Sunday, March 9, 2008

Brick by Brick

Lego Star Wars has been a massive success in the videogame
market, but the Danish toy manufacturer has been making other serious
moves in the interactive space since 1999. Not only has
offered hundreds of games since it was launched over ten years ago, but
the company has also released Lego Digital Designer, a free tool
allowing users to create and build online using digital bricks.

It's this computer-aided design project that has eventually grown
to become Lego Universe, the massively multiplayer online game being
developed by Lego and North American studio NetDevil. Here, Lego's
director of business development Mark Hansen discusses combining the
physical with the virtual to create what could be one of the most
intriguing and unique approaches to the MMO market.

Why has Lego decided to enter the MMO market?

What's really unique now is that the technology is at a level where
we can get more than just a single child into a single-player game. Now
we're looking at getting a mass of children into an area to play and
interact with Lego. One reason for that is simply consumer demand –
kids have been asking us about playing online with Lego and their
friends. They see the space and the technology – things like Club
Penguin – and they want something like that. We see the uniqueness of
building a massively multiplayer online game to add on value to the
physical product that we have. When the child sits and plays on the
floor with an army and a castle and his Lego knights – that's what we
want to bring to the MMO experience, what's in the child's mind. It
needs to be alive, we can bring that dream alive.

Are you concerned about the competition and the costs in the MMO
and social networking markets? If you're not competing directly with a
game like World of Warcraft then you will be competing with Habbo Hotel
or Club Penguin...

We're definitely aware of them but I think our game is a much more
unique offering, it's a different selling proposition, it's a more 3D
immersive world but it also builds onto our physical product which
really makes a difference. There is a lot of competition but the market
is also very big. It's not about cannibalising one product in order for
another to be successful, it's about adding to the market.

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