Around 40 people - a third - of the Rift development team have reportedly been let go by Trion.
Gamasutra was told this by a source.
Trion confirmed the redundancies but not the numbers. The reason for the lay-offs was as a "response to market conditions, product timelines and the natural evolution of our company".
Rift has just welcomed its first expansion, Storm Legion, for which development may have ramped up. So it is plausible that Trion shed bulk to make the Rift team leaner for the months of rolling MMO support to come.
Rift is still a subscription MMO, albeit with a considerable free trial, but with Trion not sharing numbers it's hard to tell exactly how healthy the game is. Did Trion break the bank developing a meaty new expansion, or was the expansion a sign of prosperity?
But there are hints of cracks appearing elsewhere in the Trion business. End of Nations, Trion's MMORTS, indefinitely postponed its open beta recently as development was moved from creator Petroglyph to in-house at Trion. There were 19 lay-offs and Petroglyph and Trion "concluded" their business together.
The game is apparently safe, but there's been no explanation of why this all happened. Was Petroglyph flagging so Trion stepped in to sort everything out? Or could Trion no longer afford to pay a team at Petroglyph to develop it? Also, how long will it take Trion's internal team to get up to speed on the project?
Trion has one other MMO in development and boy does it sound ambitious: an interconnected telly series and game, a collaboration between Syfy and Trion, and an open world shooter for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Gulp. Apparently both game and telly series are launching in April next year.
Trion scooped around $100 million from investors to make these three MMOs. Half of that went on Rift although the technology can carry across. Rift is the only game Trion has launched but it was one of the most accomplished MMO launches in years outside of World of Warcraft - an incredible feat for a first-timer. But was it a one-off?