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Trion president and CCO departs suddenly

Thu 23 Apr 2009 9:25pm GMT / 5:25pm EDT / 2:25pm PDT
OnlinePublishingDevelopment

Co-founder Jon Van Caneghem has 'transitioned out of his role'

Trion World Networks president, co-founder and chief creative officer Jon Van Caneghem has departed from the company, according to a statement from the US-based developer.

According to a statement issued to consumer blog Joystiq, Van Caneghem "has transitioned out of his role as president and no longer holds any operational responsibilities at Trion. His creative and operational roles have been distributed among the talented senior team."

The statement went on to say that the departure "is a part of the natural evolution of the growing company," and that the studio "will always rely on its core belief that great teams plus great processes make great games."

This statement comes in response to an "inflammatory" anonymous tip sent to the blog which, though unpublished, allegedly detailed the departure and "the current state of the company" in a negative light.

Jon Van Caneghem is a veteran with over 25 years experience of the games industry, who formed developer New World Computing in 1983 and is credited as the creator of the Might and Magic series of role-playing games, as well as its strategy game spin-off franchise Heroes of Might and Magic. Prior to forming Trion, Von Caneghem was last seen in a brief stint as executive producer at MMO developer NCsoft North.

GamesIndustry.biz has made several attempts to contact Trion Worlds for clarification. Thus far emails have remained unanswered, and an attempted phone call to the operator extension of Trion's phone lines were forwarded to the mobile phone of an unnamed representative of the company, who said that a follow-up email correspondence should come within 24 hours.

Trion World Network was founded in 2006 by Von Caneghem and colleague Dr Lars Buttler, former president for global online at Electronic Arts. The company has raised substantial venture capital and hired significant industry talent, but has yet to show a product.

In early 2007 Trion announced a partnership with Hewlett Packard to build a multi-platform gaming service that has yet to materialise.

Later in 2007, Trion announced that it had raised USD 30 million in funding to, according to the press release, "develop and publish new connected games and entertainment franchises."

GamesIndustry.bizinterviewed Buttler in November of 2007. Though the company had no titles to announce, Buttler gave some details on the "Trion platform" the company had developed, calling it "a next-generation, fully dynamic, multi-device platform for server-based games."

In March of 2008, having still not announced a product, Buttler called Activision CEO Bobby Kotick's assertion that it would take between USD 500 million and USD 1 billion to overtake World of Warcraft a bluff. Later that month, he clarified to GamesIndustry.biz that Trion was "not trying to compete with WOW" directly.

In June of 2008 Trion announced its first product, a fantasy-themed MMORPG licensed for publication on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms in North America and Europe - a title allegedly headed by Van Caneghem. Trion also announced a second project, an MMO to be released in tandem with a Sci-Fi Channel television program. Neither game has yet been seen by the public or press.

In September of 2008, Trion announced another USD 70 million in funding, which Buttler described as "necessary for us to build up and eventually launch Trion as an online publishing organisation," specifying that the company's needs included development funding, distribution, sales, marketing "and so on."

We last heard from Trion when it announced it had joined the Entertainment Software Association earlier this week, with Buttler saying that with the association's support, Trion would "continue to develop and publish dynamic, connected games on the Trion Platform, as Trion strives to lead our industry in its transformation from packaged goods software to games as a service."

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