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Trion Worlds, the developer behind massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Rift, announced today that it has hired games industry veteran David Luehmann to head its third-party development program.

Luehmann has more than two decades of experience working with the likes of real time strategy game Age of Empires. He also worked as manager of Microsoft Game Studios. He will head Trion Worlds’ efforts to track down games that the company can publish as third-party titles. While Trion Worlds has two first-party titles developed internally, there’s an enormous revenue opportunity for publishing third-party titles, Luehmann said.

“With me here, we’re building up an organization that can handle two, three or four more of these third-party titles under development,” Luehmann told VentureBeat. “We have an organization that can bring those games to market.”

Luehmann will be responsible for running a team that scouts out potential games and development teams that are working on online and “connected” games. Trion Worlds isn’t setting any specific target for the number of third-party games it will publish each year. That would run the risk of forcing the company to meet certain metrics and reduce the overall quality fo the games, Luehmann said.

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“It’s contingent on whether the right game is out there, that meets the quality bars out there,” he said. “Quantity runs the risk of quality issues.”

While Rift is an MMORPG in the same vein as Blizzard Entertainment’s supergiant World of Warcraft, the company is on the lookout for new titles that stray from that formula, Trion Worlds senior vice president of publishing David Reid told VentureBeat.

“A flyer idea that comes up out of the blue, that’s something we’ll look at and consider, as long as it means something that will turn into a fantastic experience,” Reid said. “Beyond that, it’s not about genre, it’s not about platform or business model, in the frontier of where online gaming is going, people ought to be taking risks.”

Trion Worlds will release its first third-party title developed by Petroglyph Games, online real time strategy game End of Nations, sometime later this year.

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