Just last week I was complaining about LEGO Universe and how, given that its direct kid-focused competition almost all have a free to play aspect to their games, it was pretty much in a losing position in our house. Why pay for 30 days and patch when Animal Jam or Club Penguin are always just there waiting for you?
A monthly subscription MMO that requires a box purchase just doesn’t cut it in the kid focused market these days.
They are not going the cash shop route, ala FreeRealms. Instead, it appears that the model will be more akin to Toontown Online, where subscribing members will get access to content which non-paying member will not. (At least that is how Toontown was working last I checked.) The model, from the press release.
LEGO Universe will continue to generate revenue through paid memberships, and there are no plans for micro-transactions at this time. Players can try out the free-to-play zone for an unlimited period of time, and can pay $10 (USD) per month to become a LEGO Universe member and receive full game access. Those who sign up for extended memberships will continue to receive discount pricing.
The LEGO Universe free-to-play experience will offer a limited selection of game content, including two adventure zones and one player property area for building their own virtual LEGO models. Paying members will have access to all areas in the full game, along with membership benefits such as competitions and community events.
I wonder if the free portion will be enough to entice people, since it sounds somewhat limited.
We shall see if they can hold to that model. I think that a LEGO game that sold virtual kits through a cash shop might be an unstoppable force if done right. But that might be a bad, or at least a costly, thing for me.
And they are also doing away with the need to buy the box. Given the amount of patching that needs to get done once you run the installer from the CD, that is probably a good thing. I’m glad I didn’t pay full retail for my box.
Unless, of course, they just make the current installer from the CD available. That would be a bad thing. The whole patching from ground zero is one of the reasons I will likely never go back to Runes of Magic. Well, that and their patch process is/was complete crap.
So we’ll see what LEGO has really learned. A giant download and long patch process before being able to play can be a killer. So can an annoying sign-up process.
The allure of LEGO will drive some people, but just because you’re now giving some of your game away for free doesn’t mean instant success. Will LEGO adapt or will they just continue to bleed in new and different ways?