Scott Hartsman, former Creative Director, has returned to Trion as CEO after taking a brief period to… well, I’m not sure what he was doing. Now that he’s back, maybe things will change for Trion. I love strategy — especially marketing strategy — and as I watch this company roller-coaster up and down, I’m intrigued by the path they have ahead of them.
Trion is in an interesting place right now. Rift seems to be doing okay — not great, but okay. I think the F2P model is serving them well. Defiance is a total bust, and now in the bargain bin. The strategy was flawed from the beginning. Trying to combine a TV show with a MMO was innovative, and innovation goes hand in hand with failure, but the execution of a Borderlands style loot grinder and a game that doesn’t follow the TV show close enough was a recipe for disaster.
I think they have another weird title in development called End of Nations. All I really know about the game is what I read all over the place: It wasn’t that great so they shelved it. Now it’s back and in development again.
Last but not least is ArcheAge. The Korean sandbox game being published by Trion might be a big gamble. From what I’ve read, it’s flopping in Korea. I don’t know if that’s something to celebrate, as I rarely enjoy games loved by Eastern gamers due to the cultural differences, or not. In a way, ArcheAge is … this sounds harsh, but it’s all that Trion has going for them at the moment. I’m extremely excited to give ArcheAge a try. I love the promise of a virtual world. But from a business perspective, and knowing this market as I do, I feel very uneasy.
Scott Hartsman has stated he believes the AAA model is completely broken. It might be. The F2P model isn’t looking so hot right now either, though. Perhaps ArcheAge will do really well for Trion in North America, but in the end they will still need to reinvent themselves as a company. That has to be a fun challenge. How do you take a company with a mediocre to moderately successful MMO (recently gone F2P), with a failed attempt at an Action-Shooter-MMO, publishing a Korean MMO, and give it a direction? Will they go for the leader role that SoE taking, or fall back on the niche market? Personally, I doubt they’ll try playing the challenger role again.
As much fun as it will be to watch, I bet it’s 10x more fun to make it happen. Good luck, Trion! I’m rooting for you.