How LEGO Universe Can Match the Success of Free Realms
With Free Realms taking over his household, Danny "Ralsu" Gourley had almost forgotten that NetDevil is hard at work on a LEGO MMO titled LEGO Universe. The building block dynamic has mass market appeal, but SOE's game has a lengthy head start. Ralsu examines some ways NetDevil can succeed by employing the same strategies used by SOE:
Just as Free Realms characters change appearance depending on the job being performed, LEGO Universe characters will need to exhibit the same flair when moving between tasks. While I have run races in LEGO Star Wars, the MMO will need to let me don a special racing outfit to match the feeling of pride I get with Free Realms.
For four straight weeks,
Realms has dominated the PCs in the Gourley
household. Dad, Mom, and daughter all have a character. Somebody even
has a subscription (but we wont say who). In the Ten Ton Hammer
forums, Dalmarus has started href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=42652"
target="_blank">Free Realms Anonymous and bravely
admitted his addiction to a very casual game that is tons of fun.
Regardless of how the press ratings come out, style="font-style: italic;"> Free Realms is
already successful in my mind. To convert a hardcore inactive Marine
who enjoy bloody games with dark stories like Dalmarus and to make me
forget about href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1303"
Online for a whole month means a lot to me. In
the face of such a successful family game, NetDevil should be paying
close attention while designing href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/170"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 150px;" alt=""
You can bet that LEGO pirates vs. LEGO
ninjas will become a heated debate.
The LEGO brand is easy to find around my home. My daughter has
a LEGO house that she builds out of adorable pink and brown blocks.
Sometimes she tears it apart and rebuilds it with adorable white
blocks. Occasionally she moves the door, adds a window, or builds a
chimney. We all play LEGO
Star Wars: The Complete Saga on the Playstation 3, each of
us with a different style and favorite character. Thats the beauty of
LEGO: it provides countless customization options and no two people see
the same thing when looking at a pile of unassembled bricks.
LEGO basically is a household name in the US, with giant
insectoid aliens and medieval play sets marketed to boys and fairy
castles and pet stores marketed to girls. In between, everybody gets
caught up in themed sets featuring famous intellectual properties (IPs)
and Star Wars.
It would seem NetDevil has a ready-made market for style="font-style: italic;">LEGO Universe, but
the company would do well to mimic some of the popular design elements
of Free Realms,
which will have a considerable head start by the time the block
building title launches.
the beginning, NetDevil should consider the accessibility of style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms, which
can be played on almost any PC. A tiny browser plugin that takes just
seconds to download and install gets a style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms player
up and going on a PC at a friend or relatives house in no time. The
browser-based delivery of Sony Online Entertainments adventure removes
almost all of the barriers to play it. If style="font-style: italic;">LEGO Universe
requires a retail or digital purchase to play or has beefy system
requirements, a lot of the potential market is left out from the start.
remains free to play after the free download, so NetDevil has to think
carefully about how to market LEGO
Universe. Though some Free
Realms content is restricted to subscribers or to
microtransactions, parents can safely turn a child loose and get plenty
of fun out of no investment other than time. Were style="font-style: italic;">LEGO Universe to
charge a subscription, parents would likely hesitate to part with the
cash for a child to play when SOE has a great kid-friendly title for
free. At the very least, NetDevil must offer family subscription plans
and top value for their price point.
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 279px;" alt=""
LEGO Universe offer a trading card game like the one in
Part of the value NetDevil must offer is a lot of versatility.
allows players to fight, train pets, race in cars, play board games,
play a trading card game, complete collections, cook, and even be a
postal worker. LEGO can do most (if not all) of those things, too, but
it must be packaged as cleverly as SOE did to make a splash. Just as style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms
characters change appearance depending on the job being performed, style="font-style: italic;">LEGO Universe
characters will need to exhibit the same flair when moving between
tasks. While I have run races in LEGO
Star Wars, the MMO will need to let me don a special
racing outfit to match the feeling of pride I get with style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms.
The flexibility of LEGO
Universe also must include the ability to quickly switch
from one type of gameplay to another as the whim strikes me. In style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms, I can
stop a quest and leave an instance whenever I want; Im never locked
into anything. In a three-hour span while I wrote a guide and this
article, my daughter must have jumped into and out of at least ten
different instances in Free
Realms. She could fight one or two monsters and then leave
to go harvest some berries. She didnt care that she didnt complete
the quest. She was too busy having fun.
One major way LEGO
Universe can score some fun points is with its building
dynamic. Allowing players to collect blocks to build their own homes
and vehicles would be a terrific start and would trump the basic
merchant system used for karts in Free
Realms. Another option is to allow players to craft their
own gear, from weapons to armor to tools.
NetDevil may not be looking at SOEs
style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms as any
sort of competition or as a model for success, but I think it would be
foolish not to learn from the experiments SOE has already conducted.
The publishing behemoth has shown that a fun casual game can be a huge
hit when it is widely accessible both technologically and monetarily,
it caters to a wide variety of play styles, and it offers flexibility.
If NetDevil can mimic some of the elements of style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms, style="font-style: italic;">LEGO Universe could
be an even greater success because of the vast appeal of the IP.
Meanwhile, a decision to ignore Free
Realms as something completely dissimilar with a different
target demographic could make a LEGO MMO a day late and millions of
Do you believe in LEGO
Universe? href="mailto:mailto:%[email protected]">Email
your thoughts or post them href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=42757"
target="_blank">in our forums!
