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Trion Worlds: Major Strategy Shift

By Red Thomas on June 28, 2018 | Columns | Comments

Trion Worlds: Major Strategy Shift

When Trion Worlds announced their acquisition of Gazillion Entertainment last week, they also placed their ecosystem as a service model back into the light.  The acquisition itself may not be as significant as the momentum it creates for the company’s model for supporting game development.  The question is whether or not it comes in time to save the surge in indie projects created by the rise of crowdfunding created by Kickstarter and Patreon.


Early in the indie boom, there were plenty of engines and support systems popping up.  My Steam queue was often populated with the latest MMO development studio-in-a-box, but none of them appeared to be worth the cost after a little investigation.  Lately, a lot of companies and platforms are starting to open up their assets to create systems for helping other developers overcome industry hurdles.

We’ll likely see other well-known names announce their entry into the space over the next several months, but Trion Worlds definitely qualifies as a pioneer and early adopter of the concept.  More importantly and unlike many of the earlier offerings, Trion Worlds offers a model that legitimately helps projects through a number of big kill-points for projects.

Gazillion technology will expand the Trion portfolio, which offers support to developers navigating that crazy post-development space of becoming an operational business.  Studios gain access to localization and transaction support, security and system monitoring, and resources such as marketing, public relations, and user acquisition.  All of it on a level far more sophisticated and effective than any smaller indie studio could ever achieve without Trion support.

Ecosystem as a Service is a model that should help a lot of studios save money, which makes for better games.

The reason this makes me excited is because a lot of really great ideas die on the vine without a good business infrastructure to support it once the game goes live.  Trion Worlds is offering to solve that gap for studios of all sizes.  This means that smaller studios have a chance where they wouldn’t have before, and larger studios could be allowed to focus more resources on the game, leaving the minutia of getting it out the door sustaining it to Trion.

In a lot of ways, it reminds me of a really good point New York Times best selling author Tracy Hickman made during a conversation we had a couple years ago.  He’s been a big supporter of e-publishing on the book side, and we’d been comparing that to the exploding crowdfunding scene.  Tracy pointed out that the video game industry was following the movie industry in many ways.

Large full-stack studios had dominated the early days but started to fall apart once the market began to change.  That gave rise to indie studios that created many of our modern film classics.  The old studios that survived, did so by pivoting to new models that supported indie film in various ways.

A lot of movies come out that I think are kind of dumb, or that just rehash the glory of someone else’s artistic leap.  There are a few that come out and nail my tastes to a tee, though.  More movies being released, means a better chance that I’ll find something truly extraordinary.  I’m hoping that more games will yield a similar result.

Trion Worlds could be among the first large video game studios to make a similar pivot and herald in an era of change for the game industry.  An era where smaller studios are increasingly empowered to stretch the bounds of their art, while the larger studios shepherd them down the roads of good business practice towards profit and sustainability.

Red Thomas / A veteran of the US Army, raging geek, and avid gamer, Red Thomas is that cool uncle all the kids in the family like to spend their summers with. Red lives in San Antonio with his wife where he runs his company and works with the city government to promote geek culture. Follow him on Twitter:

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