Perfect World Has Been “Very Supportive” of Torchlight and Runic’s MMO Ambitions

What does Runic Games, Flagship Studios, Blizzard North, and Condor Studios have in common?

Max Schaefer.

In an interview with Games Beat, Runic Games CEO Max Schaefer said that majority stakeholder Perfect World has been very supportive of the company’s endeavors since the beginning of their partnership, offering them autonomy while maintaining a high degree of experience in the kind of F2P MMO that Runic is interested in.

Games Beat asked:

Chinese game publisher Perfect World purchased a majority stake in Runic Games for $8.4 million. Why did you pick that partner?

Max Schaefer replied:

We weren’t sure exactly what form the company was going to take when we started up again, so my brother and I self-funded for the first few months while we went out and searched for who would be our best partner.

At the time our notion was to build an MMO and, in evaluating partners, who would help us make an MMO, because we’re a small company and we couldn’t run an MMO out of this office. We needed a partner who could help us with the infrastructure, operations, customer support, billing and all that. It seemed that Perfect World is the best alignment for us because of the MMOs they run in China, the numbers that they deal with are incredible. They really understand how to run these games efficiently and they have a lot of expertise in itemization. For MMOs we believe in the free-to-play item sales model over the subscription model, and it just felt like it was the best mix for us.

They also wanted us to operate pretty much autonomously and we were able to strike a really good deal. Even though we haven’t made an MMO yet, they’ve been very supportive of us. Since Torchlight has been a success and we’re making money as a company, they’re very happy with that.

Runic Games has a rich history, wrought with conflict and drama — it would make for a good story. Once upon a time — well, in 1993, to be precise — Condor Studios was founded by Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer, and David Brevik. In 1996, the company was purchased and renamed Blizzard North.

But in 2003, eight key employees left Blizzard North to form the new company Flagship Studios, including Bill Roper, Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer, and David Brevik, the original developers of Diablo. Unfortunately, the company dissolved in 2008 due to financial troubles.

Undaunted, Travis Baldree, Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer, Peter Hu, and the Flagship Studios Seattle team came together to form Runic Games that same year, and with the success of Torchlight, the rest is history. A fairy tale ending.

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