Sending Mixed Signals: Defiance Renewal and Trion Layoffs

A strange string of events has just occurred on the Defiance front:  Last week we heard about Syfy’s Defiance renewal for a second season and then just yesterday we get the news about Trion laying off a portion of the Defiance team.

Now the real question is what does this mean for Defiance?  Well the renewal is great news for the show but the layoffs are very disappointing news for the game.  And to me this raises a question I haven’t really thought about since before launch; Do the game and show need each other to be successful?  Well I’ve always felt that the show could survive without the game but the game would flounder without the show and this recent news about the Trion layoffs seems to support my opinion.  For a game that has been battling bugs since launch and has more or less been unable to focus on improving content, these layoffs have put the game into a even more dire situation.  How is a reduced team supposed to both maintain and improve the game while also delivering the 5 promised DLC packs?

It looks like the game has a tough road laid out in front of itself.  I really hope Trion is able to both improve and maintain Defiance with a smaller team but what little optimism I have left for the game is quickly disappearing. The Trion layoffs are just another step in the wrong direction in the ongoing Defiance saga.

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10 comments

  1. I had little faith in the DLC either way, and with no end-game content to speak of the game already burned out for me. It’s really odd that Trion had so many layoffs. But at the same time they’ve been delaying the launch of Warface for a very long time(and still are) and the launch of Defiance wasn’t a real hit either.

    The thing I’m most worried about now is the future of Warface and End of Nations, two extremely promising games. Warface could have been a saving grace for Trion staff, seeing as it already hit 10 mil players in Russia and is rapidly gaining popularity in Korea and soon Japan.

    Those huge delays and launch problems could indicate either a overstaffed or understaffed team. Maybe they just dropped some dead weight and will get more efficient. Or they are now understaffed and will eventually burn out.

  2. Slade "bwar" Saretsky
    Slade "bwar" Saretsky 19 May, 2013 at 6:09 am - Reply Author

    The originally reported 70-80% of the team was the exaggeration, these layoffs are still going to impact the game.

    • I know a few people who worked there. 70-80% is exaggeration. However, not far off. It’s more like 50%. Much of which were artists.

  3. I don’t see how these layoffs support your opinion.

    This happens with nearly every MMO. They hire X amount of developers to finish the game in a timely manner. The developer hopes for a certain level of success and if they achieve it they can keep on all / most of those staff for ongoing development. If they don’t then they don’t have enough money to pay all those staff and have to let some go.

    The way I see it the TV show has at least initially hurt the game. Rift – Trion’s other game – is widely regarded as being one of the best launches in the MMO industry. The game was polished to a blinding shine. But being attached to the TV show meant that Defiance the game had a hard launch date which could not be delayed for any reason. I suspect that forced them to make some tough decisions and cut a few corners which have hurt its popularity, particularly amongst PC users.

    The layoff’s mean its future looks less shiny and that’s sad. But I’m at least hopeful that they can recover.

    • I agree with Nick. If it weren’t for the tv show rushing a release the game would have been alot better when it launched. They are working out the kinks and as a xbox player there aren’t any other games like it. Hope Trion sticks with it.

      • Slade "bwar" Saretsky
        Slade "bwar" Saretsky 20 May, 2013 at 12:34 pm - Reply Author

        I would like to agree with you guys but in my opinion the things that the game is lacking aren’t even visible on the horizon at this point, which leads me to believe that they were never part of the plan to begin with. Every game is going to launch with a few bugs, personally I felt that Defiance launch with less bugs than most other mmo’s and on top of that the fps side of the game runs very well. I really hope that the game gets better and isn’t going to just be a shadow of the show. I desperately want this game to start standing out on its owning and start making people want to play it. As it sits right now the only reason to log into the game is for a little sneak peek at the episode missions. It almost feels like we all just bought an advertisement for the show.

  4. Maybe the big layoff is a consequence for the team wich failed to make the game work as it should be?! I mean every game has its bugs and launch problems, but after 16 patches still having reload bug, screen bug, perk saving bug, lot of pursuits not working cause of dissabled side missions and pvp map; a big layoff in the dev team as direct consequenz for failing sounds conclusive to mee

  5. As others have pointed out this is pretty standard practice. A little insight here for you guys. I have done QA at 2 developers now one was contract base for 9 months with option of renewal for a console game. The other was for a MMO they do a direct hiring and avoid contract base because of delays and such. When a game launches and to a very stable state they let go the vast majority of people that are no longer relevant to the game. Be it artist QA certain developers project assistants. Its a finicky field to be in and the odds are stacked against you to stay on.

    I must say in the one instance I worked for a year and 5 months and they merged two QA departments one to one we all knew it was going to happen just not when it would.

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