Though I, too, have joined the ranks of Free Realms Anonymous,
I have been trying out new free MMOs in my spare time. I beta tested style="font-style: italic;">Twelve Sky 2, which
is being published by Aeria Games, for almost ten whole minutes before
I uninstalled it. Ill leave you with the description of the game I
gave my wife and move on:
[Read in movie narration voice]: In a very brown world,
somebody needs you to do something. Youll have a hard time figuring
out what, so instead youll eat a sandwich while your gorgeously
rendered character auto-fights hordes of lookalike enemies. If you can
go at it long enough without gouging out your eyes, youll get a chance
to participate in the fierce PvP the game supposedly offers.
If you like that I found out about the brown brown (so brown)
world of Twelve Sky 2
and warned you away from it, I have some bad news. The Top Free MMOs is
going on indefinite hiatus with the completion of this weeks article.
The truth is that I have only three months left to write for Ten Ton
Hammer (my decision), and I have too many things I want to accomplish.
To get as much done as possible, I am retiring the list. After my
departure, perhaps another writer will bravely step forward to pick up
where I left off in this important community service (Hey, if you dont
think its community service, you try playing href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64553" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Nostale!).
I leave the list exactly as I had it last week, but I want to
make some notes here. If I were to include games that restrict content
to subscribers, Free
Realms would top the chart. style="font-style: italic;">Wizard101 would
come in just behind Dungeon
Runners. My personal watch list includes the style="font-style: italic;">Ys MMO, but that
game is limited to Europe right now, which is why I am not adding it
here. I also follow Torchlight
with keen interest.
I hope you have enjoyed reading the Top Ten, and Ill see you
in the forums.
May 6, 2009
is a squad-based fantasy strategy game that breaks the mold. Players
can control up to nine characters at once in fast-paced turn-based
combat. A lot of the systems in Atlantica
are different from the standard fare on the market.
Ton Hammer Review
provides so many things to do that it earns its self-appointed moniker
of A Fantasy Life. Players can farm, play music, hunt, craft, go to
school and more in this fantasy land. In style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi, combat is
not the only way to advance.
( href="http://www.runesofmagic.com/">www.runesofmagic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Runes of Magic
is a traditional fantasy game that uses a Dual Class system to inject a
little strategy into character planning and a lot of flexibility into
grouping. RoM has all of the features gamers want in a
subscription-based game, but theyll enjoy them for free here.
of Magic Portal
(http://www.dungeonrunners.com style="font-weight: bold;">) NCSoft
is a hack and slash fantasy game that infuses every aspect of gameplay
with humor. DR makes fun of other games, the genre, and even itself.
This is the perfect game for a player looking to blow off steam after a
rough day at work.
is a horror-themed game that blends the traditional elements of MMOGs
with the visceral feel of a gore film. style="font-style: italic;">Requiem is worth a
look because of its fresh take on setting in MMOGs.
Aeria Games &
Dream of Mirror
Online puts the player in the starring role of a classic
Chinese myth. The eastern-based lore provides a refreshing twist on
MMOGs, and the multi-class system makes character development in this
fantasy game fun.
Megami Tensei: Imagine Online brings the popular RPG to
life in the MMOG sphere. Players can use friendly persuasion or
aggressive coercion to get demons to fight by their side. The dark
subject matter and modern setting of the game is a welcome contrast to
the enchanted glens filled with pixies we often find in MMOGs. style="font-weight: bold;">
( target="_blank">www.playrohan.com style="font-weight: bold;">) YNK Interactive
is a traidtional fantasy
MMOG with deep lore and nice graphics. The world features intense PvP,
gambling, and a few creative systems for managing gear. The level curve
steepens midway through the game while the story diminishes.
- target="_blank">Ten Ton Hammer Review
( target="_blank">www.exteel.com/us style="font-weight: bold;">) NCsoft
is a visceral PvP-centric game featuring mechs and beautifully designed
uses a lobby system to connect players, and people can upgrade their
mechs with resources found in game or purchased from the item mall.
( target="_blank">http://en.florensia-online.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Florensia Western Global
The peace in Florensia
is fragile and you need your friends as well as
strong allies to fight against sinister monsters on shore and at sea.
Train your skills, experience thrilling trips through the countryside,
load the cannons and hire a skilful crew to explore the ocean. Get
ready for Florensia! style="font-weight: bold;">
( target="_blank">http://cabal.ogplanet.com/main.og style="font-weight: bold;">) ESTsoft
players in a brutal world where people are on the verge of extinction.
Combat is pretty fast, and the difficulty level runs higher
the average game. The game requires grinding or grouping from
early level because of abrupt shifts in the difficulty of mobs. style="font-weight: bold;">
( target="_blank">www.freerealms.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Sony Online Entertainment
is a a 3D fantasy
world designed to encourage exploration and support casual play. With
graphics similar to WoW and all the gameplay of a standard MMOG, style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms could
appeal to adults. Its many minigames and events are designed to please
target="_blank">Free Realms Portal
( target="_blank">http://neosteam.atlusonline.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Atlus Online
is a steampunk
game set in a world where warring factions compete for a limited supply
of the resource Neo Steam. It was above average in most categories
during closed beta for the US, but it had multiple translation
problems. Atlus Online should iron out the kinks.
( href="http://warriorepic.com/">http://warriorepic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Epic is ready to begin the next round of closed beta soon.
It provides a fantasy hack and slash dungeon crawler experience with
some very innovative features, including the ability to choose
different character classes for each dungeon and a Warrior Hall that
grows with the player.
KingsIsle Entertainment, Inc.
is an online, wizard school adventure with collectible card
magic, and wizard duels! The game allows players to
create a student wizard in an attempt to save Wizard City and explore
many different worlds. In Wizard101,
cards are magic spells. There are
Fire spells, Ice spells, spells of Myth, and much more. The game is
free to download. To access all of the areas, gamers will need to
target="_blank">Ten Ton Hammer Review
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our LEGO Universe Game Page.