it to be one of the best games of 2017. Apparently that wasn’t enough.
Perfect World didn’t give a reason for the studio closure, although they told Eurogamer that the decision was made “as part of the company’s continued strategy to focus on online games as a service”. That old chestnut. Just recently I said that the death of single-player games has been greatly exaggerated, but perhaps I was being premature. I find it disheartening that publishers are all chasing after this ‘games as a service’ model – sure, the rewards are great if you can establish a loyal player base who will invest all of their time and money into your game. But it strikes me that players only have so much time, and that this strategy is necesarily a ‘winner takes all’ one – if players are devoting all of their spare hours to one game, then they will be buying fewer games overall, so the market as a whole will lose out.
I still can’t believe that Runic has been snuffed out so brutally, despite producing a run of utterly fantastic games. Does this really mean that single-player games aren’t profitable any more unless they’re packed with loot crates and what have you? It’s a sad thought.
Runic Games put the following statement on their website in response to the closure:
It’s been over nine years since a rag-tag team of 17 developers helped open Runic Games. We’ve been so lucky for the community that has supported us and made us successful. Thanks to that support, we have had the chance to meet and work with the best people in the world. Our team here at Runic has released three successful games, and over that time we have seen many changes; team members got married, kids were born, but the most important thing is that we have become a family.
I’m sorry to say that today will be Runic’s last day open. Our focus is on our family here, and helping them find a new place to call home. If you are in games and looking for some of the best talent in the industry, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those that love the Torchlight series, there will be some news coming. And for all our fans, our community and multiplayer services will keep running even after the studio’s lights go off.
It has been an amazing experience. To my family here at Runic, I know we won’t be far from each other, and I’ll miss seeing you all every week.
You haven’t heard the last of us,
I’m guessing that sales of Hob must have been disappointing for Perfect World. According to Steam Spy, Hob sold around 50,000 copies on PC, although we don’t know how well it sold on console. Either way, it doesn’t seem to have reached the stratospheric sales of the Torchlight series.
But even if it didn’t do crazy numbers, it seems callous to disband a group of developers as talented as Runic Games. Brutal, even.
I sincerely hope that the devs at Runic Games find positions with a company that truly appreciates their talents. I wish them sincere good luck.
PS. Buy Hob, it’s amazing.