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LEGO Universe To Shut Down 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-never-worked-with-my-knockoff-building-blocks-anyway dept.
CmdrStone writes "The Universe is ending in the eyes of LEGO. (Cheap pun, I know.) From the announcement: '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.' It's too bad; I enjoyed playing this game with my kids. Open sourcing the game would be nice."
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LEGO Universe To Shut Down

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  • Pun? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "The Universe is ending in the eyes of LEGO. (Cheap pun, I know.)"

    Er, where's the pun?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I for one have never heard of this game, and if I did I would gladly play it...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Same here. For a moment I thought the article was about a Lego theme park or something like that.

      • I remember when it was announced, and it was big news then. In fact, I actually had intended to buy it when it came out.

        When it did come out, I never even heard of it, and I read a lot of game magazines. I completely had forgotten about it until now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if this has anything to do with Minecraft... Too bad Lego didn't think to sue...

    • by brit74 (831798)
      I can't see any reason why LEGO would have standing to sue Minecraft. They're not that similar. It actually takes quite a bit to successfully sue someone for infringing on their IP. I've also seen a lot of clones of games that seem to manage not getting sued. Heck, I play "Words With Friends", and that's pretty much a complete copy of Scrabble.
      • by lgw (121541)

        Game rules cannot be copyrighted (though their presentation can be). Earlier Scrabble knock-offs were sued to oblivion because they copied the game board. Does "Words With Friends" use the same layout of bonus squares, or did they do something original?

  • Mine. Craft.
    • by nysus (162232)

      Yup. My kid loves Legos so I got him Lego Universe last year when it came out. He played it for a total of maybe 5 to 10 hours before getting bored with it.

      I bought him Minecraft a few months ago and he absolutely loves it. He gets to build structures and use his imagination in a way LU never allowed him to.

      • by greghodg (1453715)
        Same experience here, my 9 and 12 year olds lost interest in Lego Universe in a short time. By contrast, ROBLOX has maintaned their interest for years, although Minecraft gets about equal time these days. Lego Universe was too tightly controlled, not free form enough. ROBLOX has improved considerably in the last year, and it lets them do anything from simple local building to playing online in user-created games to learning how to code in LUA to script their own block behaviors.
    • He needs to do a "World of Minecraft". Plus he can then get sued by TWO major gaming studios for trademark violations.
    • by WarlockD (623872)
      Yep. I have a big plastic bin of legos I would take out now and then. Now I have minecraft that consumes my time:P

      I was in Lego Unerverse for a while and it just wasn't legos. You could only build set things. Even the rockets you use to transport around had to be built with three prebuilt modules. I could understand hunting down pieces in the world to build your "home" but you couldn't touch the rest of the world:P
  • Pun (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "The Universe is ending in the eyes of LEGO. (Cheap pun, I know.)"

    There is no pun here.

  • Man they screwed up! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:21AM (#38020820)
    Lego made huge mistakes with this game. The game itself was fine enough... I liked it, but here's what went wrong :

    - They released it with too little content in the beginning. This meant that all the early adopters (I was a beta tester) rushed out, bought it, installed it, started playing and in less than 2 days game play had, in the limited sized world capped out and decided ... I'll maybe come back when they release some more levels and content.
    - No thottbot or anything else worth using. This meant people who were too lazy to find it themselves had no place to get help with the quests. Oh well.
    - Chatting was impossible... if my son an I were in different rooms, we practically couldn't talk with each other. I had to yell across the house. Yes, I know there was chat, but it worked like hell.
    - Maps were AWFUL!!!
    - UI was extremely hard to figure out. It's pretty bad when people were comparing it to Everquest and Everquest was easier to figure out.
    - No family accounts. At the prices they were charging, no parents would spend that kind of money per month on a game... certainly not on two copies of the game so that their two kids could play together. If we could have bought one copy of the game and had two or maybe even three players from the same IP address playing at a time, we would have paid.
    - Game website including billing site was slower than hell.
    - No groups (at least at first), guilds would have been nice too.
    - No Scandinavian language support. This is a biggy... Scandinavians would buy a lump of cow poop if it said Lego on the side of it. But, Scandinavian children don't speak English. They would have sold 10 times as many copies and accounts if they had at least supported their native language (Danish) since even though Danish isn't the same as Norwegian and it's even harder for Swedish kids, it's still easier than English for them.
    - Account costs were a huge issue. Yes, World of Warcraft costs like $12.99 a month.. but that's a game being paid for primarily by people that make substantially more than $12.99 a month. My son and daughter each get a total of $30 a month in allowance and they work hard for that. $12.99 a month is just too high an amount for them to pay on their own if they ever want anything else. My son has occasionally purchased a game time card with his allowance, but certainly couldn't justify an account. $4.99 a month would have gotten them much less per account, but would have gotten them far more accounts. And the free to play version was just a joke.
    - They didn't sell the damn thing. I mean, really advertising for this game was dismal at best and the few advertisements they did make didn't have a focus. It was like they didn't know who to sell to so didn't sell to anyone.

