Has Torchlight II Committed Commercial Suicide?

Release day; a day where every developer, big or small, stays up all night watching the numbers roll in as they have an indication whether their latest project has been a success or failure. Did they do enough marketing? Is their brand strong enough? Was the timing right?

Timing is often where a number of developers have their biggest misstep. I think back to May 18, 2010 when Microsoft’s Alan Wake, an Xbox 360 exclusive, launched in the same week as Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, a massive game spread across two platforms that was always going to sell through the roof.

One game reigned supreme, one game fell into obscurity. We can’t rely on “what if” scenarios, but I can’t help but feel Alan Wake would have fared a little better if the timing was just right, something that the PC community proved two years later.

After months of delays Runic Games is on the verge of launching Torchlight II, an excellent ARPG that deserves appraise from gamers of all genres. While it dodged a gigantic bullet earlier this year by the name of Diablo 3, I can’t help but feel they are committing commercial suicide by launching the same day as Gearbox’s Borderlands 2.

Fans of the ARPG genre or the Torchlight series would have placed their money down for one of the most anticipated PC games of the year, and their purchasing habits aren’t what concern me. It’s the thoughts and opinions of the general gaming public that could prove to be worrisome for Runic.

Torchlight is an indie title, and while it has a decent following, it can’t compare to a Game of The Year franchise. Borderlands has become cemented in gaming culture; a title with fanatical fans, deep lore and community videos that splash across the front pages of gaming sites across the globe. You can’t buy that kind of exposure and that’s definitely going to pose a threat on Thursday when both games are released.

Perhaps the most important deterrent for most general gamers will be accessibility. Borderlands 2 is a shooter with RPG elements at the centre, and while a lot of gamers don’t like RPGs, it seems that the majority of people love shooters. When Borderlands 2 boasts hundreds of weapons, 40 hour plus campaign and more things to kill than a Call of Duty marathon, it’s going to be hard to sway those gamers into thinking a point-and-click dungeon crawler is really going to entertain them just as much.

Before you get outraged let’s just remember I’m talking about general gamers here, the type who buy Call of Duty every year and think that the guy with the green outfit and sword’s name is Zelda. I’m not trying to slur the great name of Torchlight II either, in fact I’ve been playing it over the weekend to get ready for this week’s review and it’s already one of my favourite releases of 2012.

I just hope we’re not faced with another “What if” scenario when it tried to stand toe-to-toe with what seems like an unstoppable force in Borderlands 2.

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