The project lead on "LEGO Universe" talked about the company's plans on developing the game for consoles. He also said that although the LEGO MMO won't be out this year, we can expect other LEGO titles in the interim.
Today, the LEGO Group announced their "strategic decision" to delay their LEGO MMO until after 2009 so as to not conflict with the release of other LEGO toy products. I also got a chance to speak with LEGO's Director of Business Development and "LEGO Universe" Project Lead Mark Hansen about console development and what other things the company has up its sleeve. Here's the rest of my interview from earlier today.
MTV Multiplayer: Are you concerned about too many LEGO games flooding the market, particularly with the successful TT Games offerings like "LEGO Star Wars," "LEGO Indiana Jones" and "LEGO Batman"?
LEGO's Mark Hansen: That's a very valid question, and it's definitely a portfolio management thing. It is about the spread, when to bring them out. But I think for 'Lego Universe,' [it's] not so much that, because I think it'll be around for 10-plus years. And we don't view it as, 'Okay, if a game comes out we can't launch another video game.' It's more about the physical product we have right now and how much market focus and how much other campaigns that we have thriving right now, and how much market conflict do we create with our main business. We think that 'Lego Universe' is a very strong offering and we want to have a window where we really push that product when we launch it.
MTV Multiplayer: As the director of business development, can you tell us what's going on with the other LEGO games?
Hansen: I'm not in the position to actually comment on that right now, but we do work very close with [developer of "LEGO Batman"] TT Games and ["LEGO Universe" developer] NetDevil about how we operate. It's very open, and we're pretty much in contact on a daily and weekly basis. As far as announcing games, I can't go further beyond that.
MTV Multiplayer: Are we going to see any more LEGO games in 2009?
Hansen: You will see more games in 2009.
Multiplayer: Have you decided on a business model yet for "LEGO Universe"?
Hansen: I think it'll be a regular subscription fee, but as of right now what will be free, or free content to play, hasn't been decided yet. I'm sure there will be different angles on how to play the game when that time comes.
MTV Multiplayer: I know many adults love Legos too, but do you think it's hard to make this game for both adults and children?
Hansen: I think this is what TT Games -- and what NetDevil is doing -- is very good at. They're finding that ability to bridge cross-generations into the gameplay. We see a lot of parents playing with their kids in "[LEGO] Star Wars" and "[LEGO] Indiana Jones" and different games that we have, so this is definitely something that has proven to be very successful for us. That's the gameplay we want to bring to "LEGO Universe." Cross-generation? Definitely, and there's a market out there for LEGO. The first kids who have grown up with Lego are coming to be adults. That's the big focus for us; finding the cross-generation LEGO gameplay in a virtual world. ...
We also have a very strong community around LEGO and LEGO gameplay. From the beginning, for us, we haven't pointed directly at kids but we do make it safe for kids. We see "Lego Universe" as a game for [all] ages.
MTV Multiplayer: Lately, there's been a big push for MMOs on consoles. Do you see "LEGO Universe" coming to consoles?
Hansen: I definitely see "LEGO Universe" coming to consoles. When? I know there's a few other [MMO] titles in the works coming onto consoles. We're still evaluating when it would be best to come out on console.
MTV Multiplayer: So you're saying it's only a matter of time before "LEGO Universe" comes out on console, but probably not at launch?
Hansen: Yes, I think that's a good response! [laughs] We've been working on the MMO for PC, and at the time we're not in console development for "LEGO Universe."
MTV Multiplayer: Do you think it's a major setback developing for consoles later? Because a lot of companies now are developing MMOs for consoles and PC simultaneously.
Hansen: We definitely think about that, and I think there are a lot of aspects to it. We could talk all day about the pluses and minuses. [laughs] The thing is, we have it on our radar, and we're looking at it. It's just when would be the right time for it to come onto a console.