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LEGO Universe End Game November 8, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, lego, Misc MMOs.
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It seems that the troubled story of LEGO Universe now has an end date.

A press release went out last week and email notifications started going out to users after that letting everyone know that LEGO Universe will be shutting down on January 31, 2012.

On March 5, 2007 a press release went out announcing that LEGO and NetDevil would be joining forces to create a LEGO themed MMO.

At that point, in the MMO world, NetDevil was primarily known for its troubled Auto Assault online game, published by NCsoft, which would be closed down in July of 2007.

LEGO Universe, after a couple of missed dates, eventually went live just over a year ago, on October 26, 2010.  And it has had problems ever since.

Originally a traditional “buy the box, pay a subscription fee” model MMO focused on kids and claiming to offer parents ease of mind on safety issues, it failed to distinguish itself on all counts.

Its well established main competitors (e.g. Club Penguin, online since 2005 and Toon Town, online since 2003) offered free to obtain, free to play options along with parental controls on par with LU, while pay to play games like World of Warcraft offered superior parental options.

So the only real draw was LEGO base game play, and LEGO Universe failed to stand out in that department as well, as so accurately documented by Oz over at Kill Ten Rats.  In our own house, my daughter tried the game and went quickly from enthusiasm to boredom.  She stopped playing and has never asked to play the game since.

NetDevil bowed out of the LEGO Universe drama with a press release on February 24, 2011, which also pretty much ended their existence as part of Gazillion Entertainment, which purchased NetDevil back in July of 2008.

In June 2011, LEGO announced that LEGO Universe would go to a free to play model, the current panacea for all ailing MMOs these days.

All of which brings us to today’s email blast from LEGO.

Hello Adventurer, today we are very sad to announce that LEGO® Universe will be closing on January 31, 2012. This was a very difficult decision to make, but unfortunately LEGO Universe has not been able to attract the number of members needed to keep the game open.

We realize how sad this will make the many players who have enjoyed LEGO Universe and we are committed to providing open communication with both kids and parents as we transition through this difficult time. We understand this is a challenging change and apologize for not being able to give parents forewarning before the general announcement.

We are thankful to have had the opportunity to share this adventure with an amazing community of players. We hope you will continue to enjoy LEGO Universe for the last few months. As a thank you, if you are a paying subscriber on December 31, 2011, we will provide you the full game for the final month for free.

Again, we want to thank the fantastic community of players who made LEGO Universe such a vibrant, fun and creative experience.

Hello Adventurer, today we are very sad to announce that LEGO® Universe will be closing on January 31, 2012. This was a very difficult decision to make, but unfortunately LEGO Universe has not been able to attract the number of members needed to keep the game open.

We realize how sad this will make the many players who have enjoyed LEGO Universe and we are committed to providing open communication with both kids and parents as we transition through this difficult time. We understand this is a challenging change and apologize for not being able to give parents forewarning before the general announcement.

We are thankful to have had the opportunity to share this adventure with an amazing community of players. We hope you will continue to enjoy LEGO Universe for the last few months. As a thank you, if you are a paying subscriber on December 31, 2011, we will provide you the full game for the final month for free.

Again, we want to thank the fantastic community of players who made LEGO Universe such a vibrant, fun and creative experience.

Sincerely,

The LEGO Universe Team

The Details:

  • The game will be turned off on January 31, 2012 at midnight (EST).
  • All current subscribers (1, 6 or 12 month plans) who still have active subscriptions on December 31 will receive a refund for any remaining game time remaining after December 31 as well as free play from January 1, 2012 until January 31.
  • For example, if you purchased a 6-month subscription on September 1, 2011 (which would expire on February 29, 2012), you would be refunded $16.66 for the 2 months following December 31.
  • We will begin processing all refunds on February 1, 2012. All refunds will be made to the credit card used for the original subscription.
  • If your subscription expires before December 31 you will need to purchase an additional 1 month subscription by December 31 in order to get the free game play in January (again, any unused game time as of December 31 will be refunded.)
  • LEGO Universe game cards can only be used until December 1st 2011. Unused game cards after December 1st can be converted to LEGO Shop @Home gift cards for the same value.
  • Please note: Details on how to convert unused game cards will be posted on December 1.
  • You can continue to enjoy the free to play zone until January 31, 2012 but your last chance to convert to a paying subscription is December 31, 2011.

There is an additional FAQ with more details available.

And so a sad end to a game with such promise.  There is no curse like failing to live up to ones potential.  And I am sure this was a hard decision at LEGO.  Once you have all that effort sunk into a project, once everything is in place, once the machine is running, it is tough to just turn the switch off and send everybody home.

But LEGO has been through tough times of its own.  The first decade of this century saw them stumble and really have to rethink how they did business after many years of simply succeeding because they were LEGO.  That lead to a series of tough decisions that brought them back from the brink and set them to focus more on profitability than market share.

And that focus is clearly being felt now.  LEGO Universe isn’t hitting its goals and is going to be cut.

I am sure this is sad news for those who play the game.   I certainly find it sad, if in a more abstract sense, since we haven’t played it for months at our house.

In the end though, they appear to have failed to capture the essence of what makes LEGO building sets popular.

