The first thing I thought when Trion announced its Glyph game launcher and sales platform was admittedly, “God, not another one.” Then, after talking to Scott Hartsman and Anais Grueb from the developer and publishing parent, my reservation has moved to bright optimism. Trion’s goal isn’t to compete with Steam or shove their cash shop purchases down your throat. They’re not going to try and sell every game on the planet, rather they plan on carefully curating and hand-picking the titles they partner with to be featured on Glyph. And more than anything it’s a perfect way to keep all of their own games connected, sharing one launcher, and booting from one place. In a way, it’s akin to Battle.Net’s own launcher, only Trion hopes it goes much further than that.
First, I asked Scott if this had anything to do with the Red Door platform that was announced back before Scott’s temporary departure from Trion. In short, Glyph is the next evolution of Red Door, the natural progression of an idea from years ago. They have four games of their own to and the knowledge, experience, and marketing resources to help support devs who need that sort of distribution and publishing expertise. Back when Scott came back to Trion, he hinted to us that Trion wasn’t aiming to be a traditional publisher. Rather he prefers to think of them as a partner that offers autonomy for studios to make their game, while helping them out with all the other stuff that publishers tend to take care of.
As a developer, there are a lot of reasons to go with Glyph. With the new platform, Trion’s not sticking to just MMOs. As they get pitched new games or discover them themselves, they’ll look for single-player DRM free titles too, in order to give them that access to ten million built in users across the globe. Steam’s got such a large signal to noise ratio, and Glyph will be the opposite of this. Trion will carefully pick those games they believe in, and while they might not always be right about what game will be a hit, they can be sure all of their games won’t get lost in a sea of also-rans. The dev will have a level of certainty to get discovered by users, press, and more. Trion will handle the scale, billing, fraud, marketing, and PR if that’s part of the agreement the studio makes. They can tackle as many of these assets or as few of them as they’d like.
As a user, Trion wants you to use their product. They’re well aware of the claims made towards other launchers from slowness to bulkiness, unnecessary features to malware and beyond. When Glyph starts going out to Trove players, ArcheAge Alpha players, Rift and Defiance players… Scott’s confident that they’ll find an extremely trim client that doesn’t lag your system down, and isn’t a pain to launch games from. They’re also aware that you don’t want to use a launcher, to launch another game’s launcher. Glyph won’t launch Rift’s launcher, to launch Rift, for example.
They’re already releasing the beta to Trove alpha users, and then it’ll be given to ArcheAge’s friends and family alpha, and then the regular alpha, and finally it’ll ship to Rift and Defiance users. Trion’s already begun meeting with prospective partners for new games to be featured on the platform, and response has been tremendous so far. They’re looking forward to allowing games to run cross-promotions for items across different games, because the Glyph store will be capable of that. So you could play content in one game and earn rewards for another, and that sort of thing.
Overall, Scott wants everyone to know that this is a big step for them. They’re a team of gamers, and never will stop making their own games, but they see this as an exciting opportunity to give players access to more games without being the “greedy publisher” that takes 50% or more of the profits. They want to be a friend in the industry, not an enemy. The real test of Glyph will come when it’s in gamers’ hands, but for now I’m definitely optimistic that Trion gets what players want from this sort of platform. The question might be: will more people use it that aren’t specifically fans of Trion’s games? And if so… just how big could Glyph grow?