The news hasn’t been good for the Defiance and Rift creator Trion Worlds lately. After announcing the return of End of Nations as a strategic MOBA game the company has entered the headlines with negative story after another. It seems to have begun with the exit of Nathan Richardsson, the former Executive Producer for Defiance, the company’s MMO shooter tie-in with Syfy. Chris Lena, former producer of End of Nations, is now the new man in charge of Defiance.
From that seemingly innocuous industry shift began a whirlwind of changes. Scott Hartsman, who left the company as the chief creative officer for Rift returned two weeks after Richardsson departed. His entrance gave hint to the incoming changes, but didn’t truly articulate the breadth and speed at which they’d be put in place.
“We’re going to rapidly be laying the groundwork for a new strategy for Trion — one that’s closer to the foundation of how we’ve had our wins so far” he stated.
That happened on August 8, 2013. The same day, Trion Worlds confirmed to PC gamer that the company had closed its San Diego-based studio. Formerly the home to Defiance, the work and a number of people were transitioned to the Redwood City establishment. Development is to continue alongside the teams for Rift, ArcheAge and End of Nations.
Less than a week later, the UK Studios got the axe. Its closure eliminated 12 non-development jobs as the Guildford, UK studios focused on publishing duties. In the announcement the studio made the branch seem redundant, detailing that no European localization efforts will be impacted because “all regional game development and support continues from Redwood City”.
Ever a slick marketing company, Trion’s senior VP of marketing, Noah Maffitt, took to [a]listdaily to address certain fears. The interview focuses on the business side of the video game industry but sheds light on some important facts to players. Most importantly, the outlook for the company, and Rift specifically, is rosy. The (begrudged) F2P transition was smooth, increasing sales and the playerbase.
Interesting to me from the marketing side was and remains the company’s willingness to adapt its marketing, and thus development, to address feedback quickly. The company has nailed this with Defiance moving quickly in the lesser known sci-fi MMO shooter space than the more common fantasy setting of Rift.