What should have been the direction for LEGO Universe?  Less “block-based WoW” and more “LEGO Second Life?”

(The latter with more parental controls and less some smaller quantity of flying penises, of course.)

Comments»

1. Tesh - November 8, 2011

I can’t help but think that Minecraft tapped the LEGO building urge far better than LU. At least for me, I don’t want to play a LEGO game and wind up with a weak WoW ripoff, I want flexible creative tools. It shouldn’t have given into the DIKU temptation.

From what I’ve heard the F2P translation didn’t really work well either. I think they should have built around the Guild Wars/Puzzle Pirates microtransaction model from day one. The modular design of LEGO fits that perfectly, but they went with a DIKU sub game. It was mismatched from the start.

2. HarbingerZero - November 8, 2011

Eh…surely you mean with more parental control and *less* flying penises, yes? (-:

3. Wilhelm Arcturus - November 8, 2011

Less flying penises? I suppose.

4. bhagpuss - November 8, 2011

“Fewer” flying penises, I think.

Pedantry lives.

5. Wilhelm Arcturus - November 8, 2011

I cannot abide that.

6. Gazimoff - November 9, 2011

I agree with Tesh on the point about Minecraft – the construct options were much richer and more accessible. I think if the game had encouraged this approach they’d have shifted more subscriptions, sold more item shop inventory and turned more virtual constructions into real plastic bricks.

Alas, the game (although very engaging) was too much like Warcraft. Although the community controls were very sophisticated, the theme park content was not.

Maybe they’ll do a sandbox creator/constructor kit?

7. Dolnor - November 9, 2011

It is a sad time for all us LEGO builders, in-game and out. I got a chance to meet the Devs at E3 2010 and they were a great bunch. They had many more plans for the game for 2012. I feel if it just had more time to mature into something awesome. I wish LEGO could have kept a small support & new content group, much like Disney’s Pirate of the Caribbean Online currently runs. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

And this greatly impacts the LEGO Universe staff…some who have families. I hope all are gainfully employed soon in these trying financial times! -*(

I fully support all LU players and forum posters to mount a “Save LEGO Universe” campaign. Good luck to everyone! -)

8. darrenl - November 9, 2011

I think Minecraft is scratching the itch that LEGO Universe failed to reach. No?

9. Wilhelm Arcturus - November 9, 2011

@Darren – He lives!

I think at our house, actual LEGOs are scratching the LEGO itch.

Minecraft holds no interest for me. But that is just me.

10. Stratagerm - November 10, 2011

Before I’d heard of Minecraft I was hoping Lego Universe would be a sandbox builder. I was aghast when I learned how Lego Universe turned out. It’s no surprise to me that LU has failed.

Meanwhile, Minecraft has captured imaginations by delivering a sandbox builder and has grossed $77 million to date!

11. darrenl - November 10, 2011

Oh yes…I live. More lurking than talking these days ;)

12. uknj - November 23, 2011

Very sad to hear about it, but not surprised tbh, too many things wrong with the f2p version, and therefore ppl are less likely to pay for membership esp. when its more expensive than other mmorps..
UK

13. David Rodrigues - December 30, 2011

I am a LU subscriber and i think that LU was great but some things that they really worked hard on didn’t worthed the effort and other simple things made the game awesome.
I think they were too much excited about Bricks n’ Property n’ stuff that they didn’t worked so hard on MMORPG, Fightin’ stromlings and Battle stuff.
If they had worked a little harder on these things and weren’t so concentrated on Bricks n’ Property models, they will have succeeded to make an awesome game that will attract more people.
One last thing:I think a little more advertising on PC and TV will increase players a lot.

Dave
Professional Game Rating Agency: Dave&Jackson.ltd

14. Glockenspiel - February 11, 2012

I think that it could have been more successful if they included past lines like the ever-popular Bionicle. Just on that line alone they should have been able to get more money. And that is partly because that demographic now has money and can choose what they wish to do. Kids that grew up with Bionicle are now teens and young adults. If they did a Bionicle MMO, I can assure you that it would have been sophisticated. Choose Toa, Matoran, Rahkshi, Agori, Glatorian, or Dark Hunter and each would have advantages and disadvantages. There would be so much to explore and learn, the environment would be family friendly (as much as Bionicle can be) while still being mature enough to compete with games such as WoW and SWtoR. They failed because the demographic this game targeted is too young to have money and they charged too much. The free-t-play zone was too small and didn’t really give first-time players a good idea of what the game was about. You couldn’t join a faction, you couldn’t travel, you were limited in so many ways. And once your membership ran out, you couldn’t log in and play in the F2P zone, you would have to pay to keep playing.

Overall, they failed so hard, it made me pretty sad. I loved the game and still remember my Paradox marauder rank 3 character… But I can easily see why it failed

15. pieman - February 18, 2012

i really liked lego universe and im really sad it ended i remember i had a sentinel twohanded weapon and a level 41 character later i got a golden hammer which is a 1 hit ko attack to any enemy i love the game and now i am taunted everytime i get a lego set it makes me very sad i wish we the players had gotten a chance to voice our opinions to the lego group. if only we could have done somethin. it took a great lot of effort to make that game and is a terrible ending i mean they could at least tell us whther we won against the enemy or lost


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