Lego Universe Shutting Down in January

Lego Universe Shutting Down in January

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Next January, Play Well Studios will be disassembling its massive Lego project due to a lack of paid subscribers.

The Lego Group has officially announced that MMO Lego Universe will be shutting down on January 31st, 2012, after only fifteen months since its release. According to Jesper Vilstrup, a Lego Group executive, the game was good, just not enough to make players actually pay for it.

"Right now, we have almost two million players in Lego Universe, and we get extremely positive feedback from players," said Vilstrup. "Unfortunately, we have not been able to build a satisfactory revenue model in our target group, and therefore, have decided to close the game."

As part of the announcement, Vilstrub congratulated Play Well Studios on its effort, even as the game closes much earlier than anticipated, saying, "The Lego Universe team can take pride in having developed and launched a great Lego experience that many players will miss."

Regardless of how proud that team may or may not be, so goes Lego Universe, so goes their livelihood. Between the closure of Play Well Studios in Colorado and a separate Denmark-based marketing team, 115 people will be unemployed come January of next year when the game officially goes offline for good. The Lego Group has promised to help those laid off find work, but the details of how they plan to do so haven't been announced.

In a world saturated by successful free-to-play casual MMOs, it seems surprising that Lego Universe wasn't a slam dunk. Everything about the toy seems perfect for a conversion--different worlds with unique architecture and items, avatars literally built for customization, a fan-base consisting of everyone who's ever been age ten-but somehow, Lego Universe just couldn't stay afloat. It really makes you wonder just what exactly went wrong.

Source: Eurogamer

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Mike Kayatta:
Lego Universe Shutting Down in January

The game was structured for very young kids, right down to the "safe" (but very limited) chat features... but subscription-based gaming and build-it-yourself functionality aren't things that go well with very young kids.

Around the time this hit the market, Minecraft was just hitting its stride. You could build whatever you wanted, share it with whoever you wanted, and do so without a monthly fee. And you could do so in a game for grown-ups... or at least you'd know you weren't playing a "game for kids."

Lego Universe was trying to please two masters -- little kids (who can't pay monthly) and grown-up fans (who don't want to pay monthly for a game for little kids). The failure wasn't the game itself, but the marketing.

I never played it, but it's always unfortunate when a decent looking game gets shut down. But thats how free market works, if you don't make something that people want to buy you're just not going to make it.

When I played the beta, I loved the gameplay but was put off by costume sets. Essentially, you got bonuses for having certain arms, legs, helmets, etc. So instead of cashing in on the creativity afforded by Legos, they rewarded players for amalgamation. I'm not sure if that ever changed after launch, but that's the way it was.

Also, the brick collection is fun (as well as the character rewards from quests), but the only place where one could do custom building was in a private instance. To some extent, vehicles could be customized with certain sections, but rockets were only seen briefly before zoning, and cars were only used in racing, so the amount of customization you actually get to show off to other players is limited.

I kept getting their news letters, but I couldn't tell if customization was increased. I know they added more zones, but the newsletters never really generated enough buzz for me to visit their web site and see what changes had been made.

In short, I think Lego Universe tried too hard to be like other MMOs, with armor sets, epic loot, etc. And in a universe with as much potential as Lego, that was just a little irritating.

What a shame, they sound liek a good studio, what a rotten way to die.

If I had known this existed I might have played, no point now that it will be gone soon, oh well, back to my actual legos

Dastardly:

Mike Kayatta:
Lego Universe Shutting Down in January

The game was structured for very young kids, right down to the "safe" (but very limited) chat features... but subscription-based gaming and build-it-yourself functionality aren't things that go well with very young kids.

Around the time this hit the market, Minecraft was just hitting its stride. You could build whatever you wanted, share it with whoever you wanted, and do so without a monthly fee. And you could do so in a game for grown-ups... or at least you'd know you weren't playing a "game for kids."

Lego Universe was trying to please two masters -- little kids (who can't pay monthly) and grown-up fans (who don't want to pay monthly for a game for little kids). The failure wasn't the game itself, but the marketing.

That's a very good point. One of my other problems was that the chat filter was so constrictive it was impossible for me to actually help other players finding certain NPCs, locations, and items, because many words were blocked for no good reason. In an MMO where people can't even communicate very well (to protect the kids, of course), you're going to have issues.

Looks like 'my first MMO's' fan base didn't care either. Probably went to ToonTown.

Minecraft happened, that's what. Was there anything you could do in Lego Universe that you couldn't do in Minecraft?

Also, ToonTown probably has the target audience for that game.

Like it's been said several times, they got Block-blocked by Minecraft. Quite a shame too, it looked alright.

Then again, any lego-type game looks good after you've played Roblox for a year. Ugh.

I wonder, did the extensive phallus protection work?

I mean, its not being shut down for phallus related reasons, so perhaps it did!

