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LEGO Universe is being shut down.

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LEGO Universe is being shut down.

Post  Cale on Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:13 pm

It seems LEGO Universe will be shut down at the end of the year. Here is a press release from LEGO.


LEGO® Universe to close in 2012

Online game will close on January 31, 2012. The LEGO Group’s digital offerings will continue to develop over the coming years.

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 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.


This is a little sad to see. Not just seeing a fun game come to an end but also something I had contributed too as well.

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Re: LEGO Universe is being shut down.

Post  vyronwynter on Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:37 pm

I had a conversation with Jim Foulds, in a group format, at a BrickFair in the past on the way this game would be launched and supported. I predicted exactly what is happening with LEGO Univesre. It was a badly executed idea by people who seemed to have no idea how other successful MMOGs were being run.


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Re: LEGO Universe is being shut down.

Post  LEGO Dog on Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:23 am

Just what I always thought, why buy the cow...

It's a shame actually, it had possibilities.

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Re: LEGO Universe is being shut down.

Post  P_Thorne on Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:05 pm

Oops. I bought the game DVD-ROM a year ago and I haven't installed it yet (for various reasons). I'd better get a-wiggle-on if I want to see what everything looked like. I'll actually have some free time after Philcon (so long as I can escape my boss's overtime ambitions for me to write all the missing documentation so we can achieve Global Domination).

"Never developed a satisfactory revenue model." Yep, that's a chronic problem with online games. You either pay up-front, or have a recurring subscription fee, or charge for add-on content, or run ads. Part of the problem is that people have grown up (over the past 15 years) with the idea that online content "should" be free; don't appreciate that, inherently, it isn't; and don't have the sense of "honor" (if I might call it that) to pay (the idea behind shareware and street musicians).

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Re: LEGO Universe is being shut down.

Post  Cale on Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:19 am

This is a pretty cool history for the LEGO Universe game. It's also quite sad unfortunately.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYCFGzsWpeQ

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Re: LEGO Universe is being shut down.

Post  vyronwynter on Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:38 am

Yeah, that clip is from the factory show about LEGO. It was on last Saturday on National Geographic Channel.

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Re: LEGO Universe is being shut down.

Post  P_Thorne on Sat Jan 28, 2012 4:18 pm

(Phil watches the seven-minute clip and cogitates.)

Informative, but not exactly a hard-hitting exposé, or even a Harvard Business School case study. Which is the level of detail critical-thinking AFOLs want. This sounds like a job for BrickJournal!

(This is clipped from a program on National Geographic Channel, you say? This is on the "LegoUniverseOfficial" channel, so it's odd that no date or copyright information was spliced onto it.)

Why exactly did TLG want a MMO? Was it to "extend the fun of the brick into the virtual domain?" --which might be code for "kids these days can't abide inert plastic." EVP Lisbeth Valther Pallesen, EVP has ambitions "[to make] it come alive, because it's actually happening, just virtually." If TLG could manufacture robotic bricks at the same price as inert ones, would that have satisfied the corporate vision?

The vid cites LEGO Digital Designer, Factory and DesignByMe, but doesn't mention that the latter two were unsuccessful (or insufficiently so).

What's the difference between the standalone games and the MMO? The massively multiplayer (which, in my experience, wasn't essential -- it's only the boss challenges that require teams) the ongoing development (that's what expansion packs are for) and the need for moderators to keep it kid-safe. If TLG wanted a community of LDD output with a nicer look than a page of thumbnails, the LU "properties" could easily be fissioned from the MMO.

The clip notes that the standalone games (i.e., the ones based on licensed characters -- IIRC, the TLG-originated games were never a hit, part of the pre-2003 decline) didn't achieve "the vision of something closer to the genuine LEGO building experience." It alludes to testing in Germany that found kids ages 10+ wanted more than "the original concept of a flat playground lined with various LEGO themes" (presumably the "Wonderland" concept). The resulting "Save Imagination" wasn't a "genuine LEGO building experience" other. An interesting story, but building was a small part of it, and free-form building zero. You couldn't even customize the color of your Pets.

The game's subscribers didn't meet the level of excitement seen at pre-launch events. Well, no. A captive audience won't behave like one at home, especially with "put your money where your mouth is." What other market research did TLG perform?

Two million players, it says, but not enough paid subscriptions. It doesn't say how many. I'd also like to see the "stickiness" stats -- the distribution of time spent by players. I never encountered a ghost town while playing, but neither was any location Black Friday. Nor does the vid mention that it launched only in the U.S., England and Germany (three separate servers).

Did they localize the safe-chat-lexicon for Germany and translate all the NPC dialogue? Were there plans for expansion beyond the anglosphere? --because they'd need, at the least, moderators with local language skills. (Although chatting isn't essential. Maybe for strategizing with your team, but even the "quick chat" gestures were too cumbersome when you're immersed in combat.)

Is four years too long a development cycle in today's MMO space?

Gazillion acquired NetDevil, and when its strategic interests diverged from TLG's, TLG acquired full control of LU. Does that mean all the LU IP (concepts, characters, models, music, algorithms) could be repurposed?

Also:
0:32 - Robot lifts bin of just-manufactured elements into towering grid storage
2:23 - Metal shelves with most of Starfleet

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