Trion hit by mass layoffs

Defiance developer reportedly makes deep cuts to staff, Rift and other games "unaffected"

The Defiance TV show is doing well, setting viewership records for Syfy and being picked up for a second season. The transmedia tie-in Defiance game is apparently another story entirely.

According to IGN, developer Trion Worlds instituted a huge round of layoffs today, with the site's sources putting the figure at more than half--possibly as much as 80 percent--of the workforce. IGN is also reporting that some senior developers are being denied severance packages due to "undelivered services."

Trion issued a statement about the cuts, saying, "To best position Trion in a rapidly changing industry, we have reorganized our teams and are expanding our free-to-play offering." The company said it will continue creating new content for the game, and that the rest of its games "were unaffected by these changes." Earlier this week, Trion announced that one such title, the subscription-based fantasy MMORPG Rift, would be converted to a free-to-play game.

As for Defiance, the game launched a couple weeks ahead of its tie-in TV show, landing on shelves April 2 and passing the 1 million registered user mark within a month of launch. It has been in development for five years.

[UPDATE] A Trion Worlds representative has told GamesIndustry International that the 80 percent figure reported is "grossly incorrect."

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Latest comments (5)

Tim Ogul Illustrator 9 years ago
I tried Defiance, and thought it was ok, but it just wasn't worth a $50 box purchase. You can get Borderlands 2 for less than half that this weekend on Steam. Defiance is on sale this weekend too, but still for more than BL2. I kinda want to buy it, but not at more than about $20, especially with the implied threat of paid DLCs on the horizon rather than GW2-style free updates.
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Samuel Verner Game Designer 9 years ago
I played the beta... and de-installed the game after 3 hours. I couldn't find a single reason to continue and I doubt that some uninspired DLC would change that. The design was too much of the "look how MMOs are currently designed and lets do the same" thing. Like someone used a MMOG-randomizer engine, switched the subgenre selector to "FPS" and hit the "Randomize Themepark MMOG now" button. But it is funny to see that everyone sill tries to built up on the old WoW concept and wonders why the heck they don't get 10 million MAU.

I just hope that the genre dies very soon and that in some years someone with talent and some really fresh ideas comes along to pick it up again. When I remember back in the days when I played SWG and tought "This is so incredible! The open gameworld is so big and everywhere are players and everything is so detailed, seamless, with endless possibilites. I can also have my own shop, which I designed and let a droid sell the stuff my factories produced ... how will MMOGs be in 10 years from now? They must be like a real and living world by then!" Man was I wrong. They made a stupid Disneyland out of it and wonder why the visitors don't come back, once they 've grown up.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 19th May 2013 1:34am

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Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd9 years ago
It was a bold move and the team was punching way above their weight. I wish the very best to all affected.
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Josh Meier9 years ago
Considering RIFT is going Free to Play next month, I feel like perhaps the performance of RIFT is contributing to the layoffs. As for the Defiance MMO, I haven't heard a whole lot that's good about it, so I steered clear of it.
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Tim Ogul Illustrator 9 years ago
The threat of paid DLC's? They have announced at least 5 PDLC items are coming already
Right, that's what I mean, if they were to say "this is the game you get for $50, but you can play it forever and any updates we make will be entirely free," then it would barely be worth it. But by saying "This is what you get for $50, and it'll be $5-10 every few months to get upgrades to that," in the case of this particular game it just isn't worth it. IF they'd released the game at $20 with occasional $5 upgrades, I probably would have picked it up.
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