Torchlight Frontiers has become Torchlight 3, signifying a new monetization model and design approach. The studio said it has changed quite a bit from its original vision for the game, including its always-online requirement and plans for a real money store.
In an FAQ tied to the rebranding announcement, Perfect World announced it will no longer have an in-game shop, and any in-game purchases that players already made during the alpha period will be refunded. This ties into another major shift--Torchlight Frontiers was to be a free-to-play game supported by microtransactions, while Torchlight 3 will be a premium purchase from the start. It will be available on Steam.
Another big change comes to the always-online requirement. Players will be able to create online or offline characters. Online characters will check in with the servers to reduce cheating, whereas offline characters can be played without any connection. That feature is still incoming though, as Alpha players don't have access to offline characters quite yet.
Frontiers was originally posed as the next evolution of the Torchlight franchise with a connected online experience. Developer Echtra Games says the game changed over the course of alpha testing and has become something more akin to the previous two Torchlight games.
Runic Games, which developed the prior Torchlight games, closed after its release of the adventure game Hob. Echtra Games took the reigns on Frontiers, and is now continuing with its work on Torchlight 3--but keeping a little closer to its origins. Torchlight 2 was originally a PC-only game, but was recently ported to consoles. Similarly, Torchlight 3 will launch on Steam and is planned for a console release sometime later.