Eurogamer: The sad, slow death of Lego Dimensions

LordOfLore

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Toys-to-life franchise Lego Dimensions has drawn to a close, a year earlier than originally planned.

Publisher Warner Bros. is yet to officially confirm the cancellation, but the writing has been on the wall for some time - and sources close to the company have told Eurogamer the series is no more.

Eurogamer was first to report on Lego Dimensions' original three-year plan before the game launched back in October 2015. It was a blueprint which developer TT Games was able to stick with throughout the game's first year and well into its planning of the second. After that, however, it became clear the game wouldn't last as long as hoped.

Three years is a long time in video games, and over this period Dimensions' fellow toys-to-life competitors have faced similarly mixed fortunes. Disney Infinity was shut down altogether, its release schedule unceremoniously ditched with plans for figures and game expansions left half-finished. Skylanders, meanwhile, is officially taking a break from new game releases, with no word on when it may return - although its Netflix cartoon continues.

Dimensions' first year of releases included popular franchises as diverse as Doctor Who, Portal, Scooby-Doo and Lord of the Rings. Many packs sold out, and were frequently out of stock. But other themes such as Ninjago, The Lego Movie, and DC Comics were over-represented with figurine packs which offered little in-game incentive to buy them all.

Year One packs which didn't sell were eventually allowed to be discounted, and it is here problems arose. Every Dimensions add-on included a Lego figurine, vehicle or multiples thereof, and were sold with little room for profit in order to remain competitive. Any discount on a pack's recommended retail price effectively removed that margin completely. Whereas other toy-to-life series could rely on cheap manufacturing, Dimensions' appeal was it used actual Lego - and Lego is not a cheap toy, as any parent or collector will know.

Lego bricks are manufactured to a very high quality, and bricks made specifically for a single pack come at an increased premium. These pieces require individual manufacturing moulds to be made, and as a limited-run item cannot therefore be mass-produced, or stored for future use when no longer needed. Dimensions used many of these unique pieces in its sets. If a set did not sell, it affected the entire franchise's bottom line.

Dimensions' second year attempted to fix this by offering an even wider range of franchises with a smaller number of sets for each. Collectors who wanted to access all areas of the Dimensions game had a larger selection of themes to buy and explore, with a noticeable slant to packs themed around older franchises for the more adult crowd. Year Two included 1980s franchises such as ET, The A-Team, The Goonies, Gremlins, Beetlejuice and Knight Rider, paired up with crowd-pleasers such as Sonic, Harry Potter and Adventure Time.

TT Games also introduced three pricier Story Mode packs, which contained a box of Lego bricks to retheme your Dimensions portal pad and an expanded six-level mini-campaign for 2016's Ghostbusters, Fantastic Beasts and then this year's Lego Batman Movie. The thinking here was to add value to packs and create big expansions themed around the year's biggest pop culture films. On top of that, every Year Two release from story packs to individual figurine fun packs now offered a unique multiplayer arena to unlock - incentivising collectors on the hunt for everything, as each set now offered something unique in-game.

But sales at the start of Dimensions' second year did not meet expectations. The focus on Ghostbusters, which faced mixed fortunes at the box office, did not kickstart Dimensions' second year as hoped, while the wider picture of toys-to-life falling out of fashion appeared to be catching up with Lego as well.
There are no plans I have heard of to formally announce the end of Dimensions, especially as the franchise nears its last Christmas sales season. Eurogamer contacted Lego Dimensions publisher Warner Bros. for comment on this piece, and was told the publisher was continuing to "look at the future product slate".

But with the release of Dimensions' last update, TT Games studio manager Dave Dootson sent an email studio-wide to acknowledge the project's passing:

"Thanks so much to everyone for making Dimensions possible.

"As difficult as it has been, it is worth celebrating the incredible achievement it represents in the quality of the game, the amazing blend of IPs and the challenging technical demands it presented.

"It stands as a real testament to the talent within TT."
More at the link.
 

