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Trion's Lars Buttler discusses what went wrong with 38 Studios,  Star Wars

Trion's Lars Buttler discusses what went wrong with 38 Studios, Star Wars Exclusive

June 5, 2012 | By Christian Nutt

The outspoken CEO of the Rift developer and publisher explains his theory about what other MMO companies aren't getting right.

At E3, Trion has four games on display, including both a huge expansion for its premium subscription MMO Rift and the free-to-play MMORTS End of Nations. In the light of the failure of 38 Studios and the significant layoffs at BioWare Austin, Gamasutra posed the question: What does he think of the health of the triple-A online game?

According to Buttler, the difficulties the two companies faced stem from "different problems".

"38 Studios had a concept they couldn't deliver on... It was too big of a scope. It was too much. It it just went broader and never narrowed," he says. "They never even came close to the finish line."

"I think their fundamental issue was process management," he suggests. The team never devised a plan for a game that could be developed in a "reasonable amount of time," says Buttler.

"In the case of Star Wars, I don't think the business model was necessarily the issue, but I think it was content updates, and what to do in the game, and how you can play it without it becoming repetitive."

He points to the fact that Trion's Rift gets frequent significant content updates, whereas The Old Republic's consumers are left wanting.

"You have to be able to keep people interested. The key about an online game is that it's a live service. If you make it more like a packaged goods game, people will stay about as long as they stay with a packaged goods game."

"That is what the online medium, the connected game world requires," says Buttler. "Super-dynamic, really social live services online."

"If you're not set up for that in terms of your game technology, backend, the size of your game teams, it becomes incredibly difficult to do," he says.

Gamasutra will have more from its E3 interview with Lars Buttler in the near future.

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