On the heels of Zynga filing for an IPO, Trion Worlds, gaming developer of Rift, is planning to give it a shot. When is not known, but Chief Exec Lars Buttler told Reuters: "As we build scale and become more profitable, (an IPO) is clearly on our horizon at some point." Market conditions always give companies pause when they consider going public.
Trion already has already garnered $100 million in venture capital. The company has some heavy hitters in already in hand ? Time Warner, Comcast, Fidelity Investments and ACT II Capital. The five year old company is up to 500 employees and still hiring in the US and in Europe.
End of Nations under development at Trion Worlds
Job openings illustrate their expansion plans. One position they want to fill is that of a German Community Manager to oversee the community development strategy and on-going social network tactics for their new game, End of Nations. In the US, they plan to hire a "hardcore gamer who is good at both finding bugs and describing them in an organized and clear way. Fluency (both spoken and written) in French is required." If you meet those requirements, you must also be a hardcore worker. "Applicants must be available to work extended hours and weekends when necessary to meet project deadlines." Translation: Lots of overtime pay, but no life.
Trion Worlds is banking on the decline of console games sales and the growth of PC on-line gaming. Their smash release, Rift, came out in March and sold 1 million copies by July with a price tag of $50 plus $15 a month thereafter. That?s a smart marketing move. Guaranteed income after the sale without more expenditure on the part of the developer. Rift, a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) won Best New Online Game at the 2011 Game Developers Choice Online Awards. With such good publicity, Trion Worlds envisions fantasy worlds such as Telara swarming with thousands of players who keep paying to play.
Additionally, Trion has a backup plan for building the company. They have a good head start as witnessed by receipt of the Best Online Technology Award from the Game Developers Conference. They are making a combo consumer and full-scale publishing and development platform with related software and tools, to enable other companies to write online games for connected devices. For now, they are calling this technology "Red Door" and plan to charge other developers to use it. Reminiscent of the long-running TV game show, Let?s Make A Deal, if what?s behind the Red Door is the right answer, Trion and future investors just might win a bundle.
Trion Worlds? strong suit is advanced graphics which is also its potential Achilles heel. While spectacular graphics lure players, they also greatly increase the cost to produce the game. If a game doesn?t catch on, profits don?t flow into the company?s coffers to recover its development costs.
The company has two games in the works. End of Nations a real-time strategy world war scenario developed as a second-party game with Petroglyph. It won Best Concept of Show at PAX Prime 2011. You can register for the chance to take part in their beta tests. Defiance, a shooter game, was co-developed with SyFy to demonstrate how Red Door works with consoles and other connected devices. Events on the TV show will affect the game.
As to when Trion Worlds will IPO, Buttler, a graduate of Electronic Arts, is mum, but claims: "We definitely have enough substance and enough skill to be a public company at the right time."
The right time is crucial. Zynga, strongest maker of Facebook games, experienced a huge drop in their June quarter profits, while trying to push its international presence.
Also, platform competitor, Electronic Arts, released "The Sims Social" on Facebook which reported gaining 50 million users in 5 months.
IPO investors look to number of active subscribers and profits in relation to potential competition. Companies try to take the plunge into a public stock offering when both numbers are high and raising. Will that optimum time come sooner or later, or not at all for Zynga or Trion Worlds?