Former chief creative officer is back at MMO studio just months after departure

Hartsman returns to Trion as CEO

Scott Hartsman is returning to Trion Worlds as CEO just months after leaving the company.

Hartsman resigned his position as chief creative officer in January after over years with the company behind Rift and the dual TV/MMO crossover Defiance.

His return follows a round of layoffs in May that sources claimed made over half the company redundant.

The layoffs came after the news that Trion World’s MMO Rift was moving to a free-to-play model, and were in turn followed by Hartsman claiming the AAA model was ‘broken’.

"This model of game making is so fundamentally broken,” he said at the time.

“We’re approaching the point at which AAA projects need to be blockbusters just to sustain everyone in the ecosystem… That’s what’s broken.”

Hartsman said it was only getting easier for companies to move away from the model, pointing to the success of startups like Mojang, Riot, and Supercell.

“Stepping away gets easier every day in a world that now contains things to help you operate independently at a far lower cost, faster than ever before, from funding to accelerating your development, helping you host, helping you bill, helping you distribute, helping you analyse, and so on," he said at the time.

“With any luck, we’ll see more endeavours where the balance of power returns to the product creators and the audiences they’re trying to serve in the most direct relationship possible – where everyone involved is a "product person" whose sole mission is to best serve the customer. That’s powerful and exciting.”

Now that Hartsman’s back at Trion, it’s only a matter of time before we see just how far he’s willing to take those sentiments, and he’s already sent an e-mail to employees of the company that suggests big changes are on the horizon.

"We’re going to rapidly be laying the groundwork for a new strategy at Trion – one that’s closer to the foundation of how we’ve had our wins so far, and then extending that base into the enduring success this company can, and will, be," wrote Hartsman.

Gamasutra reports that Trion Worlds co-founder and outgoing CEO Lars Buttler will remain at the company as a member of its board.

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