LEGO Universe to close operations, lay off 115 employees [News]

Breaking news from LEGO. It appears that LEGO Universe will be shutting down at the start of the new year. My heart goes out to all those who will be losing their jobs. Here’s 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.

LEGO Universe logoNovember 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 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.

12 comments on “LEGO Universe to close operations, lay off 115 employees [News]

  1. OrangeKnight

    “All affected employees will be offered assistance in finding new jobs inside or outside the LEGO Group.”

    That’s good to hear, you rarely hear stuff like this in the Games Industry, its really disheartening.


  2. Curtis

    This is unfortunate news for those losing their job. In all honesty though, I never saw Lego Universe lasting very long. It was a neat idea, but kids can’t afford the subscriptions, and how many parents want to dish out money on something their kids in all likelihood wont be interested in a few months down the road.

  3. samrad

    Im not surprised either – I signed up to the original beta test group and wasnt impressed. There was no option to chat as an adult and the MMORPG model doesnt really work for kids who dont have the disposable income. Every time Ive tried to log in since I either got an unable to connect error or it wants to download a massive patch which I couldnt be bothered to wait for – If I wanted to wait half an hour before playing a game Id dig out my old spectrum zx. Nice idea but probably better to make it free and advertise the sets through it

  4. ikarus

    Yeah, I’m not surprised either. After testing the beta, I wasn’t able to purchase a license (’cause they don’t sell it in Romania, neither is it available online).

    That’s the case for most of my community (actually, I don’t know a single paying player). I’m sure they would’ve had a lot more customers if they had gotten this right – I just wanted an acces code, no physical product.

  5. samrad

    I just tried it again – it took 36 minutes to update (I’m on a decent ADSL connection 736k down) I left it, came back and it let me in. It got as far as venture station before bombing out with no error message, the app just closed.

    If they can’t get basic stuff like that working it’s little surprise no-one would pay for it.

  6. proudlove

    Then, samrad, you have more problems than you can blame on the game because I’ve never had much trouble with it. It has never crashed and patches take a reasonable amount of time. I’m pretty choked they couldn’t keep it going. My son and I love playing the game together. I think the only failure here is maybe in marketing. The game is absolutely brilliant for casual-ish gamers with kids into Lego, of which I’m sure there must be many, most of which may never have discovered the game.

  7. samrad

    to be fair I did try again and it played fine. The 36 minute update seemed a bit excessive though. I regularly play starcraft II and that updates frequently but never that long

  8. Brad

    Josh Augustine at PC Gamer wrote on LEGO Universe’s closure, basically saying that the game is a great MMO and a great candidate for free-to-play, but that the game never really embraced the strengths of a f2play microtransaction game.

    I played in the beta, but the game never really grabbed me. Hindsight being 20/20 – and hearing so many defenders – I wish I’d spent a bit more time in it.

  9. CorporateGoon

    @ samrad “The 36 minute update seemed a bit excessive though. I regularly play starcraft II and that updates frequently but never that long”

    maybe because you play SCii regularly…take a month or two off while you play GOW and it might take 36 minutes to update. just saying.

    Make a sandwich, drink some water, brush your teeth, come back to the computer, almost done. Surf the interweb. Lots to do while it updates.

    I initially didn’t play Universe, but when I did, I found it quite engaging. Unfortunately, I have an older computer, so it would lag at times and make solo missions almost impossible on the higher difficulty planets. I did enjoy the different aspects of the game: racing, building on properties, acquiring new skills, and interacting with thousands of players…well, maybe not thousands…

  10. Phaedriatica

    “All affected employees will be offered assistance in finding new jobs inside or outside the LEGO Group.”

    This is not true. The LEGO group hired a friend of mine to work in their Colorado office, causing him to move from California to CO. 3 weeks after he uprooted his life, they closed the division. They have not offered him any assistance whatsoever.

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