Did you see this one coming? VentureBeat has a piece out this morning interviewing Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman, who’s apparently just revealed that Trion’s bought up all of Gazillion Entertainment, or what’s left of its assets, anyway.
Gazillion, of course, infamously shuttered along with its core MMORPG, Marvel Heroes, last autumn following weeks of missed content, an apparent failed contract renogotiation, a sexual harassment scandal, and ultimately Disney’s rescinding of the Marvel license, driving the studio into bankruptcy. At the time, we called it the worst-managed MMORPG sunset of all time.
It looks like the goal for Trion here isn’t necessarily to save or remake Marvel Heroes (although that would be fun, and VB notes Trion has picked up an isometric game engine as part of the package) but to bolster its publishing for MMOs specifically, something MMO players will recall Trion’s been working on for the last few years with Glyph, where Trion’s existing games – including RIFT, Trove, ArcheAge, and Defiance – currently dwell.
really needs to be given some credit for striking out in a different direction when the rest of the PvP scene was shamelessly copycatting League of Legends
and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
. The turn-based strategy game had more in common with Advance Wars and chess than your typical MOBA and remains rather unique in the genre space.
Well now the Chinese can experience that unique flavor, as Trion Worlds announced that Atlas Reactor has arrived in that country and is available through Steam. The free-to-play game is the second (after Trove) that Trion launched in the region and brings the full game up through the current start of Season Six.
“Atlas Reactor’s exciting and competitive take on the turn-based strategy genre as well as its compelling cast of characters make it a great fit for China,” said CEO Scott Hartsman. “Chinese players have fully embraced Trove and have been asking for a fully localized version of Atlas Reactor as well, and we couldn’t be happier to bring it to them.”
Here is something kind of neat: Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman sitting down with NBC’s Press:Here to talk about video game violence and game ratings. Hartsman came on the program in response to the US administration’s claims that video games are too violent and one of the causes of school violence.
“There are contraindicators of video game play and actual real-world committing violence,” Hartsman said. “I think that at the end of the day, studying actual facts will lead us in a much better direction.”
Other members of the panel said that this is a small distraction for the White House and that it will quickly move on from using video games as a scapegoat for recent school shootings.
announced today that Trove
is launching in Japan on PS4 this spring, with closed beta coming “soon.” You’ll recall it launched in China last year
“Trion Worlds is focused on bringing our games to people all over the world, and expanding into Japan marks some exciting things for the future,” Trion CEO Scott Hartsman teased. “Trove is playable in over eight languages, with more being added very soon. We are fully aware of Trove’s global appeal, and we’ll only continue to grow and build the experience for even more audiences.”
Meanwhile, the cutesy voxelbox is one of Twitch’s darling this month; if you’re a Twitch Prime subber, you can pick up a bunch of new goodies, including a couple of mounts. Course, you’ll have to link up your Twitch and Trion accounts to get ’em.
Following the initial announcement
of RIFT Prime
and the ensuing details
that started to come out of Trion Worlds on the progression server, we had many of the same questions, confusion, and concerns that some of you have expressed. So we reached out to Trion Worlds for further clarification on the concept and progress of the Prime server ruleset, and Producer Amanda Fry came back at us with responses to explain just what’s going on behind the scenes.
An extensive Twitter thread from former Star Wars: The Old Republic lead systems designer Damion Schubert grappled with the timely and touchy topic of lockboxes and microtransactions from the perspective of one who designed them.
Schubert said that designers can make lockboxes that aren’t pure evil: “I’ve been working in free-to-play games for four years, and lootboxes are pretty crucial to that business model working. But it is possible to do them ethically, and they are super easy to f**k up.”
“Good [microtransactions] design is an art,” he continued. “It requires designers to be equal partners with product managers to come up with something that is perceived as fair and is celebrated […] MTX will fail if it doesn’t feel good to spend. It will fail if it creates a poisonous environment around the game instead of excitement.”
