Big Layoffs Hit The Studio Behind Defiance And Rift

We're hearing of big layoffs at Trion Worlds, the company behind big online games like Rift and Defiance. One person connected to the company tells us that the layoffs have affected over 100 people, and that they were triggered by the underwhelming performances of both Defiance and Rift's first expansion, Storm Legion.

The layoffs affect about 70 per cent of the company, according to that person.

IGN reports that employees are being escorted out of the building and that some severance packages may be denied. (UPDATE: A Trion representative tells us this isn't true,and that the layoff numbers have been exaggerated. However, they would not tell us how many people were laid off.)

Just a few days ago, Trion announced that Rift would go free-to-play. But Defiance, the sci-fi experiment that consists of both an MMO and a television show, was just renewed for a second season.

UPDATE: This afternoon, Trion sent over a statement:

To best position Trion in a rapidly changing industry, we have reorganised our teams and are expanding our free to play offering. With Defiance, we delivered a great game that more than one million gamers registered to play and continue to enjoy. As we progress from launch to ongoing development of the game, we are adjusting our staffing levels to deliver new content and improved features. RIFT, and our other titles in development, were unaffected by these changes. We are very much looking forward to the free to play release of RIFT and are excited by the other new titles currently in development.


    The industry isn't what I'd call "rapidly expanding"... I see that excuse too often.

      The statement doesn't say that it is.....

        "To best position Trion in a rapidly changing industry"

        Yeah, it does.

        Edit: Wow, I misread that exactly the same as Tiberath. Sorry, man!

        Last edited 18/05/13 11:41 am

          I did the same thing. It's a poorly worded statement. Somebody from Trion obviously failed Spin 101 :)

          Last edited 18/05/13 12:50 pm

      just because you hear something often doesn't make it any more or less true...

        I'd like to know exactly what they mean by rapidly changing and if there's any way of confirming that and the way it puts pressure on their business to sack large numbers of people. I'm guessing it's just the post-release cull where they let most of the team go and keep on smaller teams to work on expansions and post-release patches. It seems pretty conveniently timed.

        Last edited 18/05/13 11:41 am

    you mean changing tiberath?

    Last edited 18/05/13 11:27 am

    Yes they said "rapidly changing" which could equally be "rapidly shrinking" - not that I'm saying it is.

    More seriously, my 13yo almost game-addicted son wants to work as something/anything in games development. I've tried to discourage him as I think it would be very hard for anyone to make a buck (rather like becoming an actor etc in that supply would far outstrip demand) on top of which his school marks leave a lot to be desired - although I'm sure they will improve.

    Does anyone have any ideas/suggestions that would enable me to be more positive/supporting?! :)

      Explain to your son that the quickest way to kill your passion for something you enjoy is to do it for a living. You can turn your hobby into a job and an income stream, but it's no longer a hobby. I was a musician for over 10 years, signed, recording, traveling, signing autographs, all that stuff. But it prevented me from ever enjoying live music again. I'm not even a huge fan of music anymore to be honest. When I see bands and music now all I see is the business. I have a friend in the movie industry as well and when he sees movies all he sees is cameras and sets and lighting.

      Once you work in an industry and see behind the curtains the illusion is gone and your ability to blissfully lose yourself in the medium is almost completely dissolved. It's best to keep your hobbies and passions as just that, hobbies and passions. When you mix business with pleasure only one of the two can win out.

        Yes but you get to enjoy supplying that effect to the masses like being on stage with the crowd behind you knowing first hand what its like to be in their shoes. Its got to make up for it. Your just not on the receiving end, or are you saying you'd rather be in the crowd?

          Being on stage makes all the behind the scenes stuff worthwhile for a lot of people, but realistically in game development you're the roadie not the rockstar and most labels will treat you like garbage because they know there's plenty of people who love rock enough to put up with their abuse.

          When it comes to game development I'd much rather be a player than a developer. Best advice I can give is don't bet everything on it. You may love it, you may hate it, but you're not going to know until you're really in the thick of it. When choosing courses and stuff pick things that work well with it but don't limit yourself to game development exclusively. Try and keep it as flexible as possible.
          Personally I love game design and programming, but the instant I turn it into any sort of job or serious project I just want to die.

          Being on the road 11 months of the year, missing every single anniversary and birthday of your kids. Being told you have to write 40 songs for your label on a deadline. Waking up in a different place every few days. It's crushing when your creative outlet becomes a grind. When you have to sit down in a room for 8+ hours trying to painfully force out creativity until the simple act of walkin into the rehearsal studio gives you headaches. When you look around you and see broken families an addiction and divorce and a happily married musician with a good relationship with their kids is a rare thing.

          When I came back to Australia I taught advanced guitar theory for about 6 months until holding the guitar made me depressed. I'm not the only one either. My story is really common. I really miss the days of just jamming in my room when the guitar was a pleasurable outlet, it was something I enjoyed doing with all of my heart, it was an act of leisure and relaxation where as at the end of my career holding a guitar meant work, it meant labour. I haven't picked up a guitar in years now. It's too painful.

          Some people get lucky. But overall I've seen too many examples of people turning passions into business and the two rarely go together. One has to be sacrificed.

          Wow, what a bitter and jaded rant on my behalf. Obviously a number of things I listed are about the music industry specifically so they're a little off topic so I apologise but sometimes this subject is like opening an old wound.

          I was just trying to highlight the perspective of balancing passions/hobbies with business and money and how it's a really bumpy road to go down. Some people really do make it work tho. But obviously for myself and many many people I've witnessed, most people have a painful time trying maintain a love and passion for something that they're also doing for a job.

          You never know, your son could definitely prove to be the opposite.

      But having said that, as a father of 6 and 8 year old boys, I think I'd encourage my kids to chase whatever dream they had. I'd just try and supply them with some perspective from my own life.

      Assuming your son wants to work in game development, the best way is to create games or mods and maps so you have a portfolio going in.

      I'm not saying it's actually likely he will end up doing it as a career, but building maps or game mods or game types in games like Starcraft or Minecraft or anything customiseable is creative and will give him some direction and by the time he is seriously considering it as a career he will either have a decent portfolio of stuff moving forwards or will have realised that his talents lie in another direction.

      Convince him to go down the computer science/software engineering path which could eventually lead to programming games or applications of a similar nature. The market for software engineers is quite good and he could always program games as a hobby or possibly a job.

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