    I can go on for a long time, but to be honest they screwed up on a scale which was unimaginable. It's a real shame too since this will most likely be Lego's last attempt at this and we'll all suffer because they screwed up.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I didnt suffer. Sorry that you did, buddy.

    • by SurfMan (969573) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:44AM (#38020922)

      You have summed it up quite nicely here. I also was a beta tester. After the game was released I quit playing it since I was done (end of content). Next my wife picked it up and my two boys (6 and 10) loved playing it too. I didn't have a problem slapping down the 80 euros for a year subscription. It's a small amount if three people enjoy the game. Although it's very unfortunate you can't play together.

      From what I heard about it they have 2 million players, of which about 100.000 are paying ones. I have NO idea what it costs to run a service like this, but you would think that 100.000 paying subscribers would go a long way.

      What I really liked was the fact that you could win real Lego prizes. They had some fun contests that, if you were #1 after a week, would get you one or more real boxes of Lego in the mail. Our Lego collection has been updated with a few nice additions :)

      I really liked the idea of introducing the MMO(RPG) concept to my children using Lego Universe. They see me playing LotRO so they have a good idea of how an MMO works. With Lego Universe they had a chance of doing the same on their own level. I am really sorry to see it go.

      • by Canazza (1428553)

        I had no idea about the real-world lego rewards. That sounds awesome. One of the reasons I was in the Lego Club when I was a wee nipper.

      • by ad1217 (2418196)
        beta tester here as well. I could not justify a subscription or even game cards because I could only play about half an hour a week! Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted.
      • $800,000 a year isn't much. Count the costs of servers to support 2 million people, how many admins you need, the electric bill... and you wanted new content right? So let's add a team of programmers.

        To put a bit of perspective. My salary personally is going to take quite a bit over 10% of that income.
        • by SurfMan (969573)

          I believe you made a slight mistake. If all of the 100.000 were year subscribers, then the tally would be on $8.000.000. And that number does not take into account the more expensive monthly subs. Again, I have no idea what running stuff like that costs, but would 8M *really* be not enough?

      • I was a beta-tester, as well. I liked the questing content, but making things with the virtual bricks didn't appeal to me, at all. It was tedious! If that was supposed to draw people into the game, maybe that was its downfall? I'm not an avid Lego builder at home, but maybe the virtual building was to attract all those people who are

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Short version: a building blocks social game where you could neither build nor socialise.

      Kiddo took a look at the free version, yawned, then went back to playing Lego Star Wars, and with actual Lego.

    • by DrXym (126579)
      The saddest part is other LEGO games fly like shit off a shovel. And you only have to look at the likes of Club Penguin or Moshi Monsters to imagine the possibilities for a LEGO MMO game done properly for kids.
    • by HBI (604924)

      If Scandinavian children don't speak English, why is it that almost everyone Swedish or Finnish I have met speaks the language fluently? Are they learning it in high school?

      It's so rare to run across a non-English speaker from Scandinavia that I note it more than I note those who do not.

      • by F.Ultra (1673484)
        Youi start to learn it at aprox age 9 but of course it will take some time before you start to learn enough to be able to read english comfortable. And children start to play with Lego way before their 9th birthday :)
    • by laird (2705)

      I'll second that about the lack of marketing. I'm a HUGE Lego fan (I have my VIP card, went to Lego Florida on opening day, bought the T-Shirt, etc.) and I only saw Lego Universe promoted once - at CES a year before it launched! And then the next time I saw it, it was a random, abandoned-looking box in a Game Stop's PC software section. No posters, no online marketing (other than it being discussed on fan sites), nothing. And if they can't sell ME a copy of Lego Universe, a lego-loving geek with disposable

    • by steelfood (895457)

      They should've gone with a micropayment scheme that maxes out at a certain (parent-specified) amount. That would draw in children (or really, their parents) more than a monthly fee for "unlimited" play time. The idea of having unlimited play time discourages parents from purchasing it and subscribing, because they're already unhappy their kids are playing video games all the time.

