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Rift sales up, player counts "way up" with switch to free-to-play

Trion Worlds' SVP of marketing talks Rift, Defiance, and changes in marketing

Trion Worlds has had an eventful year in 2013, with the introduction of the grand cross-media experiment Defiance, the Rift MMORPG going free-to-play, layoffs, closing the company's San Diego studio to consolidate in Redwood City, and the return of former CCO Scott Hartsman to become CEO of Trion Worlds.

Speaking to Trion Worlds SVP of marketing Noah Maffitt, the [a]list daily discussed the transition of the MMORPG Rift from subscription to free-to-play. "I'm actually very pleased with how the team has executed on it," Maffitt said. "It was a planned transition that's taken months and months to do. They've thought through all the little details very well. We actually saw our sales go up after we announced free-to-play, because we think we have a compelling package around that transition. Our player counts have gone way up, as well. All early signs are good."

Trion Worlds SVP Noah Maffitt

Trion's other big gamble for the year was the Defiance transmedia game/TV show, a years-long effort by Trion and Syfy to create synergies between the two media, that is still evolving. "We're figuring out what works and what doesn't, we're testing a lot of different things," said Maffitt. "We're testing different price points for the client, we're testing different promotion around bit sales which is the in-game currency. You listen to the in-game chatter, but that can give you a lot of false signals. A few minority voices can lead the conversation in a way that isn't really truthful or accurate. What we pay attention to is the real behavior, and we're testing that all the time."

The changes in the industry have of necessity meant changes in marketing games. "Marketing is a lot more creative, and a lot more analytical," Maffitt pointed out. "The old model of making a really big bet, investing tens of millions of dollars in a big launch, that will still happen but I think it will be fewer and fewer titles that will really succeed in doing that. You'll see a broader base of other titles that grow through a slow build and analytically rich marketing."

Read more about what Maffitt has to say about the game industry's advantages for marketers on our sister site, the [a]list daily.

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Steve Peterson avatar
Steve Peterson: Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.
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