LEGO Universe ending in 2012

By Steve Watts, Nov 04, 2011 1:00pm PDT

The brick-based MMO LEGO Universe will be shutting its plastic doors in January of 2012, NetDevil announced today. The company didn't pull any punches in specifying the reason for the closure: the free-to-play zone was plenty popular, but the game just didn't attract enough paying subscribers to sustain it. The game's final day will be on January 31, 2012.

Unfortunately, this also means layoffs. Play Well Studios in Louisville Colorado and the marketing office in Billund, Denmark will both be closed, affecting 115 employees. The company says it will offer the displaced workers assistance in finding new positions.

"The LEGO Universe team can take pride in having developed and launched a great LEGO experience that many players will miss," said Lego Universe VP Jesper Vilstrup in the announcement. "Right now, we have almost 2 million players in LEGO Universe, and we get extremely positive feedback from players. Unfortunately, we have not been able to build a satisfactory revenue model in our target group, and therefore, have decided to close the game."

Mads Nipper, executive VP of the Lego Group and reigning champion of the coolest corporate name, says that Lego Universe gave them "valuable insights" that will be put to good use building future digital products.

It's growing more and more common to hear of MMOs struggling to maintain subscriber numbers, but a full game shutdown is a more drastic first step than we usually see. Many MMOs opt instead to switch to a fully free-to-play model. DC Universe Online saw great success from making the switch this week, and even World of Warcraft has adopted a quasi-F2P model. LEGO had dabbled in a F2P version that was more like a trial, but hasn't experimented with a fully-free model. Get your block-building antics in while you can.

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