Are we entering a new era of LEGO video games?

A recent flurry of stories and rumours suggests LEGO video games could radically change in the next few years.

For many video game fans, LEGO games mean the template established by developer TT Games. The company is responsible for launching LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game in 2005, drawing inspiration from the prequel era of the Star Wars film series. It offered a cutesy, family friendly take on the Star Wars universe and won over many fans. Crucially, it inspired a very different (yet wildly popular) template for LEGO games going forward.

In the years following its release, the majority of LEGO games have followed the design template of LEGO Star Wars: simple action-adventure gameplay, dozens of collectible items and a much lighter tone than the source material. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga bends the rules of that formula, but it doesn’t necessarily break them. Although initial information suggests improvements to combat and exploration (amongst other areas) it’s still broadly recognisable to anyone who’s played a LEGO game in the last decade or so.

LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga obi wan kenobi featured

However, following allegations of poor working conditions, the LEGO Group is ending its exclusivity agreement with TT Games. This means that going forward, TT Games won’t be able to veto any deals the LEGO Group makes with other games developers.

Another recent rumour suggests that the LEGO Group is developing several new LEGO sports video games with 2K Games. A football title is supposedly due for release later this year, with UK studio Sumo Digital handling development of it.

While nothing has been confirmed, this suggests that future LEGO video games could look very different to those of the TT Games era. As such, there are a few different directions these games could go in.

It’s possible that any new LEGO games build on the TT Games formula – if not directly in gameplay mechanics, then certainly in spirit. A LEGO sports game would certainly be family-friendly and offer simple, accessible gameplay in the same way that TT Games’ efforts have. It’s also likely that those games’ sense of humour would be preserved.

Another possibility is that the LEGO Group continues to explore new ideas, inside or outside the mobile space. LEGO Builder’s Journey is a puzzle game that debuted on iOS devices in 2019. It’s since appeared on various other platforms, and offers a more realistic, minimalist approach to a LEGO video game. This might foreshadow other more experimental games, or ones that focus on the physicality of the LEGO product.

Finally, a long shot is that the LEGO Group returns to its roots – video games that more closely marry game mechanics with player creativity. Early efforts like LEGO Island, LEGO Creator and LEGO Racers combined conventional game design with a chance to express oneself. In LEGO Racers, for example, you could build your own racing car before taking it to the racing track.

Titles like LEGO Worlds (released widely in 2017) explored this idea in more detail. However, given the comparative popularity of similar products (like Minecraft) this is one experiment that doesn’t appear to have been successful.

Ultimately, it’s anyone’s guess right now what a new LEGO game could look like. But the TT Games controversy (and the stale nature of its game design) suggests a golden opportunity for LEGO games to get more creative.

Header image: LEGO Gaming

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