Last October, Lego launched a kid-friendly MMO (massively multiplayer online game) called Lego Minifigures Online. At the time it was free to play and only available on PC. As of this week, the game has been relaunched. Now it costs $29.99 on PC and Mac and is also available on mobile platforms for $5. The mobile version has less content than the PC version, but you can buy more mobile content piecemeal if you like.
You may think the increased price tag is a bad thing, but there is an upside. In the original version of the game, optional in-game purchases gave an advantage to players who were willing to pay the extra money. The new version of the game has dramatically cut back on in-game purchases, which has leveled the playing field.
In an interview with GameSpot, designer John Wiksen said that the new payment model has been a relief. “You feel kind of dirty when you’re creating a microtransactions-based game,” Wiksen said, “It’s way easier to create a good game now because we can just focus on creating a good gaming experience from the start.”
Lego Minifigures Online is designed to be an introduction to MMOs for kids. It blends Lego-style cartoony combat with puzzles, exploration, and (of course) building. Players control three Lego minifigures at any given time and can switch between them. These minifigures can be anything from pirates to wizards to ninjas to hot-dog/human hybrids. Each minifigure has two main abilities. This is far fewer than standard MMOs for teens and adults, but it helps to keep the whole thing simple and intuitive for beginners.