Game publisher and developer Trion Worlds has completed an $85 million round of equity financing led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan with participation from existing investor Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG. Trion previously raised $100 million from BDMI, Time Warner Inc., Comcast Corp., Fidelity Investments and ACT II Capital.
Trion said it would use the funds to further grow its premium online games business. There are two other factors that may come into play, however. The company in October told Reuters it believed an IPO “was inevitable,” and its upcoming game platform initiative could prove to be a very valuable asset.
Trion’s Rift, its only completed game, quickly became a financial and critical hit when it went live in March 2011. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game activated more than a million accounts in its first four months and ended the year with North American and European revenues in excess of $100 million.
The company has two other highly anticipated titles in the pipeline. End of Nations, a massively multiplayer real-time strategy game being developed with Petroglyph Games, is set to make its debut within the next few months.
Even more interesting is Defiance, Trion’s collaborative project with Syfy Channel to simultaneously produce a TV show and an online action game in the same universe. The concept involves having the storylines merge and for events in one medium to affect what happens in the other. Syfy Channel is part of NBCUniversal, which is controlled by Trion investor Comcast.
Then there’s Red Door, Trion’s game platform initiative, which comprises both a consumer platform and a full-scale publishing and development platform. Based on Trion’s existing technology, Red Door is built to host third-party premium games with end-to-end capabilities and customized white label services.
Lars Buttler, Trion Worlds founder and chief executive officer, said: “Backing from a stalwart long-term investor such as Teachers’, which has the experience and structure to support our vision, and the expanded relationship with our current stakeholder and great supporter, BDMI, is a massive endorsement for Trion.”
Trion is headquartered in Redwood City, Calif., with offices in San Diego, Calif., Austin, Texas, and London, U.K.
With $107.5 billion in assets as of December 31, 2010, the independent organization Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada. Its direct investment program is one of the most comprehensive and successful in the world.
“Rift’s success with gamers worldwide is the tip of the iceberg for Trion,” Buttler said. “No other company has successfully attempted to create an original IP, build paradigm-altering technology, and develop a business of scale to lead the industry, let alone excel at all three. We have a world class team focused on our vision to bring the era of connected live services to premium games, much in the way casual and mid-core games have already been disrupted.”