Trilogy Studios receives funding

TrilogyuseTrilogy Studios, a videogame company based out of Santa Monica, received $3.2 million in funding during a series B round last week from unnamed investors. Trilogy Studios, which bills itself as a “Next Gen and Virtual World development studio,” is currently being lead by CEO Michael Pole. From 2003 to 2005, Michael held an Executive Vice President position at Vivendi Universal Games, heading up their worldwide development. During this time he headed up development of popular game titles such as The Hulk, Chronicles of Riddick, and Scarface, among others.
In July of this year, Trilogy Studios announced a partnership with MTV to develop a virtual world title based on the television network’s popular show “Pimp My Ride.” From the announcement:

Trilogy Studios is utilizing its skill set in making world-class console games and elevating the experiences found in today’s online virtual worlds. The company is focusing its new virtual worlds around people’s passions, from specific entertainment properties to genres such as music, film, television and sports. Trilogy’s virtual worlds combine game play attributes from next generation console games with the broadcasting, social networking and e-commerce capabilities found in some of today’s most successful online business entities.

Michael Pole: “Trilogy takes virtual worlds beyond basic 3D chat rooms, turning them into living, breathing worlds where people come together to share their entertainment passions . . . We’ve developed a business model that enables media companies to successfully monetize their franchises through virtual world networks including micro-transactions, in-game advertising and sponsorships, premium subscriptions and e-commerce.”

In the virtual world, which has yet to be released, fans of the show can create customized avatars, trick out cars with a variety of different upgradable parts, and then take them for a spin on a race track.

Virtual World News covered the partnership announcement, including additional commentary from Trilogy’s CEO:

“With this business model, since we’re working with just extraordinary content, there’s four rivers of revenue,” Pole said. Trilogy is focused on building out the process for microtransactions, advertising, premium subscriptions, and ecommerce with real-world products.

“We allow you to do things and try them in the virtual world and then experience them in the real world. And we’re looking at any number of items, from shoes and hats and tennis shoes. A guy sees a pair of shoes, say some Vans or maybe an Adidas sweat suit, and he likes it, he can order them and have them delivered.

One of the most interesting parts of the interview is where Pole weighs in on the difference between the closed-off virtual worlds he is creating versus a wide-open world such as Second Life, which got a lot of buzz due to the in-game ads it had attracted from big name sponsors such as IBM and Coca-Cola:

Pole sees the private worlds as a necessary alternative to more open platforms like Second Life.

“What we’ve found is that content providers like MTV and others are not as comfortable handing over their intellectual property to create a world within a world,” he said. “Everyone’s afraid about the protection of intellectual property and the gray market and black market and distribution online. What we’re presenting is the opportunity to take advantage of the new frontier.”

With the majority of in-game advertising done by companies inside Second Life failing, privately branded worlds such as “Pimp My Ride” just may be the key to turning interactive 3D environments into profits for businesses. I think Michael Pole is on to something here, and I expect more good things to come from Trilogy Studios in the future.

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