L~A

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The lack of Nintendo Switch version was proof enough the game was headed to the chopping block. Especially with the console getting all the other games, including LEGO Worlds.
 

MrGerbils

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I'd love to somehow be able to buy a digital version of this game that did away with the toys to life aspect and just had the extra content as regular DLC... or hell ideally a GOTY version with all the stuff packed in. Would gladly pay even $100 for that.

As is I don't have the space for more plastic junk cluttering up my place though. And all the individual addons seemed kinda small and piecemeal for the price.
 

Mr-Joker

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Really wanted to get Dimension but ultimately didn't as I remember the starter pack was way too expensive.
I think the price is what hurts the game as I wanted to buy the Sonic pack but I didn't see how it was valued £24.99 and not once has it ever dropped in price.

The toys are just pretty rotting on my local Sainsburys selves and the offer of buying one and get one free hasn't seemed to have helped much.
 
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Man toys to life seemed like it was gonna be something that was going to last longer than it did. It was big and then just sort of died out in a span of 4-5 years.
 

Sir_Stoo

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I'd love to somehow be able to buy a digital version of this game that did away with the toys to life aspect and just had the extra content as regular DLC... or hell ideally a GOTY version with all the stuff packed in. Would gladly pay even $100 for that.

As is I don't have the space for more plastic junk cluttering up my place though. And all the individual addons seemed kinda small and piecemeal for the price.
Yeah this was the issue I found. Even when you buy the extra packs like Gremlins, there is content in them you cannot access without other packs.

Locked content... behind locked content... behind locked content...

I loved the main campaign but by the end the toy switching stuff was a complete headache.

They should re-tool the entire thing to be played without the toys and re-release it digitally. I'd buy it standalone for sure - just to complete all the world's I missed out on.

(And an 80's movie minifigure collection...)
 

robot

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It always seemed that these were really expensive, very simple to build, and didn't offer much in game content. Always wanted to give the Sonic pack a shot.
 

Deft Beck

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Lego Dimensions and Disney Infinity are case studies where toys-to-life franchises clearly cannot rely entirely upon the strength of internal or external brands. I would also argue that the mechanical failings of these two franchises are why they fell so hard.

Skylanders sees yearly releases because they established an original franchise that is over five years old by now; kids recognize the characters and enjoy the established universe. There was also a predicable gameplay loop that was built upon with each iteration, adding new gimmicks and new twists on the beat-em-up gameplay.

Dimensions and Infinity tried to reinvent the game with each new level pack, contracting out external studios to add flavor to the game, but failed to communicate this very well and give a compelling case to buy them.
 

MrGerbils

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Yeah I really enjoy the Lego games and would love to play through some of these with my son. But even now with it being discontinued if you go on Amazon and grab the starter pack and just a few addons it can quickly add up to near $200. None of the stuff ever got price drops and I don't really trust buying it used in case there was a piece missing or something.

I think Lego is just totally the wrong brand to do this with, given how expensive even simple Lego sets are by themselves without fully licensed game content included.
 

PhoenixSFT

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My wife and I have generally enjoyed our time with Dimensions, though we did plan and buy only when there were discounts on characters needed to complete the game. I should tally up my total spent some day. The builds are pretty cool, and I'm glad we got a lot of characters and levels we wouldn't have normally been able to use, though the vehicles are absolutely unnecessary. They take up a ton of space and you barely use them in the game, even for challenges to get Gold Bricks.

We'll definitely hold on to them and probably incorporate them into Legos for our kids, but it's a shame it couldn't make it to year 3. I hope they release a final patch to fix up many of the constant bugs, but I'm not holding my breath.
 

Lunar15

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I remember the days of hot takes when these predatory toys to life practices were going to consume the industry.

Just another quick trend that kicked the bucket. And for what it's worth, I don't think many of them were bad games. The kids market seems underserved in console markets, and this was an interesting stop-gap. Hard to compete with mobile for attention, though.
 

Deft Beck

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I remember the days of hot takes when these predatory toys to life practices were going to consume the industry.

