Epic and LEGO have formed a long-term partnership to “shape the future of virtual worlds” by building digital experiences for children to play safely. While the two companies’ announcements didn’t specify specifics, they set out three basic principles that drive the development of virtual worlds: prioritizing children’s well-being; protecting children’s privacy; and providing children and adults with the tools necessary to shape personal digital experiences.
Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games, said: “The LEGO Group has engaged children and adults with creative play for nearly a century, and we’re delighted to be working with LEGO to create virtual worlds that are fun, new and designed for kids and families. Design space.”
There are thousands of definitions of the metaverse by vendors, but it is generally considered the next transformation of the Internet: a virtual cyberspace that opens up new avenues for users and brands, services and online interactions. Sweeney has previously said that he envisions the Metaverse as an online playground, a public space where people interact with brands and other users, switching seamlessly between multiplayer games, streaming entertainment platforms and other digital experiences.
It’s unclear how the new program content or the LEGO brand will affect the Epic metaverse, and Epic Games declined to give further details.
With Epic’s Unreal Engine and extensive game development experience, the collaboration will enhance the potential of LEGO Sandbox mode to compete with popular creative game platforms such as Roblox and Be a God of Creation. Epic has achieved success with Stronghold Heroes, which generated more than $9 billion in revenue in 2018-2019.
The decision to partner with Lego was not part of Lego game studio TT Games, a decision that could be related to work environment issues identified in a Polygon report in January. Ex-employee alleges poor working conditions, says management has ambitious plans for the latest game “LEGO Star Wars: The Legend of Skywalker” to make games at the expense of employees working 80-100 hours a week, the question is whether to use Epic Unreal Engine. Polygon said employees warned management that continuing to make LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga using the studio’s proprietary engine, NTT, could strain the already scarce development time. Although employees supported the switch to Unreal Engine, management opted to use the NTT engine to save on royalties.