2 million subscribers. And that's not enough? Okay. I'm sorry it's being shut down. I would love to have played it, but like many other people, I didn't have enough disposable income to shell out for a lego video game.

It's probably hard to reel in enough people to pay monthly when your target audience are younger gamers. They don't have the same disposable income that older gamers have.

tehweave:
2 million subscribers. And that's not enough? Okay. I'm sorry it's being shut down. I would love to have played it, but like many other people, I didn't have enough disposable income to shell out for a lego video game.

OK, maybe I should have read the article better...

2 million subs!? The fuck? How could that possibly not be enough?

UmJammerSully:
It's probably hard to reel in enough people to pay monthly when your target audience are younger gamers. They don't have the same disposable income that older gamers have.

tehweave:
2 million subscribers. And that's not enough? Okay. I'm sorry it's being shut down. I would love to have played it, but like many other people, I didn't have enough disposable income to shell out for a lego video game.

OK, maybe I should have read the article better...

2 million subs!? The fuck? How could that possibly not be enough?

Read the news post again. 2 million _players_ is not the same as 2 million *_subscribers_*.

I think Dastardly hit the nail on the head. Beyond the cold hard math of "not enough revenue", trying to serve two masters is never a good idea. Perhaps the code base can be revived in the future as two separate games... One aimed at the kids, one aimed at the die-hard adults (that have spent more on brick than most people spend on a luxury car).

That's what happens when you try to make a kids MMO, and then cockblock all the adults with petty restrictions designed to protect the children. Reminds me of terrible wii friend codes.

Glad my little brother never heard about this MMO, otherwise he'd start burning shit down!

Furioso:
If I had known this existed I might have played, no point now that it will be gone soon, oh well, back to my actual legos

Sad how some products can get so little marketing that the first thing anyone hears about it is when it's discontinued. How can capitalism fail on such a basic level?

Given that Minecraft is developed almost entirely by two guys in a loft in Sweden, I'm wondering if a bunch of LEGO fans couldn't just get together and build their own LEGO MMO (LMMO?), with a similar engine.

It'd definitely make it easier to decide what new features and add-ons to put in.

Perhaps a few of us could do it, maybe in a couple years, after the Minecraft phenomenon quiets down a bit?

Wait...there was a Lego MMO???

And here starts the beginning of the end of any Game that decides to go the subscription route! Ahem, MW3 better learn a thing or two.

guild wars doesnt have paid subscribers and they do fine, how can LEGO not do this?

Monthly fees for any MMO (that's not WoW, it's the only one I've seen that worked at all IMO) do not work. At least not with me, a lego mmo would have been fun to mess around with, I'm 19 years old and I just recently went back to neopets, I'm a big child, lol. I mess with any F2P mmo I find interesting, too bad this one wasn't it. I know you have to make money but look at maplestory, a game in it's American server swarming with young kids and tweens. I'm sure they're supporting it and its a F2P game. If they took off the subscription and offered maybe some cool lego sets or outfits to build with for a fee, etc, it would have survived.

Another MMO bites the dust.
Sad really. I expected a Lego-based MMO to have so much potential. The closest thing to a game where you can create anything is Minecraft and this other online game with a very annoying community of 10 year olds

archabaddon:

That's a very good point. One of my other problems was that the chat filter was so constrictive it was impossible for me to actually help other players finding certain NPCs, locations, and items, because many words were blocked for no good reason. In an MMO where people can't even communicate very well (to protect the kids, of course), you're going to have issues.

Yeah, but can you imagine the shitstorm if some mom called her local news station about internet language in a Lego game?

The brand as a whole is more important, so without having actually used the filter I think the right decision was made.

I also played this game while it was in Beta in 2010.

Man it was fun in beta.

Shame it had too little content to be worth a 9.99 (or something, I don't know the numbers) sub fee. Wish they ether dropped the monthly fee and just made you buy the game or just do a TF2 and make it F2P.

It was fun, Lego Universe, you will be missed.

add another failure to Netdevil's list of games that didn't make any money because they have zero skill as game developers. Hopefully this company stays broke and disappears so they can stop making half baked games with half baked idea's.

THEoriginalBRIEN:
Wait...there was a Lego MMO???

That's what I thought. It is so clandestine that none of my kids have yet to hassle me about it.

gaahh all this talk about MMOs failing. almost doesn't seem worth it to try sometimes with certain ideas :/

I'll be honest- I 've never played any lego games, due to demands of time/ money/ bluechip titles being released. Are they any good (giving example of genre etc) ? I say this completely ingenuously, and as a very experienced gamer. The latter definitely pushed me away from the series, but I am willing to be convinced otherwise.

Edit: there was a MMO? My ignorance is confirmed! But the single player games...worth playing?

i am surprized this didnt happen sooner

I just dont really see that age group playing a MMO let alone a subcription one while there are F2P ones already popular(neopets and monkey quest)

not to mention that whole code thing was essentially shooting themselves in the foot to boot

 

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