Danish toy company LEGO recently announced that it will be releasing LEGO Worlds, an answer to the massively-popular Minecraft. Lego already sells Minecraft toy sets, so what was the thought process behind this decision? I am not so sure, and some people have cried “a little too little, too late” but I wonder about that assessment. Minecraft, as culturally significant as it is and as successful as it is, is no Lego. In fact, without the decades-old company and toy it’s quite possible that Minecraft would have never existed. There’s a reason that, when playing Minecraft for the first time, people refer to Lego. Sure, Minecraft might have nabbed Notch – the game’s creator – 2 bil, but Lego is worth several times that and has been for a long time.
But, this isn’t an article about Lego vs. Minecraft. That would be a short discussion and a bit of a pointless comparison.
Instead, I think the Lego announcement illustrates a few things.
First, it displays the fact that gaming trends or styles or mechanics, even very famous ones, die and return. It’s all very cyclical, just like it is in music and fashion. For years and years I have read game writers who claim the “end” of something or the “death” of another something, without considering that there are still popular gaming genres that have stayed alive for decades. If Lego could figure it out, the company might show Minecraft, who is the boss.
Second, it shows just how unoriginal many games are. Minecraft was not original or startling because it presented any new systems or ideas. It was new and refreshing because it presented standard ideas in such a simple, cheap, and easily delivered way. What should be more analyzed is how Notch and company decided to release Minecraft. I paid $10.00 US for it when it was in beta and never had to buy it again. Payment models are not rocket science, but you think they were when so many developers get them wrong. Minecraft changed things because it shut up and delivered without much hype or nonsense.
Third, it illustrates the massive difference between the indie market and the mainstream one. Gaming is as divided as any other genre of entertainment. Even gaming websites can be as divided and hard to break into as the movie industry. I deal with indie games all week long and one of the most common complaints is that press simply does not cover indie games. (That’s not true, actually, they do cover indie games as long as the indie game they are writing about is the cool indie game of the moment.) Mainstream gaming companies still own the sites, and Minecraft and Lego are two mainstream companies. Still, Lego could learn from Minecraft’s release.
Fourth, it shows how major companies need indie companies to steal from. How in the world did Lego not already have a Minecraft in their pocket? Why have we been subjected to Lego game after Lego game of the same design (sure, with a different title on each, like Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Lord of the Rings, etc) and why did those games have so little to do with freeform building, the core mechanic of LEGO? It took a small indie developer to show LEGO “Hey, players want to build things, freely, in a video game, not just control Batman through mindless level after level.”
So far, Lego Worlds is impressive but still a bit clueless. Why is Lego using another third-party developer to make a game that could be at the core of their experience? This makes, what, online Lego game number 3 and we have yet to see anything as simple as Minecraft? No multiplayer from the get-go? No modding? Does Lego understand that Minecraft’s simplicity is what sold all those units?
Why, for the love of plastic bricks, are we even seeing an early access from a company that makes billions of dollars?
Who knows what Lego is thinking? The point is that many gamers are looking sideways at this Lego announcement, fully expecting the company to get it wrong. I hope not, of course, but it would not surprise me if Lego still didn’t understand what was at the core of their appeal: building stuff with people… and unlimited options.
What do you think? I tell you what, while you think about it, here is some Not So MMO news from the past week!
Infinite Crisis is shutting down on August 14th
This is the news from the site:
“After much deliberation, we regret to announce the official shutdown of Infinite Crisis. We will end development efforts today and will close the service on August 14, 2015.
Between now and August 14th, the game will remain available to play completely free. If you have any questions, contact Customer Service for assistance athttp://support.infinitecrisis.com.
This was an extremely difficult decision to make. On behalf of the entire Infinite Crisis team we want to thank all of you for your feedback, support and for joining together to create one of the best communities in gaming. We've reached out for more input, and will report back when we hear from Turbine.”
That’s sad to hear! But also, a bit unsurprising. The game never seemed to gain an audience.
MechWarrior Online adds a new Mechlab, claims significant changes on the way!
MechWarrior Online Developer Piranha Games has taken sole ownership of the title and says the new Mechlab will help streamline much of the gameplay. Here’s an excerpt from our in-depth article that covers the newest release:
“What sets it apart? From our past and other games – you’ll have easy access and an overall broad view to get to your entire mech. You can focus on one piece at a time (column view), but we also have a huge warehouse UI that allows you to sort through everything in your “garage”. Very intuitive and easy to pick up. It shows stats, let’s you narrow down piece by piece into other parts of your mech, all from one screen.”
Dungeon Trackers’ launch does pretty nicely!
Joy City’s mobile fantasy RPG Dungeon Trackers took off this week on iOS and Android and nabbed a smooth quarter of a million pre-registered players. Anyone who signed up early will receive special rewards upon reaching levels 10, 15, and 20. Extra stamina points were given out during the day as well.
If you like card collecting and RPG elements, as well as creature taming, combos, Co-op boos fights, action-based combat and much more, check the game out. It looks promising!
Vainglory News - Fortress Joins the Fight!
Super Evil Megacorp's iOS MOBA, Vainglory, just introduced a new hero called Fortress.
Fortress' abilities include:
Packmates (Heroic Perk)
When Fortress is near an allied hero, he will move faster after 1 second. He will maintain this move-speed bonus so long as he’s alongside any allied hero.
Truth of the Tooth
Fortress marks the target enemy as prey and his next basic attack becomes a short-range lunge. Fortress and allied heroes gain move speed when moving toward anything marked as prey.
Law of the Claw (see the theme?)
Fortress claws his target for crystal damage and causes it to bleed. Bleeding targets take damage every second. Attacks from Fortress and his allies have lifesteal against bleeding targets and increase bleeding by one stack. Upon reaching max stacks, the target is dealt a burst of damage based on its max health, is slowed and receives mortal wound (-33% healing).
Attack of the Pack
Fortress howls, gaining increased health and attack speed and calls to him a pack of wolves. Each pack wolf seeks out a different enemy hero. These wolves apply bleeding with their basic attacks.
Check out the latest Vainglory update on the App Store.
Pixel Starships: 8Bit Starship MMO Launches KickStarter!
OK, so I really want to play this game now, please. Unfortunately the news from this one is that it’s just another Kickstarter (remember when games were games and not promises?) but it does look very… promising. The “8-bit” stuff gets pretty tiring after a while as well, but again this one seems to take it in an original direction. We hope! The developers liken it to “Star Citizen in 2D” but that does nothing for me as my eyes tend to gloss over when talking about Star Citizen.
Check out the Kickstarter page and donate if you would like to!
The first beta of Armored Warfare began with 1 meeeelion early-access players.
The first round of the Early Access testing contained features like:
38 vehicles from multiple countries of tiers 1 to 6 (including light tanks, destroyers, AFVs and SPGs)
Multiple tank upgrades (including smoke grenades and ERA)
Wide range of shells to use against your opponents
A clan (“battalion”) system and a platoon system
If tanks are your thing (and in case you hadn’t played lobby-based wargames enough yet!) then check out the official site! I’ll see you all in two weeks! Have fun!