ArcheAge consumer lawsuit hits snag: Trion Worlds’ corporate dissolution

    
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Remember that player lawsuit lodged against Trion Worlds back in 2015? The one where ArcheAge players Aaron Van Fleet, Paul Ovberg, and James Longfield alleged that Trion violated consumer laws, falsely advertised a 10% founder perk discount for its cash shop, and broke California’s illegal lottery law? It was still going as of this past summer, but as MMO Fallout noticed, it’s hit a snag: the fact that Trion Worlds no longer exists, as it sold off its assets and let go its staff last week.

Defense attorneys representing Trion in the lawsuit filed paperwork last Friday noting that their client had “suddenly disbanded” and that “all of the employees of Trion have been terminated effective October 22.”

“The board of directors, officers, general counsel and employees 0f TWI resigned effective October 22, 2018. It is the undersigned’s understand that TWI is to formally dissolve as corporate person within the next 60 days. It is also the present understanding of the undersigned that TWI assets have been purchased from TWI—ABC by Gamigo, Germany-based game publisher. Defense counsel first became aware on October 18, 201 of the transfer of assets of TWI to take place on October 22, 201 and the corporate dissolution of TWI t0 follow shortly thereafter.”

Previously, Trion Worlds representatives had implied that a small team – reported to be around 25 people out of the 200 or so originally employed – had been retained through the layoffs to (we assumed) aid with the transition of the games to Gamigo. (“Transition” was the word used by Brasse.) For these documents to be accurate, that transition team would have to be under the employ of Gamigo, not Trion, meaning that everyone at Trion was technically laid off last week.

As we’ve previously reported, ArcheAge is potentially the game most at-risk, as Trion was merely its western publisher and not an easily transferable asset. The game’s lead producer at Trion, who was apparently one of those kept on, has told players that negotiations with the game’s South Korean owners at XL Games continued as of October 25th.

“In-person meetings are taking place between all administrative parties; transactions of this nature are a lengthy process–and are complicated by the distance–but we continue to move forward. We’re working to reach agreement between all groups by early next week. Identifying a new release date for the 5.0 Relics of Hiram update will be our immediate next priority. We regret that we aren’t able to provide more frequent updates. This is due to us wanting to communicate concrete information instead of addressing speculation while mid-negotiations.”

The Trove Twitter account remains active as well; the last post from the community manager was just a few minutes before this article was published.

MMORPG players will recall that Trion games were hit with layoffs this past summer, after which the studio vigorously insisted that the company was fine and that the games had long-term prospects. Similarly, in August, when we were tipped off that large numbers of staffers at the company were being furloughed, Trion told us it was an “administrative” issue and nothing to worry about. Studio reps did not return a request for comment last week.

Get caught up on Trion:

Source: MMO Fallout. Cheers, Wilhelm!
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A Dad Supreme

“The board of directors, officers, general counsel and employees 0f TWI resigned effective October 22, 2018.”
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…in fact, we’re not anywhere anymore!

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

scott hartsman sent me an email(i know it wasnt him but he signed it and is therefore responsible for it)about buying my info from gazillion after they bought it.

what a deplorable dude.

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A Dad Supreme

That was an important part of leveraging Trion for the sale. Hartsman had to boost the ‘assets’ of the company and Trove wasn’t going to do it.

Basically, selling your/my/everyone’s name as info allows Gamigo to then re-sell that info to anyone else they want and they don’t need your/my/everyone’s permission to do it.

I wouldn’t worry though. I’m sure Gamigo will be extremely responsible with gamer’s information.

The funny part was when MOP reported Trion bought the assets, all these people posting “Looks like Trion might re-open the game!” lol

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Greaterdivinity

So if Gamigo does acquire ArcheAge publishing rights, the lawsuit should continue with them as defendant. You want to acquire some assets with legal liability associated with it? You get the legal liability.

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styopa

IANAL but agreed.
Otherwise, I’d have to expect that this is a pretty landmark case; I can think of a lot of internet scammers that would love to have it established in precedent that one can derail a fraud lawsuit by simply dissolving the corporation thus protecting the officers from any personal liability.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

That reminds me I’ve got a few business schemes, I mean internet marketing strategies to get crowd sourcing for!

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Connor

There’s a legal term for this: Fraudulent Conveyance, it refers to transferring assets to a third party to prevent a plaintiff in an ongoing or forseeable lawsuit from seizing them, in a way that is below market value and prevents you from being able to pay whatever debt is coming. It’s a civil matter, not a criminal one, and it would be up to the plaintiffs to argue. The judge is able to restore assets if they are found liable of fraudulent conveyance, and California does have some laws that go past civil penalties in rare cases.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Would Germany honor that decision though, since it isn’t an American company that won the Trion the Blow Out Sale?

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Roger Melly

Did Gamigo acquire the AA publishing rights ? I have seen quite a few people questioning whether that would be part of the deal or whether in the event of dissolution of Trion as a company they would revert back to XL Games who would then be free to find a new publisher of their choosing .

If you think about it Gamigo had nothing to do with violating any consumer laws that may or may have not happened on Trions watch so if they have retained the publishing rights to Archeage I seriously doubt they will have any liability for what another company has done .

Mind you I could be wrong in that assumption I guess we will all find out in due course .

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Connor

This is questionable. I inquired about this since I’m in law school and thus surrounded by lawyers, and couldn’t get a definitive yes or no about the lawsuit because we don’t know details behind the transaction. It’s less likely given the nature of the transaction that Gamigo would inherit the lawsuit, and if it stays with Trion Worlds you’re basically looking at a defendant with little to no assets so good luck with recovery.

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Paul

I’d be astonished if Trion’s publishing rights were transferable to any random 3rd party as part of a trade sale. Almost certainly the agreement with XL Games will lapse when Trion ceases trading – Legally XL Games are most likely shopping for a new publisher right now (and that may or may not be Gamingo), which will entail a brand new contract.

As far as the “liability” is concerned, as of now there is no liability. At most its a contingent liability of Trion’s which will die with that company.

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Aaron Fleet

x

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Armsbend

Hopefully they can take the lawsuit straight to XL or possibly Gamingo. Chase ArcheAge until it is gone.

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Peregrine Falcon

It doesn’t work that way. The “person” they were suing, Trion Worlds, is dead. They no longer exist. Gamingo simply bought their stuff, and is in no way responsible for Trion’s actions.

And they can’t really sue XL Games either. XL Games didn’t violate any laws.

So basically they need to just drop their suit and move on .

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Armsbend

Monsanto lost a huge lawsuit concerning glyphosate recently. After the lawsuit Bayer bought them. Now Bayer owes the money.

The lawsuit is still active if the attorneys progress with it.

tl;dr you are wrong. you don’t get out of a lawsuit when you sell the assets. otherwise people would simply rebrand all of the time.

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Paul

An important distinction is that Bayer bought the company Monsanto. Legally this is a very different transaction to a trade and assets purchase. The latter leaves all historic contingent liabilities behind in the old company, the former does not.