      It seems like they did some market research about MMORPG players, and made their business decisions based on existing MMORPGs. Th

    • by EnempE (709151)
      So in short, They should have invested more capital in development to make it bigger, available in more languages and easier to use, and then charge a hell of a lot less for the product and hope to get their money back?
      Actually you are absolutely right. How much money do you think that they hoped to make on the transformer cartoons ? None. They were made to sell toys. This has greater potential to a business than cartoons do, due to the better communication that it allows with the customers. Imagine b
  • by Sarusa (104047) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:39AM (#38020906)

    All you had to do for this game is make LEGO Minecraft.

    You could have been pooping in cat litter made of ground diamonds and wiping your filthy bum with Jacksons.

    But no, you made a LEGO MMO where you can't build freely. ...

    If you can't see how stupid that is, well, that's why your MMO is dead.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      The MMO was finishing development at just about the time Minecraft was making a name for itself. It was too late for them to make an MC-like game.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The idea of making a LEGO MMO where you can build freely was obvious... there's no way they had to wait for minecraft to give them that idea.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          True, but until Minecraft came along it wasn't quite so jaw-droppingly obvious how a game like that might work. I won't grudge them for not making the conceptual leap that the player character, rather than some omniscient Builder, should be doing the block-moving.

          • by Captain Hook (923766) on Friday November 11, 2011 @07:51AM (#38021630)
            LEGO is all about the idea of the user building stuff from basic components. How can that concept not have been incorporated into a generic LEGO MMO (as opposed to LEGO Star Wars etc)

            It's like having a Meccano MMO but only being able to allowed to see and chat to other users in a Meccano styled environment and not being allowed to build your own bridge just to see if it stays up.
            • by dzfoo (772245)

              Ah, Meccano! My mind is rushed instantly with a flurry of memories from my childhood. The weird thing is that it's a strange mixture of metal parts with sharp edges, and of 1980s Spanish pop music.

              I have a sudden urge to grab a screwdriver and my iPod.

                      -dZ.

      • Well, if Minecraft was able to do it, presumably other people would have been able to do it if they had thought of it.
    • by Jaqenn (996058) on Friday November 11, 2011 @10:01AM (#38022986)
      There's always Blockland:

      http://blockland.us/Video.html [blockland.us]

      I've only played the demo, but I've loved them ever since reading their IGF entry (http://www.igf.com/php-bin/entry2009.php?id=420):

      Blockland is a non-competitive multiplayer online sandbox game where players can build with interconnecting plastic bricks which are similar to, but legally distinct from, legos.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      But no, you made a LEGO MMO where you can't build freely. ...

      If you can't see how stupid that is, well, that's why your MMO is dead.

      the only way a Lego MMO with open building can even work in our modern, litigious world, is to have someone spying on all the users' creations at all times to see if anyone is making a gigantic penis or similar. Is that an economically viable model? I don't know, but they didn't go that way.

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:43AM (#38020916)

    1) Lack of content
    2) Creativity limited into nonexistance. I get it, they didn't want a bunch of people creating lego dicks and all that but honestly it is LEGO we're talking about here.
    3) Communication in the game was virtually nonexistent. Again, this game was supposed to house young kids and they didn't want people shouting DICKS in the chat all day.
    4) What you get for what you paid each month was not even close to acceptable.

    I could go on. I was tantalized when I first heard about this, but when they started taking the focus into little kids which means no difficulty, no proper Lego creativity, no nothing a little kid could not accomplish, I knew the whole idea was not going to last. To be honest, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did.

  • by mick_S3 (871725)
    Yea, my son is bummed they are closing it down. But I agree it would have been nice to have a "free build" area and some concept of a "family" account. Oh well. We have had a Minecraft server running on the LAN for the last few months, the graphics suck and the game is horribly buggy, but we all get to goof around together which is fun.
  • by braindrainbahrain (874202) on Friday November 11, 2011 @07:33AM (#38021556)
    Suggested alternative for those suffering withdrawal: Roblox [roblox.com]

    You get to build stuff in it!

