Now, we’ve received official word from parent company Gazillion, which explains the situation a little better. Basically, the company has decided to sell the rights to the LEGO Universe MMO directly to the game’s publishers, LEGO Group.
Following the sale, the “majority” of LEGO Universe development team members have been offered employment at LEGO Group. We still don’t have precise numbers, but we do hear that the company will continue to operate from the former NetDevil studios in Louisville, Colorado.
Jesper Vilstrup, Vice President at the LEGO Group explains:
“We’re excited about the launch of LEGO Universe, and are happy to have the developers officially join the LEGO team. This acquisition demonstrates our commitment both to the ongoing success of LEGO Universe and to an overall strategy to expand our brand online.”
This isn’t unexpected behaviour. Back in 2006, NetDevil signed up to a work-for-hire arrangement with LEGO System A/S, to build and develop LEGO Universe. Part of that arrangement included the eventual acquisition of rights to the game, plus the ability to transition team members to continue work on the game.
In 2008, Gazillion Entertainment bought NetDevil, and took on some responsibility for the project. They’ve also recently announced – earlier this month – that the development studio is working on a free-to-play browser MMO, Fortune Online.
David Brevik, Gazillion Entertainment President and COO explains:
“The transition of members of our team to the LEGO Group allows us to conclude the work-for-hire segment of NetDevil’s business and lets us expand our internally-published, free-to-play game businesses based on our own properties and licensed properties. Gazillion is wholly focused on developing, operating, and publishing the next generation of browser-delivered games.
“We’re proud of the LEGO Universe game that our team built, and we are certain that it has a bright future.”
…so, what now? Gazillion have confirmed that it will move its “other NetDevil projects” to a new location, as LEGO get to keep the current offices. There’s been no discussion of the troubled Jumpgate Evolution to date, which doesn’t sound terribly promising, either.
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