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LEGO games experiencing “absolutely no fatigue at all,” says Warner

Monday, 7th October 2013 08:15 GMT By Dave Cook

LEGO games are steam-rolling their way through the industry with increased pace these days. There were quite a lot of them released in the last two or three years, but Warner’s senior vice president of international games Olivier Wolff reckons there’s no fatigue over the brand, but rather, a growing appetite.

Speaking with GI.biz, Wolff laid Warner’s gaming cards on the table and discussed the company’s strategy, and reluctance to rush next-gen titles to next-gen consoles just for the sake of it. He then suggested that the LEGO brand continues to go from strength to strength.

“I think that it is a really interesting blend of IPs,” he began. “At the core of it you’ve got LEGO and the sustained success of LEGO as a family franchise in so many parts of the world year after year. We’ve played with it as kids, as parents now, so there is that element behind it.

“But in parallel to that you’ve got the fact that LEGO has brought into toys great IPs, and therefore we can express it in games, and with the encounter of great IPs expressed in toys, you’ve got the magic of TT which has a unique sense of humour. Without the humour of TT there wouldn’t be great LEGO games.

“What has been interesting is that we were always concerned about is there a ceiling to that? And the reality is that there’s absolutely no fatigue at all and there is actually a demand for different experiences. And that humour element that I mentioned, and also the innovation. Now you’ve got Chima Online which is a fantastic experience – and that’s really not competing at all with the console products but really bringing a different type of experience and reinforcing engagement with the franchise.”

He may have a point, because every time I publish the weekly UK charts Lego Batman 2 has remained in the top 15-40 every week pretty much since it launched. It’s impressive.

The next title is, of course, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, launching on almost every format under the sun from October 18 in the States, then November 15 across Europe. It’s also a launch title on PS4 and Xbox One.

What do you think of the LEGO brand? Is it flat-lining in your opinion?

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6 Comments

  1. DrDamn

    I’ve always quite liked the Lego games, and as collectathons go they do that part very well. I did think that what you ended up getting was a bit of a reskin with a lot of fan service based on the theme/content. That’s fair enough, and the way the formula is reapplied to different games demonstrates that they do this very well, but it was getting tired.

    What changed that for me was Lego City Undercover. The inclusion of a big open city to join up the regular levels is so incredibly well done. All the bits you unlock in those levels give you more and more to play with in the sand box. It’s fantastic and close to my GoTY – which was really surprising.

    The problem is that this must have cost a fair chunk more to develop than other Lego games, and I can’t see them being able to put this effort into all future releases. So that leave me looking at the new Marvel Lego game thinking … does it have an open world too? No. Then it’s not going to be as good for me.

    Looking forward and as fun as the Lego games are they’ve never really exploited the creation side of Lego the toy. They’ve adapted a lot of the features of Lego the toy well to the games, but they seem to be skirting around the core one. Make a game where I can build Lego things myself!

    #1 1 year ago
  2. TheWulf

    What the LEGO games get right is the same of some of my favourite games. What do Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, VVVVVV, Saints Row IV, and the LEGO games have in common?

    It’s all in the design. First of all, they’re unrestricted fun. There’s no reality weighing them down, there’s nothing saying they can’t do that, and there’s no fetishistic attachment to reality which acts as a detriment to fun and as a restraint. These games obey the Rule of Fun in its entirety.

    When you land in Uru, you can go to any of four Ages, you can explore and puzzle to your hearts content. You can experiment, you can poke things, and never does the game say ‘no, you can’t do that’ for any reason. You’re allowed to explore, and you’re allowed to fail because even if you do you can return safely to your relto at any time. So you have a safety net that allows you to risk your life in alien environments. That’s fun.

    VVVVVV has checkpoints in every room and infinite lives. Why? It doesn’t want to punish you for trying things. In fact, it encourages you, it wants to push you off the ledge so that you can enjoy the thrill with very few repercussions. The only repercussion is that you know something didn’t work — so you try something else, or you try it again, but better. Not being punished for experimentation is fun.

    Saints Row IV’s designed to incrementally increase your fun to exponential levels — it’s a toy box, and you’re given a toy to play with until you understand it. Though you’re never left bored, because when you start to comprehend the best way to use one toy, more are made available to you. There’s a great sense of variety, diversity, and novelty. These things are fun.

    And it’s the same with the LEGO games. They don’t punish you for trying things, really. You lose a little score but that’s it. And the challenge comes from getting a good score, which is something you can do at your leisure and you don’t have to do right away. And there’s so much gameplay variety that you don’t know what to do with yourself, there are so many hidden things and fun distractions. I remember that being a thing in LEGO Batman 2 — even the open world HUD was loaded with secrets. It was a veritable box of delights.

    And that’s how you design a game that has that kind of chemistry — you focus on novelty, variety, and fun. You engage the player with exploration and discovery rather than compelling them with some cheap trick or other. You allow them to play their way, and to experience things on their own terms. And you try to never tell them that they can’t try what they want to try.

    It’s a shame few games have figured this out. They’re weighted down with restrictions, restraints, and realities. I get enough of that in real life, I want my games to be engaging, clever, interesting, and fun.

    The LEGO games are pretty good at most of the qualities I look for in a game. They’re pure thrill.

    And I’ve been finding that I’ve been anticipating each new LEGO game more and more as time has gone on. I kind of figured my appetite for them would wane, eventually, but they keep shaking things up with new ideas and different approaches. So every time I think I’m about to be bored with a LEGO game, they do some crazy new thing.

    I wish more developers would do crazy new things rather than just mostly reiterating their last game, over and over.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. TheWulf

    @1

    That ‘no’ is a flawed assumption!

    LEGO Batman 2: DC Heroes had an open world (and had one before Undercover). This has an open world, too. I’ve actually seen it for myself in their presentation, which VG24/7 had an article about just a bit back.

    They’re valuing open worlds more and more.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. DrDamn

    @3
    Yeah – I’ve not played that one but was aware it had something of an open world. It’s probably what I’ll try next. How big was the world?

    Good point about the unadulterated fun too. Lego City Undercover was the game I’ve “blooded” by 5 year old on and he loves it. Just driving around the city or exploring, trying things. It never punishes, just does something which makes him laugh and lets him carry on.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. VibraniumSpork

    I’ve gotten ‘fatigued’ by some of the crappy porting between formats, particularly from console to handheld (shoddy FMV, janky controls…the dip in graphics I can cope with).

    Which has me worried about Lego Marvel Superheroes. Considering picking this up on PS4 but not sure they’ll be any differences/improvements *at all* compared to the PS3 version. Well, apart from the £15 hike in price…

    #5 1 year ago
  6. TheWulf

    @5

    They’ll probably have TT Fusion working on the ports, this time. They’re the guys who made Undercover, and also the Legend of Chima game for the 3DS. And whilst it may sound silly, the Legend of Chima game is actually really quite good.

    So they may do a better job, this time, since they have two studios working on things.

    #6 1 year ago

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