Goodbye LEGO Universe

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It is with a sad heart that I write this today. LEGO officially announced that LEGO Universe will have its final chapter on January 31st, 2012. Or as it was posted on the message boards “The adventure is coming to an end… ” 😦

November 4, 2011 – The LEGO Group today announced that it will close LEGO® Universe, an MMOG (massively-multiplayer online game) that has been in operation since the autumn of 2010.

In spite of very positive player feedback and a large number of players in the free play zone, it has not been possible to convert a satisfactory number of players to paying subscribers. It has therefore been decided to close the game as of January 31, 2012.

“The LEGO Universe team can take pride in having developed and launched a great LEGO experience that many players will miss,” said Jesper Vilstrup, Vice President, LEGO Universe. “Right now, we have almost 2 million players in LEGO Universe, and we get extremely positive feedback from players. Unfortunately, we have not been able to build a satisfactory revenue model in our target group, and therefore, have decided to close the game.”

Despite the change, the ambition to develop and run a digital business remains. In future, it is the intention to further pursue cooperation with partners. The LEGO Group has a strong and continuing partnership with TT Games & Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to create digital LEGO experiences within video games. A further expansion in the digital area will mainly be based on similar partnerships.

“The development of our digital offerings continues to be a very important element in our strategy,” said Mads Nipper, Executive Vice President, LEGO Group. “We have more than 20 million visitors on http://www.LEGO.com every month, and LEGO video games are among the bestselling children’s video games with sales of more than 60 million units in the last five years. Through our experience developing and running LEGO Universe, we have gained a lot of valuable insights, and we have a very strong foundation for future development in the digital area.”

As a consequence of the closure, the LEGO Universe staff has today been informed that the ‘Play Well Studios’ in Louisville, Colorado and the game’s marketing function in Billund, Denmark will be closed. This will affect 115 employees. All affected employees will be offered assistance in finding new jobs inside or outside the LEGO Group.

Unfortunately many of us could see it coming. Between the initial delays in launching, the handing out copies of the game, to opening the free to play area it was clear that LEGO just wasn’t getting the subscriptions they wanted for this undertaking.

It was ambitious, over-extending, and new. Something that only sometimes works out for LEGO. My first thought was to the employees that will lose their jobs, some of whom are friends. I know it was rough when LEGO took back control from NetDevil and some lost their jobs then. Hopefully all will be able to find a new job either within or outside of The LEGO Group.

And of course I am also sad for those that really like playing the game. It is a fun game, although I’ve only played it a little bit. Hopefully they won’t completely abandon all the wonderful designs and concepts that came out of LEGO Universe. I would love to see all those characters and areas turned into actual sets. Hint, hint LEGO. 😉

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3 Responses to “Goodbye LEGO Universe”

  1. CyberLizard (@CyberLizard) Says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOO! 😦

  2. Purple Dave Says:

    Yeah, it was pretty easy to see this one coming. It was easy to see it as far back as when they first announced this project. There are four basic types of MMORG out there. Those that haven’t failed yet, those that have, WoW, and Secondlife. I constantly hear about the “next great MMORG”, and very rarely is it more than a year or two after it goes online that you hear that it’s being shut down. Often there’s a “free to play” period, but the only way that seems to work for any length of time is if they let you go everywhere, but make you pay for non-basic items.

    The extra problem that LU had going against it was that the target core audience already has something to burn large amounts of money on, which is actual LEGO bricks. Consider how much it would have cost to keep up a yearlong subscription, and then compare that with the cost of a set that you might have considered to be “too expensive” to buy. Now do it again for the next year. Consciously or not, this is a comparrison that every AFOL was making for the lifespan of the game, and it’s an even harder choice for kids with much more limited budgets.

    The licensed video games work as well as they do because they’re all one-time purchases. You buy the game once, and you can play it until you’re sick of it or the next game comes out. More importantly, they have a wider general appeal due to the licenses they’re based on. I’ve often wondered how well a major console game would do if it was done in the style of LEGO Star Wars but built around an internal IP like the Ninjago theme. My gut tells me it would never be as successful as any of the licensed games, though it _might_ do well enough to be considered a success and lead to other internal IPs getting full releases. However, with the current schedule of anounced releases, I very much doubt we’ll see that happen anytime soon.

  3. New Lego Themes and Lego Universe - A Look At Lego Podcast Says:

    […] Lego Universe Closing – Closing […]

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