Gamigo Buys then Guts Trion Worlds

I used to be on the press mailing list for Gamigo, and the opinion I formed of them based on that wasn’t exactly stellar.  They seemed like a publisher of second tier MMOs that often had names which sounded vaguely like other, more popular games.

Wasn’t there a Desert Combat mod for Wargame 1942?

There is a market in being mistaken for somebody more popular I guess.

They also bought Aeria games a while back and added their MMOs to the list.

I think the title of theirs I most recognize is Fiesta Online, though I couldn’t tell you why.  Maybe Bhagpuss played it.  I’m sure he has played others off of the long list on their site.  There is nothing that looks offensively bad there, but nothing that looks all that appealing either.  As I said, second tier stuff, a crowd of familiar ideas in an already crowded market.

So I knew who Gamigo was when it was announced yesterday that they were buying Trion Worlds.  Sort of.  I knew enough that the news wasn’t good for people working at Trion, something confirmed not much later when it was reported that 175 of the 200 employees of Trion had been let go.

Having 25 people left gives them about enough staff to keep the servers running, maybe apply a security patch now and again, and transfer control to the new owners before being let go further down the road.

So I went to look into who Gamigo was and, of course, the answer to that is a bit murky.  Gamigo isn’t a stand-alone company.  It’s own site describes it as follows:

The gamigo group is one of the leading German companies in the gaming business with more than 250 employees.

gamigo offers more than 30 online games, focusing primarily on MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) of various genres. The portfolio includes first-person shooters (i.a. S4League and Ironsight), fantasy role-playing games (i.a. Fiesta Online and Aura Kingdom), and build-up strategy games (i.a. Desert Operations and War2Glory), as well as more than 500 casual games. This variety has been constantly extended by company aquisitions (i.a. Intenium, Looki Publishing, Aeria Games) and the purchase of games licenses (i.a. Fiesta Online, Last Chaos).

The B2B area has been enlarged too. gamigo follows a clear platform strategy and is constantly expanding through the acquisition and integration of new subsidiaries (i.a. Mediacraft and adspree media). It is gamigo´s main goal to build up a diverse, unlimited and global platform for online and mobile games, and to provide its services to other players on the market.

Besides 5 German locations, gamigo operates further international offices in Warsaw (Poland), Istanbul (Turkey), Chicago (US) and Seoul (Korea).

This comes with an inspiring chart.

All with 250+ employees

Nothing screams commitment like having 25+ MMOs and 500+ casual game supported by less staff than works on World of Warcraft.  Trion had 200 staff just to handle its five MMOs, Rift, Defiance 2050, Trove, Atlas Reactor, and ArcheAge, and it was only the publisher of the last.

(Also, the description of their business model in their consolidated financial statement makes for an interesting read.)

And Gamigo itself is in a nest of companies.  It is reported to be owned by Samarion S.E. which is, in turn, owned by Solidare Real Estate Holding plc according to Bloomberg.  And they are just a holding company for Solidare Real Estate Holding GmbH, a company founded by a Turkish family 15 years back, according to its web site, whose focus is building high density housing in Germany.  And even that rolls up to Suryoyo Holding GmbH, about which I couldn’t find much, at least not without handing out information of my own.

Somewhere at the top of the tree

So it is a money machine for somebody somewhere.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find Russian oligarch money in the mix at some point in the food chain, probably via a subsidiary in Cypress.

As for why Trion Worlds was sold, no company stands alone.  As we saw recently with CCP, when your investors tire of you not providing a level of return they expect, they will sell you on down the line.  CCP got lucky, relatively speaking.  Trion Worlds, less so.  Their backers (because Scott Hartsmann didn’t fund this venture out of his checking account) likely wanted out of an underperforming investment.  And so it goes.

No, no we are not.

What does it mean if you play Rift, Defiance 2050, Trove, Atlas Reactor, or ArcheAge?  Today, tomorrow, and next week, probably nothing at all.  The games will keep on ticking over, the servers will stay up, the cash shop will continue to prompt you to buy.  That is, after all, what Gamigo wanted out of this purchase, an expansion of its already large stock of online games.  There won’t be much shut down… well, maybe Defiance and Atlas Reactor.  I don’t know how well those two are doing.  But the other three will no doubt be sticking around.

But if you’re used to frequent updates or special servers or live events or getting responses in the forums (or even having forums I imagine) then you’ll probably find that is about to change.  Gamigo’s community outreach seems to be mostly in the form of Facebook ads.

I feel for those who got laid off.  I’ve been down that road a few times.  Fortunately for the technical team, the economy in the SF Bay area is very hot right now (Seattle as well) and their skills are all in demand… if they want to get out of gaming and get a pay raise.  If they want to stay in that industry… well, there is EA and Zynga close by I suppose.  But it is more likely people will end up moving, one of the costs of being in the video games industry.

As somebody pointed out in the comments of the post about this over at Massively OP, there were signs that something was up, listing out a series of stories the site ran that added up to what happened yesterday.

It is, in its way, the end of another story in the MMORPG niche.  Trion Worlds started as a feisty upstart, taking on Blizzard directly, trying to out-do World of Warcraft by being more nimble and more aggressive.  There was definitely some hubris in their messages at times, something I might be inclined to pin on David Reid of “Tabula Rasa – Triple-A and Here to Stay” fame.  For example, Trion was straight up claiming that the 600,000 players that dropped WoW at one point during Cataclysm (Remember when that was a big drop?) were playing Rift.

