Despite no official announcement LEGO Dimensions seems certain to be over after two years, rather than running for the originally intended three years.
Eurogamer has spoken to sources at TT Games who have revealed that LEGO Dimensions is definitely over, as rumoured back in March. Although Warner Bros. would not comment on the closing of LEGO Dimensions for the piece, a leaked memo confirms the news for anyone still in doubt.
But with the release of Dimensions’ last update, TT Games studio manager Dave Dootson sent an email studio-wide to acknowledge the project’s passing:
“Thanks so much to everyone for making Dimensions possible.
“As difficult as it has been, it is worth celebrating the incredible achievement it represents in the quality of the game, the amazing blend of IPs and the challenging technical demands it presented.
“It stands as a real testament to the talent within TT.”
The article lists a number of the reasons for the early ending and problems that LEGO Dimensions had during its two year run, including the general decline of the toys-to-life market, the high cost of production and the amount of labour that developing the content required.
Three years is a long time in video games, and over this period Dimensions’ fellow toys-to-life competitors have faced similarly mixed fortunes. Disney Infinity was shut down altogether, its release schedule unceremoniously ditched with plans for figures and game expansions left half-finished. Skylanders, meanwhile, is officially taking a break from new game releases, with no word on when it may return – although its Netflix cartoon continues.
Multiple packs for single franchises is cited as one of the early problems for the game, particularly as each Fun Pack only provided a new character, with each franchise pack providing access to the same zones.
Dimensions’ first year of releases included popular franchises as diverse as Doctor Who, Portal, Scooby-Doo and Lord of the Rings. Many packs sold out, and were frequently out of stock. But other themes such as Ninjago, The Lego Movie, and DC Comics were over-represented with figurine packs which offered little in-game incentive to buy them all.
Year two sales did not pick up, despite an attempt at course correction.
But sales at the start of Dimensions’ second year did not meet expectations. The focus on Ghostbusters, which faced mixed fortunes at the box office, did not kickstart Dimensions’ second year as hoped, while the wider picture of toys-to-life falling out of fashion appeared to be catching up with Lego as well.
The amount of work that was going into LEGO Dimensions seems to be a big factor in the game’s downfall.
Work on Dimensions’ final sets concluded long after the decision was made to wind down the franchise.
Meanwhile, within TT Games, the developer was dealing with an ever-increasing workload. Year 2 had an astonishing amount of content planned and publicly committed to – and which needed to launch for all five of the game’s different console platforms simultaneously. More than 60 packs launched for Dimensions across the game’s two years of life, spread across 10 waves. TT Games had to submit content for approval to Microsoft for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Sony for PlayStation 3 and PS4, and Nintendo for the Wii U on a never-ending basis, as each pack released and underwent furious bug-testing. And yet glitches still, somewhat unsurprisingly, slipped through, aggravating the game’s core user base.
Tantalisingly, the article shares some information about what would have been included in the final year.
Year Three, we’ve heard, would have featured a return to Lego Dimensions’ original universe-crossing storyline starring fan-favourite villain Lord Vortech (voiced by Gary Oldman) and TT Games previously hinted to Eurogamer that Vortech was being planned as a special figure release. We’ve heard Vortech’s pack was originally planned to be the last of Year 3, to wrap up the whole series and perhaps unlock access to all of the game’s worlds. Later, after Year Three was off the table, plans shifted and Vortech was considered as a finale pack to wrap up the franchise after Year Two, before being dropped altogether.
The latter half of Year Two in particular would have looked a little different, with plans shifting around the release of franchises such as Teen Titans Go! and The Powerpuff Girls. These eventually arrived later than originally slated, and their packs changed in scope.
Other plans discussed for Year Three would have included a Lego Minecraft expansion, along with more characters for existing franchises – such as a Missy-themed follow-up to Year One’s popular Doctor Who pack, and the Flash added as another DC Comics character.
Most frustratingly of all, the piece of technology that would have genuinely separated LEGO Dimensions from the other toys-to-life games was never released:
Even more ambitious work was also once underway within TT Games on a camera which would be able to scan small Lego builds and replicate them within the game. We’re told this tech would have allowed you to build anything in a five-by-five block size and have it recognised, then reproduced on-screen. A version of this gadget was up and running, although was never greenlit for production.