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Trion: $70m will bring plans "to fruition"

Latest investment enough to "launch Trion as an online publishing organisation"

Lars Buttler, CEO of US-based online publisher Trion World Network, has told that the company's latest round of investment - to the tune of USD 70 million - is enough to enable it to bring its plans "to fruition" with respect to publishing its first MMO in the future.

"This round of funding was necessary for us to build up and eventually launch Trion as an online publishing organisation," said Buttler. "Online publishing requires all the things you would think of when you think of publishing: funding development, distribution, sales, marketing, and so on.

"But online publishing adds new requirements for some traditional elements, namely finance/billing and customer support - for finance we need to deal with a large volume of direct to consumer billing and customer support takes on a much larger role for a service-based business.

"Finally, online publishing requires unique elements, like network operations and server hosting. To put it briefly, the simple act of publishing is a capital-based endeavour, and with this latest round we are now prepared to bring all of this to fruition," he added.

And asked if he was surprised to see such a level of investment in an entertainment company given the current economic downturn in the West, Buttler said that he wasn't.

"I don't find it surprising for a couple of reasons: The first reason is that our business plan involves generating revenue and mitigating risk in a market segment that operates on significantly higher margins giving us a high profitability profile - we aren't a dotcom company praying for views and acquisition," he explained. "We have great products in development and the ability to get them in the hands of consumers.

"The second reason is that Trion is positioned to take advantage of a fundamental shift on how people will choose to acquire and consume entertainment. Either one of those reasons alone is a powerful story, but the combination pushes Trion forward as a great investment opportunity."

He also cited the changing nature of the videogames market, and echoed others such as Alex Evans of Media Molecule in talking about "games as a service".

"The worldwide online games market is projected to increase from USD 6.4 billion in 2007 to USD 11.9 billion by 2011," he said. "After 30 years, the videogame industry is moving from package goods to 'games as a service,' creating new leadership opportunities for companies who successfully pioneer a much needed change in the business model and gameplay experience.

"Our strategic entertainment and technology partnerships along with our record-level investments will enable us to dominate during the next cycle of the gaming market."

He didn't let slip any new details on the first of Trion's products to be published - the John Van Caneghem-led fantasy MMO - but he did reveal that the company's partnership with the Sci Fi Channel was developing well.

"We have passed the point of educating each other on 'this is how you build a game' or 'this is how you make a TV pilot.' We are really getting into a solid, creative rhythm.

"The process is very, very collaborative with ideas passing back and forth between us and Sci Fi. The most exciting thing for both sides is that every day we realise we are working on something that truly has never been done before and that is very energising. The possibilities of what we can accomplish are simply amazing," he added.