Big Layoffs Hit The Studio Behind Defiance And Rift [UPDATE]S

We're hearing of big layoffs at Trion Worlds, the company behind big online games like Rift and Defiance.

One person connected to the company tells us that the layoffs have affected over 100 people, and that they were triggered by the underwhelming performances of both Defiance and Rift's first expansion, Storm Legion.

The layoffs affect about 70% of the company, according to that person. (A second source tells us that the percentage is off base, but that yes, around 100 people were laid off.)

IGN reports that employees are being escorted out of the building and that some severance packages may be denied. (UPDATE: A Trion representative tells us this isn't true, and that the layoff numbers have been exaggerated. However, they would not tell us how many people were laid off.)

Just a few days ago, Trion announced that Rift would go free-to-play. But Defiance, the sci-fi experiment that consists of both an MMO and a television show, was just renewed for a second season.

UPDATE: This afternoon, Trion sent over a statement:

To best position Trion in a rapidly changing industry, we have reorganized our teams and are expanding our free to play offering. With Defiance, we delivered a great game that more than one million gamers registered to play and continue to enjoy. As we progress from launch to ongoing development of the game, we are adjusting our staffing levels to deliver new content and improved features. RIFT, and our other titles in development, were unaffected by these changes. We are very much looking forward to the free to play release of RIFT and are excited by the other new titles currently in development.