Despite six years of ongoing updates, if you go to buy Terraria on Steam right now, the game is $9.99. That's the same price that it was for launch, even though developer Re-Logic has added more mechanics, items, bosses, biomes, modes, and NPCs. Much bigger game, still $9.99.
According to Re-Logic, building the community is more important than making more money on the game.
"In all honesty, as successful as Terraria has been, it isn't even what we consider to be the most valuable asset that Re-Logic has. That would be our reputation and the unwavering good will that we have built with our amazing fans," Re-Logic president Andrew Spinks told Gamesindustry.biz.
"We have had discussions around this topic in a variety of ways over the years," he added. "To give a small example, we could have charged some very small amount for the massive 1.3 update - let's say a dollar or less - and would have likely made several million dollars without much community blowback. This is what I was referring to in regards leaving money on the table. However, we strongly feel that forgoing those quick gains was and is the right path to take."
Spinks notes that if Re-Logic was in a worse place, the studio may have needed to go that route. Instead, Terraria has sold 20 million units, with 8.5 million of those copies coming in the last 18 months. The success of the game has allowed Re-Logic to search for an outside developer for Terraria spin-off Otherworld, while also expanding into publishing.
"Perhaps if our studio needed the extra funds to stay independent or to fund our other projects, we would have been forced into pursuing some of these things - we are cognizant that this route is not going to be possible for everyone," said Spinks. "Fortunately, we are not in this situation. Given that, and the fact we have never been all about maximizing the money at the expense of customers, we have stayed true to our core principals."
Terraria's last update was 1.3.5, which added 4K display support, further language support, and more items, all in service to what the team calls "our other secret Terraria update plans". Spinks announced planning work on Terraria 2 back in 2013, but it looks like the company intends to continue supporting the original for a long time.