Okay this is huge. The LEGO Group have just announced that they will be teaming up with Epic Games to build a place for kids to play in the metaverse.
The press release (full text appended below) is light on details, but signals that both LEGO and Epic Games (developers of the widely used Unreal Engine and wildly popular Fortnite) will collaborate and form a long-term partnership to shape the future of the metaverse.
Specifically, “will team up to build an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together”.
The announcement is very light on exact details, but a long-term partnership I think signals a few things:
- LEGO IP/skins in Fortnite
- Physical Fortnite-licensed sets
- A whole new online game being developed with LEGO IP
This is really interesting as Fortnite is the closest thing we have to Ready Player One, and has all sorts of partnerships, from Marvel, to Star Wars, to the NFL, to Lebron James and more, so this is real pedigree that LEGO are working with.
Check out the list of Fortnite collabs
LEGO are of course obsessed about staying relevant in a rapidly digitising world, and despite its absolute dominance in the toy industry, they don’t want to miss out on kids and teens who are spending more and more of their time, and building their identities online.
The metaverse, as defined by Oxford Dictionary is “a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.”
The Metaverse has been one of the biggest buzzwords of 2021, and 2022, and it’s no surprise that LEGO want to be part of it, in case the concept takes off, and we all move into some weird Ready Player One-type virtual reality, or plug ourselves into The Matrix.
I am… apprehensive, but at the same time highly optimistic of what’s to come. Epic Games are an absolute juggernaut, and as creators of Unreal Enginge, have serious pedigree in this space.
I’m a bit too old for Fortnite, but did spend most of my youth on Battle.net, World of Warcraft and in Counter-Strike, so I know the appeal of these virtual worlds, and how effective they are, not just as delivering an entertaining experience, but from the social side as well.
It’s just not something that appeals to me, as I prefer unplugging from tech after spending most of my waking hour on Microsoft Teams, and in Outlook. But as I get older, I realise that I’ll probably no longer be LEGO’s prime demographic.
Watch this space..
What do you think of this partnership and are you concerned with this direction LEGO is headed towards?
The LEGO Group and Epic Games team up to build a place for kids to play in the metaverse
BILLUND, DENMARK: The LEGO Group and Epic Games today announced they are entering a long-term partnership to shape the future of the metaverse to make it safe and fun for children and families. The two companies will team up to build an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together.
The family-friendly digital experience will give kids access to tools that will empower them to become confident creators and deliver amazing play opportunities in a safe and positive space.
Niels B Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group said: “Kids enjoy playing in physical and digital worlds and move seamlessly between the two. We believe there is huge potential for them to develop life-long skills such as creativity, collaboration and communication in both. We have a responsibility to make digital play safe, inspiring and beneficial for all, and just as we’ve protected children’s rights to safe physical play for generations, we are committed to doing the same for digital play. We look forward to working with Epic Games to shape this exciting and playful future.”
Tim Sweeney, CEO & Founder, Epic Games said: “The LEGO Group has captivated the imagination of children and adults through creative play for nearly a century, and we are excited to come together to build a space in the metaverse that’s fun, entertaining, and made for kids and families.”
As the Metaverse evolves, it is reshaping how people meet, play, work, learn and interact in a virtual, 3D world. The LEGO Group and Epic Games will combine their extensive experience to ensure that the next iteration of the internet is designed from the outset with the wellbeing of kids in mind.
Epic Games has expertise in building creative tools and immersive worlds that are open and accessible to players and developers everywhere. It is at the forefront of popular culture, creating experiences that connect people through gaming, music, creativity and social collaboration. Epic Games is also committed to enabling developers to create age-appropriate experiences online and in 2020 acquired SuperAwesome, a company which has pioneered technology designed to deliver safe digital engagement with children under 16.
For 90 years the LEGO Group has inspired generations of children through play and the endless creative possibilities of the LEGO brick, which remains the core of its business. The company is also a leader in defining safe digital play experiences for children including the development of an industry-standard Digital Child Safety Policy with UNICEF and the 2016 launch of LEGO Life, the first live moderated social app for children.
The LEGO Group and Epic Games have agreed to three principles which will ensure the digital spaces they develop deliver engaging play opportunities safely. They are:
- Protect children’s right to play by making safety and wellbeing a
- Safeguard children’s privacy by putting their best interests first.
- Empower children and adults with tools that give them control over their digital experience.