MMOsite Interview on LEGO Universe's Free-to-play Mode
Date: 09-24-2011 Views:
We recently had the pleasure to have an interview with the creators of LEGO Universe which recently went free-to-play. I wanted to personally thank them for taking the time to do so.
Michael Fuchs (MMOSite) : Hello! My name is Michael Fuchs, and I am a Columnist with MMOSite. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your position working on LEGO Universe?
My name is Jordan Itkowitz and I am the Design Director for LEGO Universe.
Michael Fuchs (MMOSite) : Could you briefly describe the gameplay of LEGO Universe for our readers that have never played the game before?
JI: LEGO Universe is an MMO where players create their own LEGO minifigures and then use the creative force of Imagination to fight against the evil, chaotic Maelstrom.
As you explore all of the worlds we have to offer, you'll collect loads of cool and crazy gear to outfit your minifigure, team up for epic battles against Maelstrom enemies, play mini-games, tame Pets, build and race your own race cars – and of course, collect thousands of LEGO bricks!
You then use these digital LEGO bricks to colonize small worlds called Properties, and it's there that you can truly unleash the powers of your Imagination! Build whatever you want in a virtual setting – models, playsets and more – and then use our unique Behaviors system to bring your creations to life!
It's a fantastic and novel way to play with LEGO bricks – and all with fellow adventurers and creators from around the world.
Michael Fuchs (MMOSite) : Recently LEGO Universe went free-to-play. What was the reason for this decision?
JI: Our main goal for this move was to get as many players as possible to try LEGO Universe. That meant moving away from a physical disc product and replacing it with a free digital download as well a Free to Play experience.
So far it's been very successful and has exceeded our expectations, with our in-game population growing daily by tens of thousands!
Michael Fuchs (MMOSite) : What made you decide to have an "unlimited" free-to-play trial with purchasable full membership over the popular free-to-play with cash shop business model?
JI: Given the audience we're trying to reach, a free-to-play/subscription experience seemed like a much cleaner way to create awareness and improve accessibility. And once you've become a paid member, everything in LEGO Universe is available to all players equally. For our core audience (8-12 year olds), this is a crucial consideration for parents, and directly affects how children view the overall gameplay experience. We want LEGO Universe to be about collaboration and creativity – earning rewards and achievements, not simply paying for them.
Michael Fuchs (MMOSite) : The free-to-play trial seems quite limiting (see here for a full list) compared to the full membership (only the first two zones free.) Do you feel that players will continue to play your game without subscribing in the long run? Or will they become bored by lack of content?
JI: There's a good long adventure contained in the first major world, Avant Gardens, where we introduce you to the Nexus Force's struggle against the Maelstrom, and charge you with defeating the Spider Queen that's corrupting the planet. Along the way, you also meet up and prove yourself to the Sentinel and Paradox Factions, get to sample a few Faction Specialty Kits, and level up your minifigure to about Level 10 or so.
We felt that was an exciting start that gives players a taste of what they'd experience in LEGO Universe, but there's loads more adventure, gear, mini-games and more beyond that point. We obviously hope that players really enjoy that initial experience and decide to keep going.
And of course, you can build endlessly on the first Property that you claim, Block Yard – and see what other builders across the Universe have created on their worlds.