Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lego Universe Online Game to Shut Down January 31, 2012

Lego Universe.jpg
File this one under blog posts "about life".  If you're a geek like me, have a longstanding relationship with Legos.
When I was a kid, they were just bricks that you snapped together and built structures you could visualize with your " mind's eye".  Nowadays they come in kits that build actual models and working toys.  When I was a kid, we relied on the Revel company to supply us with models, but those models required model glue (remember that aroma?)  And when you were done, the models were not really  "workable" but instead were usually fragile and for display purposes only.  Oh, and as a geek who also had to take a decent amount of chemistry I can tell you a fair amount about the aromatic hydrocarbon called xylene (if memory serves me correctly) that gave the model cement its unique smell, but that is a completely different blog post altogether.
So... in the 80's I remember seeing Lego kits that were like models.  They weren't just collections of bricks, but were, when assembled, an island, a pirate ship, an airplane,  you name it.  I can remember sitting on the floor with my young nephew helping  him put together a pirate ship and pirate island.
The idea was brilliant.  Models that not only looked cool when they were assembled, but that worked and moved.  You could actually play with them!!!
I've got to give a lot of credit to the minds at Lego.  They have created amusement parks, podcasts, new lines of products, video games and they have supported movies and popular culture.  Being a family man Lego has been a part of my life for a long, long, time.
Last year Lego brought Lego Universe to market it was an online game in MMOG genre (massively-multiplayer online game).  I won't go into the descriptive details here, but it was one very cool, graphically intense game.  We immediately became subscribers and I loved watching the adventures unfold.  You can take a look at the image above for just a small example of what the game was like.  However, any business venture, Lego Universe needed to make money.  They offered users a limited free account to give them an idea of what it was like and then wanted around $10 per month for a full user account.  Unfortunately, despite the fact that Lego got over 2 million users, they could not convert enough of them to paying customers.  Therefore, after basically one year and change online, Lego has decided to shut the Lego Universe product down as of January 31, 2012.  Hearts are breaking all over the land of bricks...
Here is the press release:

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.


Further information:

Charlotte Simonsen, LEGO Group, +45 7950 6579 

For U.S. media: Kate Hancock, Triplepoint PR, 901-674-6443, Kate@triplepointpr.com

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