With the news that LEGO Dimensions is rumoured to be ending with the second year of content, Brick Fanatics considers what factors may have led to this not proving to be the juggernaut that the LEGO Group and TT Games were hoping for.
Although there has been no official announcement yet, it seems likely based on a recent article that the toys-to-life game LEGO Dimensions is about to be wound down. The LEGO multiverse adventure has included characters and worlds based on The LEGO Movie, DC Super Heroes, The Simpsons, Adventure Time and plenty more besides.
Here at Brick Fanatics, we have covered the progress of LEGO Dimensions and have reviewed the various packs that have been released. It is an innovative piece of the LEGO Group’s story, showing that the popular LEGO video games could be combined with the also popular physical product. Unfortunately, it looks to be a short-lived experiment like LEGO Universe – although will probably be at least a bit better remembered than that MMORPG will be.
The reasons for LEGO Dimensions not continuing are not because the quality of the minifigures, builds or actual game content were bad – sure, players had preferences and there was room for improvement – but Disney failed to make their toys-to-life offering work long term, and Skylanders seems to be suffering too. So a chunk of the issue seems to be common to this kind of gaming product, rather than specific to the LEGO version.
Inventory seems to be a sticking point for these releases – at a time when the games industry is focusing on digital, these product lines bring even more of the physical. A digital download of a game can be purchased by many gamers with no discs needing to be made, but when it comes to toys-to-life, physical packs have to be made for consumers to buy. Forecasting exactly how popular each pack will be seems to be challenging, as the stacks of Disney Infinity on clearance confirms.
One problem that is specific to LEGO Dimensions, however, is that to appeal to a broad audience, the game has comprised of an odd mix of characters and licences. Some of them are barely remembered, and fans of the properties are not necessarily going to be LEGO gamers – Mission Impossible, Knight Rider and Gremlins are not exactly super topical right now. As for The Simpsons and Adventure Time, although both popular animated TV shows, they probably appeal to very different audiences.
The other aspect that may have put off those already playing LEGO video games is the similarity to the regular releases. The levels offered the same kind of gameplay that is common to all LEGO video games, although with the added wrinkle of switching out physical characters and occasionally using the gamepad to solve puzzles. The most unique kind of gameplay was only introduced in year two, that being the Battle Arena multiplayer mode.
But the biggest issue for LEGO Dimensions was certainly the price of the game. 71171 Starter Pack was initially sold for £99.99, a huge barrier to entry – now it can be had for half that or less, but it is in that early period that the publisher needed fans snapping up the Starter Pack. After all, without it, no additional sales are going to come in.
The other packs were priced between £14.99 and £39.99, adding to that initial expense. These have been frequently on a three for two price promotion over the past year, but that still puts the price of a Fun Pack, the cheapest option, at £9.99. Looking at a LEGO Dimensions Fun Pack and a regular retail LEGO set, the latter looks an awful lot better value for a builder. As for gamers, LEGO Worlds – an absolutely mammoth game experience – was just released for £19.99, cheaper than a Level Pack, but with an awful lot more content.
The comparison to sets and video games is important, because LEGO Dimensions has been available alongside both. Essentially, the LEGO Group and TT Games were offering a product that they are selling competitor products to. Did LEGO building fans and LEGO video game fans have so much cash burning a hole in their wallet that they needed something else to turn to?
LEGO Dimensions will have had two years of content to its name when it winds down, which is not a bad run. The project certainly didn’t lack ambition and has a fan base who will be disappointed by the news – but with the high price point and many alternative ways of interacting with LEGO bricks and games, LEGO fans have plenty of alternative ways to enjoy their hobby.