In the end though, being small and nimble also means not making any mistakes.  Blizzard has the mass to lumber through the ups and downs, but Trion Worlds had to get things right every step of the way or face imminent demise.

For me the Storm Legion expansion stepped away from what made the game great at launch, trading tight zone design for more space that meant schlepping back and forth for quests.  That is anecdotal, but I know others who couldn’t find their way through that expansion.

But whatever happened, Trion had to make changes.  The market pretty much demanded that Rift go free to play in order to survive.  They started with what I felt was an over-generous free model and had to tighten things up later, which is always hard to justify to your players.  They ran with new titles, Defiance with its tie-in with SyFy and Trove to tap the Minecraft niche with more color and options.  They tried to be a publisher and sales portal akin to Steam with their Glyph launcher.  And they became the US publisher for ArcheAge, hoping it would be lucrative enough to put up with the heat that always goes with having to front somebody elses’ work.

In the end, it wasn’t enough for somebody.  And so we say farewell.  Trion’s games will be absorbs into Gamigo’s list.  Those that can make money without much minding will carry on, and those that can’t will disappear.

I am glad I went back and played Rift Prime earlier this year.  It gave me a taste of the early game I enjoyed.

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9 thoughts on “Gamigo Buys then Guts Trion Worlds

  1. SynCaine

    Rift, much like Warhammer Online, will always be that ‘what could have been’ title. If they had stuck to the original design of rifts really being these zone-wide disturbances, rather than the post-launched nerfed “here is a small event happening, feel free to do it if you want” blips they became, it could have remained an interesting title that did something different and special. Instead it just became smaller WoW, and then later worse WoW with the difficulty nerfs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bhagpuss

    I never played Fiesta (at least I don’t think I did…) but I have played and enjoyed a few Gamigo games, particularly Eden Eternal and Twin Saga, which I posted about quite a bit and very much enjoyed. My feeling is that Trion had earned such an appalling reputation with its customers of late (Trove possibly excepted) that it smacks of crocodile tears for people to be bemoaning a change of ownership. From what people have been claiming over the last few years, it could hardly get worse.

    Not sure if I’ll be playing playing Rift or ArchAge again but having them owned by Gamigo certainly wouldn’t stop me if I wanted to go back.

    (Also, you’ve added an “n” to Gamigo everywhere in the post except in the quoted sections).

    Like

  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Oh dear, this is like that Darkfall post where I wrote “Adventurine” rather than “Aventurine” about a hundred times. My fingers kept just typing “Gaming” over and over as I wrote this, so I kept just adding an “o” to the end. The perils of writing just before you go to bed.

    On the other hand, looking at Google search results, I am absolutely owning it for the search term “gaming buys trion” on that front.

    Like

  4. Shintar

    This feels a bit like the end of an era to me. Not that I think Rift will shut down any time soon, as that would go counter to what seems to be the reason Gamigo bought Trion in the first place, but as you said the game will likely go into maintenance mode.

    I never actually played it myself, but I still have to credit it with breaking me out of my “WoW bubble”, as so many WoW bloggers that I followed at the time talked about it when it launched that I was starting to wonder for the first time whether it wasn’t actually possible for me to have more fun in a different MMORPG than I was having in WoW. I’ll never forget the huge drama that broke out when one WoW blog in particular jokingly made a “Rift-free zone” badge and the whole thing went viral. At the time, Rift was the golden child and a lot of people got seriously upset with anybody saying anything bad about it. Weird to see where things have ended up seven years later.

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  5. Nosy Gamer

    I wasn’t a big Trion fan. I played Rift at launch, but I don’t think I made it past level 25. I also tried playing Defiance and didn’t get to level 10. I guess 2018 is a year of consolidation, for better or worse.

    Like

  6. Vigo

    I’d just like to point out the most unoriginal name I’ve ever seen, shown in the first picture. ‘Empire Universe 3’. That’s just sad. An interesting article, even to someone who plays none of the games (or even game types, such as MMO) listed.

    Like

  7. GhostPepper

    I think if Trion had stuck more with Rift, rather than branching off so much they’d have stayed more profitable company. Defiance was never good for them, not sure why they re-uped it with 2050. The people they had working as CM’s for ArcheAge did them no PR favors.

    Meanwhile Rift had built a hugely loyal fanbase and the producers they had, pre Archonix, were generally well received and liked by the players.

    Like

  8. HarbingerZero

    Storm Legion was the end of the road for me as well. And I agree about the reasons. Rifts zones always felt manageable to me, like each one was just big enough that about the time I got bored I was hopping to the next one.

    I really really had high hopes for ArchAge. And while it had a character class system much like Rift, the advancement was glacial, and gated in ways that Rift never was. I spent a month in the game and never leveled high enough to actually play the character I wanted to play.

    And while I don’t think I’ve played any of those games above…I’ve enjoyed a lot of “second-tier” games over the years. They tend to pick one thing and do it well, and that often works better for me than a scattershot approach some more polished games tend to engage in.

    Like

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