    • by greghodg (1453715)
      My kids have been playing Roblox for over three years now, they still play it excessively. Everyone here is still all giddy about Minecraft, and they play that too, but Roblox is more fun. It just doesn't have the geek 'buzz' that Minecraft has. But the possibilities in Roblox are so much greater than Minecraft. You could implement Minecraft in Roblox, but not the other way around...
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Friday November 11, 2011 @07:57AM (#38021650) Journal

    Minecraft is what Lego Universe SHOULD have been. Simple as that.

    It's a perfect example of a giant megacorp throwing money at an idea and getting a feeble copy of what's already out there already.

    Want to rescue this? Lego could go to Notch and buy him out, BUT LEAVE HIM IN CONTROL. Give him the dream-amounts of money he needs to implement his fantasy-level of optimal features in Minecraft (and to remodel the blocks with the obligatory lego structure...).

    • by djdanlib (732853)

      Notch probably already has that kind of money. Over four million sales, averaging what, around $20? That's $80 million, and Mojang doesn't have hundreds of staff members to pay. They don't even run the multiplayer servers - those are run by the users! They do have an authentication service in Amazon's cloud, though that probably isn't costing millions per year.

      Lego could market an MMO where you were allowed to build everything you wanted, as long as they aimed it at adults. A lot of us would love to try tha

    • by Mozai (3547)
      > what Lego Universe SHOULD have been.

      You mean logging into a server and seeing someone replaced my house with a 24m tall penis made of solid gold blocks?

      One of the problems with running an MMO "for kids" is how much operating costs you'll need to spend on the lawsuits by American parents for "exposing children to content I don't like."
  • A lot of MMOs now a days ship with not much content. The problem is the publishers only care about pushing boxes off the shelves, not maintaining the game world. Once 20-40 hours of content are made they pack it and ship with a cursory note that the game can always be patched later. They then migrate 98% of the developers to the next project and leave a skeleton crew to maintain it and on rare occasion toss a crumb of content like a new equipment model or recolored monster. The marketing department goes
  • It's a thing that looks at space things.
  • I doubt they can go open source. Remember when John Carmack (id software) released their extremely successful game as open source less than a decade after it came out? DOOM had an impressive number of followers and it still does. But the Doom source code was missing something important: the sound routines were 3rd party, so they couldn't legally open the source to that.

    I suspect Lego's software is mostly 3rd party stuff, so I doubt they can release more than a small fraction of the code which they actually

  • Unless you are an already big name player like Blizzard, you need to look at having your MMO on at least one console to be able to keep up. If they would have had Lego Universe for a PS3 I would have been all over that.
  • by mmalove (919245) on Friday November 11, 2011 @11:24AM (#38024376)

    But seriously, they should have, and I'm glad that economically the poorer model flopped to make room for the superior game.

    I'd love a commercial sized team supporting a project like minecraft or dwarf fortress, I'd love to see what a project like that could do where innovative, genre creating design were combined with a dedicated and quality graphics and art team. Perhaps the last decade of failed MMO projects and successful ventures like the above stated minecraft/dwarf fortress will lure more publisher support for more innovation and less sequel.

  • There cost model was off, I have two kids and both are playing online games, mostly club penginue. Sure it's a little kiddish but the content is forever changing and that keeps the kids intrested. My son however started to play the free version of LEGO universal and found that he liked that but having both subscriptions was not going to happen, one of the other. That's when cost comparison came in and lego universe was more per year then club penguine is. If your going to bring out a game for kids, ei
  • They ought to merge with Minecraft. All the blocks become Lego blocks and everybody's happy.
  • The windows/mac client killed it for me

    There's no reason these days that a platform dependent client should be used for a game that's this compute non-intensive. Limiting your customer base by requiring a client, and having the client closed so you don't know what the heck is getting permanently installed on your machine are bad things.

    I'm pretty much done permanently installing random crap on my machine.

    The alternatives are "run in the browser" vs. "open source client". HTML5 wasn't good enough when they

  • As a fan of both lego and MMO's I am utterly shocked i never even knew it existed till now... wow... I wonder if that has something to do with it closing down...

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