The Lego Group has elected to make the game's client a free download rather than a retail product, alongside this free tier. This may upset those who previously purchased the game for real, tangible currency, but think of it this way: You were basically just paying a premium to get a head start on picking up the best bricks. These freeloaders will have to settle for those sticky bricks, most of which have all manner of bric-a-brac lodged into their hollow undercarriages.
"The LEGO Group remains committed to success in the digital space and to LEGO Universe," said Jesper Vilstrup, Vice President, the LEGO Group. "We see LEGO Universe as a key element for our digital play division, and are adjusting the business model to make the game more accessible to players, without the immediate obligation to purchase or subscribe."
LEGO Universe will continue to generate revenue through paid memberships, and there are no plans for micro-transactions at this time. Players can try out the free-to-play zone for an unlimited period of time, and can pay $10 (USD) per month to become a LEGO Universe member and receive full game access. Those who sign up for extended memberships will continue to receive discount pricing.
The LEGO Universe free-to-play experience will offer a limited selection of game content, including two adventure zones and one player property area for building their own virtual LEGO models. Paying members will have access to all areas in the full game, along with membership benefits such as competitions and community events. In addition to the 15+ robust adventure zones and instances as well as 5+ property worlds currently in-game, access to new expansions, like major Ninjago content coming later this year, will require players to register for full membership.
Aside from simplified registration and game access for consumers, digital distribution will also enable LEGO Universe to expand more efficiently. The MMOG has new updates, features, challenges and rewards – more than any box could handle - planned for Q4 2011 and beyond!
Following official launch in October 2010, thousands of players have entered the vibrant virtual world of LEGO Universe. The development team has released numerous content updates, new gameplay features and enhancements, and the community has been bustling with events, contests, and incredible user-generated content from creative players across the globe. Now is the time for players to gear up for the free-to-play launch coming in August, and see just how far they can stretch their imaginations in LEGO Universe at www.LEGOuniverse.com.