Last week, the Entertainment Software Association, the video game trade association you probably know best from its stewardship of E3, released a contentious statement praising the tax reform proposal currently before congress, claiming the bill will “energize tech sector innovation and economic opportunity. For the $30.4 billion US video game industry, which employs more than 220,000 people all across the United States, the pro-growth policies introduced will incentivize greater US investment and more high-quality American jobs.”
And while the large gaming publishers repped by the ESA might be comfy with that position, it didn’t go over well with actual game developers, including some MMO devs, who reacted loudly on twitter (twice) in rejecting the ESA’s position as being representative of or beneficial to workers.
“20 year game industry veteran here,” Riot’s Greg Street wrote (you’ll remember him from his tenure at Blizzard). “You don’t represent my views. Like at all.”
A business-oriented piece on Delidded Tech overnight seems to have rustled up Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman in response.
Delidded digs into this week’s shareholder report from Fidelity’s Contrafund, which he believes holds convertible bonds in the long-running MMORPG studio. Author Skilliard posits both in the article and on Reddit that “the interest rate on the bond [12%] indicates that the company may be at significant risk of default,” a claim he salts further by recalling what he terms Trion’s “history of layoffs over the past five years.”
On Reddit, Hartsman says that it’s true that “one of Fidelity’s funds has had a small stake in Trion since long before [his] time in [the] job” but suggests there’s nothing to worry about because Delidded’s characterization of the funding as convertible bonds is incorrect; they are actually payment-in-kind bonds from four years ago, which explains the high interest rate.
When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.
But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.
It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.
Voxel sandbox Trove
has formally launched on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One today, having been in open beta on both consoles since December
. Trion says it’s now “captivated nearly five million” players across both consoles, which by our estimate makes for about 10 million players total, including those already on PC.
Trove “has become one of the largest free-to-play console releases of all time during its successful Open Beta,” the studio says, “with thousands of unique worlds being built by players and tens of millions of hours logged in the game before it’s even officially launched.”
Existing beta characters and plots should be just as you left them as the studio promised no more wipes past closed beta. The game is free-to-play on both platforms. Check out the launch trailer below!
Voxel sandbox Trove’s
been in open beta on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
for only a few short months, but it’s already gathered “nearly four million” players across both consoles, according to a Trion Worlds
press release this morning, which also notes that “Trove’s
industrious console players have also placed more than one billion blocks in the Trove
world, while destroying more than 5 billion!”
Back in December, Trion counted 5 million players on all platforms, including PC. Now, the company says that combined number is “almost 10 million.” CEO Scott Hartsman says that “Trove is already dominating the Free to Play charts.”
Trion is planning an official launch on both consoles on March 14th, but don’t worry: Your characters and blocks are safe, as the studio promised no more wipes past closed beta. Just make sure you log in before the switchover and claim your free mounts!
On Monday, we covered some of the MMORPG companies speaking out against new immigration policy that opponents of the current US administration have dubbed a “Muslim ban.” Add to that list none other than World of Warcraft studio Blizzard, whose CEO, Mike Morhaime, issued a letter to the company telling employees that he shared their concerns over the impact to the company and genre and in fact has already dispatched company resources to help those employees directly affected. He then writes,
“The executive order strikes an incredibly sharp contrast with the values on which our company was founded. We are, and will always be, a company that strives for inclusion, embraces diversity, and treats one another with respect. This is the very foundation of what makes not just our company — but America — great, which is why I am so troubled by these actions. Regardless of where you are from or what your religious beliefs are, our strength is in our diversity.”
Blizzard joins Electronic Arts, Bethesda, the ESA, GDC organizers, and notable genre figures including Raph Koster and Scott Hartsman in criticizing the government policy.
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You might want to keep politics out of gaming, but politics has a way of forcing itself in the door no matter what.
Multiple MMO developers and video game convention organizers have now spoken out against Friday’s so-called “Muslim ban” and ensuing national and international crisis promulgated by the current U.S. government. The long-running Game Developers Conference (GDC) denounced the executive order in a tweet promising refunds for developers now barred from attending the late February event in San Francisco due to their nation of origin.