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The Future of Trion

ArcheAge Trion Worlds

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.

  • I think Rift will do very well with it’s F2P model. I played it for about a month back around when it first went F2P and was pleasantly surprised by the game. Sadly with FF14 beta going on and other non-MMO games out at the time, I just couldn’t see myself playing it much. I think if I had checked Rift out sooner, I would’ve gladly subscribed or played F2P, but at the time I kept comparing it to WoW – which I’ve grown completely tired of at this point. If FF14 wasn’t so close to launching, I’d probably be playing Rift right now actually.

    Defiance I knew was going to bomb from back when I first heard about it at last year’s E3. It was a neat idea, but having the game affect the TV show’s plot and vice versa just can’t work. Too much planning goes into TV shows for stuff to be changed for the game. Not to mention that, sadly, sci-fi television just isn’t that popular these days outside of Doctor Who.

    I don’t know enough about End of Nations or ArcheAge to comment, but if Eastern gamers aren’t too happy with it, I don’t really see it doing too well over here. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  • after so many analysis on the MMO genre and so many reads of “what is wrong”, why the company do x or y” and so on…I have another view on things. Instead of trying to find deep causes and overanalyse, I just believe that the problem is that too many MMO exist and many of them are “free”.

    That in result make people more “resistant” to hard working MMOs. When you put an obstacle to players they have 2 options..either do their best to overcome this or quit. In the old days the “quit” wasn’t an option cause there wasn’t much things around as alternatives…so people was “forced” to become better players(have more patience, more social, better combat skills). Now they easily quit because they “think” that the other MMO is more the end result is the tourist MMO player.

    In that environment, companies need to either make solid choices for the game and wish/pray there will be enough players that like niche products and willing to overcome obstacles, or go the other way to design a them-park MMO trying to reward player often enough to keep him happy, whatever this player do.

    But it seems that the niche community are too small and can only be few niche games which will never get super success and the rest of the community hardly leaves wow for anything else for more than a month..In that state, I wonder what a man can do to bring success to a “mediorce” good luck Scott Hartsman…

  • @FireBomberSeven
    ” sci-fi television just isn’t that popular these days outside of Doctor Who” Em what?
    Continuum, Failing skies, Defiance (getting better), W13, Walking Dead!

    Doctor Who is for kids..

    Rift is too WOW like though

  • Where I come from Dr. Who is a religion. Not mine, I hasten to add.

    I thought Scott Hartsman’s return to Trion was the flat-out weirdest MMO news this year. He only just left! I was hoping he might have gone to EQNext. Hard to imagine what he can do for Trion at this stage – he’s best known as an excellent Project Manager but they don’t seem to have re-hired him in that capacity. Even if they had, what projects have they ot to manage? I can’t see ArcheAge bringing home the bacon, somehow.

  • I’m not sure how we got on the subject, but Dr. Who is AWESOME!

    I thought Hartsman disagreed strongly with the direction Trion was going. Maybe I’m remembering wrong. But that’s kind of the gist of what I’m saying. Right now Trion doesn’t have a lot to manage, so they must be going in a new direction.