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Trion Concerns

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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.

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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.

 

4 thoughts on “Trion Concerns

  1. I don’t really follow all the doom and gloom over the Trion buyout. Firstly, as Nosey Gamer discovered, Trion was going out of business anyway and secondly, given that nothing Gamigo bought from Trion would seem to have any value whatsoever outside of the games as they operate, it’s very hard to come up with any reason they’d have paid even the “low double digit millions of dollars” they did unless they plan on keeping the games going. I mean, what else would you do with those IPs?

    Gamigo has a big stable of MMOs and many of them have been running for years. Eden Eternal, which is an MMO I’ve played and which I like, for example, is as old as Rift. I would expect the games to carry on much as they are although I very much doubt they’ll see much (or anything) in the way of new content. It could have been a lot worse…

  2. As I noted on my post, Gamigo site indicates that they manage all of these games with a staff that is barely larger than what Trion had overall and which is probably less than the team that just works on WoW at Blizzard. That does not leave one exactly hopeful for updates or expansions to anything they buy.

    @Marathal – Heh, Elon would have to cash out of some things before he could buy Fortnite. He likes to talk a lot. As for Morhaime, he would need a lot more than 800 million to buy the rights to WoW. And while I am sure he is very well off, the founders of Blizz sold it off back in 1994 so he has been an employee, not an owner, for a long long time. Employees can be well compensated, but not to the tune of nearly a billion dollars.
    Wilhelm Arcturus recently posted..Gamigo Buys then Guts Trion WorldsMy Profile

  3. I had an opportunity briefly to read all of the archived and admin only forums for the old Shadowpriest dot com. I read all of the positive things that zizzero planned with the site, offering tickets to Blizzcon and other ideas they had. It sounded great. All they did was set up advertising software, and set it on automatic. They would pop on to repair something if they noticed it was down after a few days, but it was just there to generate advertising clicks. I think when I had looked them up back in 2012, they only had a few employees. It seems they are no longer around, or were bought out by others.

    I’ve seen the meme going around about Elon Musk buying Fortnite and deleting the game. It’s a scary thought. I wonder too if there may come a point where Mike Morhaime offers Activision 800 million for the rights to WoW, if they would take the money. He surely has it to do so.

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