It’s finally happened – LEGO has all but cancelled LEGO Vidiyo in it’s current iteration.
Late on Friday night (the best time to drop unfavourable announcements in the news cycle), The LEGO Group released this statement, following a rumour shared by Promobricks that the theme had been cancelled, and retailers were offered the option to cancel their orders.
LEGO Vidiyo Statement:
As you know, we launched LEGO VIDIYO in January to connect with children in a completely new way, blending music, digital play and LEGO building in a fun and unique way. The product tested extremely well during development and has received really positive feedback from those children and families who have played with it.
We’ve seen a positive response to the launch, but we’ve also received feedback from people that we could make the play experience across the app, BeatBits, music and minifigures even simpler. So, we’re taking that onboard and together with Universal Music Group are going to pilot some new ideas in 2022, then release new play experiences in 2023 and beyond.
LEGO VIDIYO is very much still available, the current products will continue to be sold in stores and marketed globally, and we’re continuing to support this fantastic play experience, including new updates and fun challenges to the app to inspire children’s creative music video making.
Thank you for your continued support of the LEGO brand, we hope for your understanding behind this decision.
I’ll take some credit here – here’s what I wrote just five days ago when I shared news that Big W and Amazon Australia had started clearing the newest wave of Vidiyo sets by steeply discounting all sets by 50%.
Australia was one of the earliest countries in the world to get the second wave of Vidiyo sets, and you don’t normally see entire new themes getting to 50% unless something catastrophic happens behind the scenes – and this really explains why Big W were so quick to clear their stock.
What does this mean?
Reading LEGO’s statements, they’ve pretty much acknowledged that theme has all but flopped – and has not been selling to LEGO’s expectations.
The theme isn’t going to be shelved, but distribution will likely be limited, especially in the United States where the new sets are due to be released on the 1st of August 2021.
Thankfully, this means that Bandmates Series 2 is going ahead as well – those have a release date of October 2021.
They’ll likely be readily available from LEGO.com and LEGO stores, but don’t expect them to occupy prominent shelf locations, or see much more advertising and promotions.
The App of course will still run, but the sooner they completely shut it down the better.
Why did Vidiyo flop?
This is probably the million dollar question, and I’ll be honest – I did want it to succeed, and I think the new minifigures, and moulds introduced.
I had mixed feelings about Bandmates Series 1, and I was pretty excited to give the Vidiyo app a spin when it was released.
Don’t even ask me why, but I also spent money on Vidiyo merch and apparel… which is a whole other poor decision that I have to live with, and I did pick up sets when they dropped to 50% off because at that price, they were pretty good value.
I’m now stuck with a bunch of Vidiyo x Anwar Carrots streetwear… which I guess will be a great memento of this tremendous flop of a theme.
Unfortunately, there were 2 main issues that plagued the Vidiyo launch from my opinion.
The first wave’s lack of construction sets
The product release strategy was all over the place, and after debuting the theme and their partnership with Universal Music with much fanfare – all we got were Bandmates, and a couple of Beatboxes.
It wasn’t only until the recent wave of sets that we got buildable stages, but by then, it was a little too late as Vidiyo didn’t really deliver a classic “building experience”.
This was entirely because LEGO wanted the play experience to be centered around the…
The broken, buggy and unoptimised app
The Vidiyo app was billed as the next big thing, a mix of augmented-reality meets TikTok, against the backdrop of some of the biggest Pop hits and artists in Universal Music’s catalogue.
I downloaded the app as soon as it was available, and outside of that one chicken video I made, it was a pretty terrible experience.
I have a Google Pixel 5, which at the time was only about 4 months old, and can be considered a “flagship phone”, and even I had troubles running it – with audio issues, crashes, and long slow load times.
There was also very minimal quality of life features, such as notifications (some days I forgot the app even existed, and there was no incentive to keep checking back), and for an app that made music videos, you could not easily download and share any Vidiyo clips you made on your own social channels – so outside of the very kid-friendly in-built sharing and discovery tools, it made it near-impossible to share anything you made.
Alas, while the app (and theme) was designed for kids, the user experience was just poor – it was convoluted and clunky, and my 4-year old (who is a whizz at other phone apps), could barely keep up, and did not appreciate the long-wait times and constant crashes.
Also, the fact that many phones struggled to even support the app, just makes this such an poor, poor experience and shuts out a lot of families who might not have the latest flagships, or would entrust their kids with cutting-edge mobile phone.
Just look at this example I recorded on my phone, of just how badly the app works. After using it for a day, it completely turned me off the app.
LEGO’s motto of “only the best is good enough” was clearly not a factor in this app, and to this day, I’m still shocked that countless layers of leaders within LEGO thought it would be okay to release it, and still, months into the launch, not fix so many of these issues.
Glancing at the reviews of the app on the App Store, or Google Play store tells you all you need to know.
What can save Vidiyo?
I don’t know to be honest. LEGO’s official statement mentions that they are going to pilot some new ideas in 2022, then release new play experiences in 2023 and beyond, which suggests that we’ll see Vidiyo being kept on life-support, until a whole new relaunch in 2023.
Fixing the app and going back to the drawing board with it is a must – maybe partnering and investing enough into an actual usable, and enjoyable app experience would help. There’s certainly promise with the augmented reality technology, which we first saw in Hidden Side, but it’s probably best if they start from scratch.
But speaking as parent… one of the reasons why I love LEGO, and feel it’s such a great toy for my daughter, is that it represents a break from devices.
Device addiction amongst kids (and us adults too!) is a real issue that I’m acutely aware of, and the last thing I want to do is increase my daughter’s screentime.
LEGO is a nice break away from screens, and I think the best thing that LEGO could do is to not lose sight of the brick, and ensure that building with LEGO bricks remains core to the experience.
Anyway, that’s my take on this disappointing saga. I did want Vidiyo to succeed, and for LEGO to finally break their digital experience curse, but thankfully, they decided to call time on Vidiyo to reset the strategy and theme, so hopefully they can really do their Universal Music partnership justice.
That said, I doubt a lot of people would care as Vidiyo didn’t have a lot of fans to begin with, and who knows, maybe this will free up LEGO’s resources to improve their other themes.
What do you think of LEGO Vidiyo’s anticlimactic hiatus? What do you think could salvage the theme?
Love minifigures? Be sure to check out the newly revealed LEGO Marvel Minifigures series!
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