A few days ago it was announced that Trion was acquired by Gamigo, a company that I knew very little about in truth because it catered to an end of the MMO market that I don’t spend much time in. As a result there were massive layoffs at Trion Worlds. I am not exactly sure what the starting number was but it is reported that they are down to a shell of 25 people. Essentially with one action all of the people that I knew that worked for Trion… no longer do… with the exception of one that I am not entirely certain about the fate of. I have a feeling that the 25 remaining will only be there during the transition period. At least with SOE being purchased by Daybreak, it felt that the name changed but the company as a whole was going to continue trying to do the same thing. This however feels like a completely different beast.
If you follow the course that Gamigo has taken it sort of fits the pattern of a company trying to gobble up intellectual property. Here is a little timeline that I was able to cobble together rapidly this morning.
- February 2013 – Acquires Outspark the publishers of Fiesta Online.
- September 2014 – Acquires Intenium – which is labelled as “a publisher and distributor of casual games designed for females” whatever the hell that means.
- May 2016 – Acquires Aeria Games – a bunch of Korean localized MMOs – the only one of which I have played is Echo of Soul.
- July 2016 – Acquires Highdigit – which appears to be a SaaS CRM sort of platform that targets marketing and sale of games.
- August 2016 – Acquires HoneyTracks – which appears to be a game focused Analytics company.
- March 2017 – Acquires MMO Games – which you will know for MMOGames.com a site that I wrote for briefly a few years back, and largely dissolved my relationship with because while the other writers were awesome… the company behind it always felt a little sleazy.
- July 2017 – Acquires Mediakraft Networks – which proclaims to be an “Online Television Network”. It sorta looks like a German language BuzzFeed?
- October 2018 – Acquires Trion Worlds – which of course is the reason why we are here reading this post in the first place.
So there is a pattern here… grab IP content, grab distribution and analytics, and then grab media networks to advertise your products. It makes sense but it also doesn’t exactly make me have warm fuzzies about the way this is being set up. The ultimate question is going to be how they manage Trion games like Rift going forward. Do they crank the loot box and gacha dial up to 11, or do they leave things largely running as is? I said above that the only Gamigo game that I had played was Echo of Soul… which I got access to while I was still at MMOGames.com. This was technically before the site was acquired but regardless… it now feels a little odd. I was going to write a review of the game, but quite frankly I had nothing positive to say about it. It felt like a cheaply made generic MMO that didn’t have open world areas… but instead these Guild Wars 1 style on rails “corridors” that you traversed between regions.
I didn’t end up writing the review because I knew it would never see print. There had been another game that I felt was extremely cheaply made, and wrote what I felt was a fair assessment of its positives and negatives. I focused on the few things that I did enjoy about it, but the final product wound up being about 50% positives, 50% negatives. The article never saw the light of day however because the company behind the game was a big advertiser, and as a result wanted positive press to push their product. I felt like anything I would write about Echo of Soul would be a similar experience so I politely declined the article and moved on with my life. While I legitimately stopped writing for the site because of personal reasons… it was events like this… that made me feel not exactly comfortable having my name associated with it. I’ve been torn for years about this reaction because I had a lot of really good friends who relied and still do technically rely on a paycheck from the site.
Basically I am at this point where I have deep concerns about the fate of the Trion Worlds games, because I am not entirely certain that Gamigo cares about these games or their communities. I legitimately think this is a grab for more potential revenue streams, just like they made grabs to cover the marketing, distribution, analytics and advertising. Gamigo seems to have assembled this machine for pushing MMO games hard to grind out whatever profits that they can get from them. On the Wiki there is a list of fifteen games that they have discontinued, this doesn’t include the five that were announced but never made it to production, or the three that they lost the licensing rights for. None of this really makes me feel like my stable of characters in Rift… or the time that I put into Trion or ArcheAge are really going to be safe.
I don’t want to be all doom and gloom… but ultimately I have some deep concerns about this move. The problem is… MMORPGs are fighting over what seems to be a static pool of players. We are likely going to see more of this in the future rather than less of it, as the properties that have been struggling for awhile find a new home in a potentially less than reputable environment. Ultimately… play and support the games you love because there is the real possibility that at some point they simply won’t be there… or else may be so changed that they are barely recognizable from their former selves.