[News] LEGO to Try Their Hand at New MMO Based on Collectible Minifigs

Today Funcom announced that it has entered a partnership with LEGO to create a new massively-multiplayer-online game. This time around it’s based on the phenomenally popular collectible Minifigures, which LEGO has been licensing out with surprising frequency, with them now appearing on everything from suitcases to pencil carriers and lunchboxes. Funcom’s most recognizable game to date was the dubiously successful Age of Conan MMORPG, which like nearly all MMOs that are not owned by Blizzard, withered away quietly to the deserts of free-to-play a short time after release. Funcom touts that the game will “focus on maximum accessibility,” which doesn’t bode well for sustaining the long-term interest and depth required to support such an expensive endeavor as an MMO necessitates. I am curious, however, about what sort of plot and world Funcom intends to tease out of what is, essentially, simply a random collection of figures. The press release is scarce on details, but that’s to be expected this early in development:

LEGO® Minifigures are the inhabitants of an unimaginable number of spectacular creations put together by both kids and grown-ups over the past several decades. Whether it is a knight in shining armor, a brave firefighter or just an oddball in a gorilla suit, these figures breath life into elaborately constructed cities, castles and even space stations around the world.

I do sincerely hope that this game will be more successful than LEGO’s last ill-fated foray into the world of MMOs, but the MMO market is notoriously hard to get even a foothold in, much less create a rousing success.

See the full press release from Funcom here.

via RockPaperShotgun.

14 comments on “[News] LEGO to Try Their Hand at New MMO Based on Collectible Minifigs

  1. Andrew

    April Fool’s? Sadly, no.

    “LEGO’s last ill-fated foray into the world of MMOs” cost a hundred people their livelihoods. Just sayin’.

  2. warhev

    ^ @Andrew
    Why does this need to be an “April Fool’s”? As implied in the article, MMO’s have a huge failure rate. Are you saying that any company that has failed with an MMO should not make any more again? Are you saying it is all the Lego Group’s fault, or does the developer have any responsibility? Is it not worth the risk? From what I have read, the company that developed Lego Universe (Net Devil, a division of Gazillion Ent.) is on to another licensed MMO, and (probably) will need to re-hire everyone they let go earlier. And if/when that MMO also fails, the cycle will repeat – that seems to be the nature of MMO development. Not sayng I agree with it, but everyone involved seems to know that’s how it works (at least until you get that “WoW killer”, which no one seems to have developed yet).
    I am interested to see what Funcom and TLG can develop together. I am certainly not gong to hate on a project until we see what comes of it!

  3. claytonjr

    TLG should try to buy Blockland (blockland.us) if they really want to insist in MMOs. It’s the best and funniest brick-based MMO/FPS I’ve ever played!

  4. Andrew

    I’m also sour on LEGO Universe (and thus, LEGO trying to get into the MMO market) because of the effect that it had on the LEGO fan community. TLG used adult fans as a vast pool of labor to build out the LU world. People I knew well and interacted with frequently suddenly fell off the face of the LEGO scene for months (or much longer) on end, only to turn up at a LEGO convention wearing a LEGO Universe jacket and unable to talk about what they’d been up to. It had a chilling effect on fan-to-fan interactions, and given the limited LEGO time that most of us have, the time spent laboring away in secret on LU was time not spent contributing publicly to the fan community at large.

    Bottom line: From my perspective, LU was bad for the LEGO fan community, regardless of financial failures or even the lost jobs that TLG and NetDevil employees experienced. I’d hate to see TLG pull the fan community back down that same path again.

  5. Creative Anarchy

    April fools because this isn’t an MMO, It’s an abstract concept with open ports for multiple players. There’s no world concept here, no story, no drama to participate in. TLG undertook a pretty daunting task with Lego Universe in creating a game for a very disparate group of fans and they did a fair job of making it secure and aesthetically pleasing. They just couldn’t manage to make it fun to play. This seems to be an even more radical step in the wrong direction. It really feels like the developers at TLG need to do more research into what makes at good MMO rather than just throwing spitwads and hoping to hit the target by dumb luck.

  6. natron77

    Just clearing up some info:
    NetDevil no longer exists. When LEGO bought out the studio and rebranded it as Play Well Studios, the small non-LEGO Universe portion of the studio moved to California to stay with Gazillion and NetDevil ceased to be.

    There is no remaining connection between Play Well Studios employees and Gazillion, and when/if Gazillion’s child companies make new games, it would be unlikely that any former employees end up there.

  7. Marc Fleury

    I would say that MMOs intended for kids really need to be on consoles. If this gets released on PC only, we won’t be getting it at my house.

  8. warhev

    Thank you for the clarification, and apologies if I sounded indifferent to the plight of MMO developers/employees! There are so many closings/restructurings/downsizing of game companies right now, I wouldn’t want anything to do with ANY game development. My thoughts are with all of them as they struggle to survive. To be honest, I did not know the specific situation with how the Lego Universe failure went down. If I understand correctly, you are saying that Lego made it’s own company out of it (Play Well Studios). Does this studio still exist, or are those the layoffs @Andrew was referring to? If it does still exist, why would they need or want Funcom? Sorry, this is all confusing to me!

  9. warhev

    Thank you for your reply. I can see where the trepidation for a new MMO would come from. I definitely feel that TLG was abrupt at pulling the plug on Lego Universe, and as stated in my reply to @natron77, I did not know the full situation regarding NetDevil/Play Well Studios.
    I do still stand by my statement regarding the new MMO. It sounds like it is going to be a “gateway” MMO, designed for younger players, which is something most of us won’t be interested in. Having said that, if TLG and Funcom handle it well, I feel this could be decent.
    I think I have been reading too many post-E3 video game comments recently where games that have only been announced are getting hated on, and your initial comments felt like more of that announcement bashing. Thank you for your clarification reply to my first post!

  10. 0937

    ‘ “LEGO’s last ill-fated foray into the world of MMOs” cost a hundred people their livelihoods. Just sayin’. ‘

    To be fair, of course, their last foray into the world of MMOs gave a hundred people livelihoods for the duration of the project.

  11. snowleopard

    @ Andrew from the 29th.
    I think you might be onto something there with community and the LU game development. I don’t build as much as I used to for many reasons (life, child) but it seems the LU project really did change my interaction directly or indirectly. I suppose it was a perfect storm moment for me and I have not been able to quite recover since.

    But that aside, my complaint with LU since the conception is that it was never geared for adult gaming. Which I understand completely but still you must attract gamers if you want any kind of sustained success. I’d point at Wizards101 for an example of a ‘kids’ game that is played by adults and seems to have had some sustained success.

  12. zane houston

    Do you know what I like? I like picking up rectangular pieces of plastic and attaching them together, with my fingers. I read half of these comments and got bored, lego’s MMO failed because lego isn’t a video game company, or at least it should stop trying to be. Sell me some delicious bricks and leave the MMOs out of it.

  13. proudlove

    Ya, Lego and video games has never worked. Lego Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones et al. were complete flops. The kids hated them. xP

  14. Nuparu

    For the record, I would be generally optimistic towards the outcome of LM, if it weren’t for one thing: I heard that this game is going to be completely free.

    Making the game free just has “bad idea” written all over it…it could change as the game develops, but to quote Han Solo, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

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