NBC Universal, TW enter deal

Broadband videogame company Trion is lining up some big partners in the traditional media world.

Trion has closed its second round of funding for $30 million with investors including Bertelsmann, NBC Universal and Time Warner and VC firm Rustic Canyon Partners leading the way.

Trion World Network was founded last year by several videogame industry vets who are aiming to use broadband networks to distribute games episodically, like TV shows (Daily Variety, Sept. 25). That’s a big shift from the industry’s traditional model, in which games are released all at once, like a movie.

“This round was not as much for the money as for the partners,” said Trion CEO Lars Buttler. “We now have access to content, talent, distribution and promotion from these media com-panies.”

While Time Warner already has its own videogame division within Warner Bros. and owns a 10% stake in British publisher Eidos, NBC U’s and Bertelsmann’s investments represent some of their first moves into the vidgame biz. All three put in money through their corporate investment arms.

“This is a first step for us as we learn more about the videogame space,” said NBC U chief digital officer George Kliavkoff. “It’s important to us simply because of the amount of time people spend there.”

As big media companies are investing heavily in broadband, they’re also looking at Trion as a potential partner to provide new content, as well as distribution for their own brands.

“For (television divisions) RTL and Fremantle, there are a whole host of opportunities with Trion we are very interested in exploring,” said Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments principal Keith Titan.

Trion is aiming for a worldwide launch next year. Bertelsmann will be a key partner in Europe, while Trion is counting on NBC U and TW to help in North America. Buttler said the com-pany is still looking for a media partner in Asia.

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