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Defiance may be hot as a TV show, but as an online game, it isn’t. So Trion Worlds has announced that it has named a new chief executive to replace Lars Buttler and shut down the San Diego game studio that made Defiance, which was one of the most ambitious games ever attempted.

Scott Hartsman, the company’s former chief creative officer, has returned to the company as CEO, while Buttler will remain on the company’s board, effective immediately. Buttler stepped down from the role and the company initiated a search for his replacement.

In an email to the company, Hartsman stated, “We’re going to rapidly be laying the groundwork for a new strategy for 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.”

Hartsman oversaw the launch of the company’s other massively multiplayer online game, Rift, which launched in 2011. Rift shifted to free-to-play this summer as Trion tried to adapt to big changes in the game industry.


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Defiance was a huge project. Trion raised more than $100 million and spent more than five years developing the title. The game launched in the spring just ahead of the launch of SyFy’s Defiance the TV show. The show was recently approved for its second season and was a big success in the ratings. But Defiance, designed as a story-based online shooter, was buggy and its gameplay uninspired.

Trion also confirmed that the day-to-day operations of Defiance will be moved to its headquarters studio in Redwood City, Calif. The company will manage Defiance alongside Rift and its upcoming titles End of Nations and ArcheAge. End of Nations was a real-time strategy MMO that was recently converted into a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. ArcheAge is being developed by Korea’s XL Games and will be published by Trion.

Trion and Crytek previously announced that they were working on publishing the North American version of Crytek’s Warface free-to-play online shooter, but both companies have stopped talking about it.

Trion said a number of people will likely be transferred from San Diego to Northern California.

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