Just another quick trend that kicked the bucket. And for what it's worth, I don't think many of them were bad games. The kids market seems underserved in console markets, and this was an interesting stop-gap. Hard to compete with mobile for attention, though.
Doesn't Ubisoft have a new toys-to-life game that you can use with a mobile device? I remember seeing E3 footage of it.
 

Orca

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I've been wanting to jump on board the Dimensions train, but the starter pack is still $65 here...

It came out two years ago and the business model is predicated on getting me to buy many many content packs. That kind of on-boarding cost is ridiculously prohibitive.

When it hits bargain bins, I guess I'll finally be able to get the kids into it. Great business model, guys!
 

bigbaldwolf86

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Not surprising really when the cost of the packs was so high. £25 for a couple of characters, a vehicle and a level. No thanks
 

family_guy

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Am I wrong in thinking this could continue on if they just get rid of the physical toy requirement and make it all digital content you can download?
 

Deft Beck

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Am I wrong in thinking this could continue on if they just get rid of the physical toy requirement and make it all digital content you can download?
Disney Infinity 3.0 tried this on Steam to very mixed reviews.

It also didn't include absolutely everything.
 

AndyVirus

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Everything was way, way too expensive (thanks Lego) so it's no surprise people didn't buy add-ons. Level packs going for £25 is ridiculous.
 

Bog

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Everything was way, way too expensive (thanks Lego) so it's no surprise people didn't buy add-ons. Level packs going for £25 is ridiculous.
If you were the least bit savvy, these never cost you retail price.
 

MattAces

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Ubisoft with Starlink Battle for Atlas: "Uh oh, missed the train".

Problem with these toys-to-life games are how ridiculously expensive they are.
In the US, maybe the price is reasonable. Outside of US, namely Asia, the price is just insane. e.g. one amiibo = 7 meals.
 

GodofWine

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I bought this, and a LOT of add ons for my kids, 6 / 8, and they got tired of it, it really wasn't a great game at the heart of it, and it was obvious it was designed to make you buy more of them.

So many levels were poorly designed, and we'd get stuck and have to go to youtube to find out what obscure lever to jump on to move one.

Just not a lot of fun. They will still put in Lego Marvel to this day and just free roam the city, but I have a shelf of little lego people I think I'll just pack up and put away.
 

Veon

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Making certain set pieces platforms exclusive contributed a bit to the death of Toys to Life.
 
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This is a shame, but I felt the writing was on the wall since they didn't announce anything at E3 this year about a Year Three. As it is I have a majority of the packs (thank you Best Buy and Target sales), so I could easily finish the complete collection.

I wonder what the plan was for the 2017/2018 year. What other franchises they were planning on getting.
 

Azure Phoenix

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Everything was way, way too expensive (thanks Lego) so it's no surprise people didn't buy add-ons. Level packs going for £25 is ridiculous.
That really wasn't the problem, Skylanders got away with it for years and Lego is by far more popular and known for being pricier.

The problem is that Activision and Disney bled the market dry in the space of 4 years, Trap Team in particular with its newer light and dark element figures and traps that were borderline impossible to track down along with a general lack of availability for traps were the nails in the coffin for a lot of fans. Lego Dimensions launched after all that and managed to perform well on its own merits, but the damage to the TTL market was already done, especially with Superchargers bombing hard that year and Disney winding down Infinity at the same time.
 

Rodney McKay

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Loved getting some franchises in LEGO we wouldn't have gotten otherwise (like Portal), but once I finally bought the game I was a little underwhelmed.

I like the regular LEGO games, but this was literally the same those games, just with having to physically swap out the figures on the platform and having to physically pay in order to get through everything.

Some sections and bosses were annoying because you had to swap figures in the middle of action which is much less intuitive than just hitting a button like in the regular LEGO games.

If the platform hadn't been used in gameplay, I'd probably have enjoyed the game more.
 

Barrel Cannon

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Makes me wonder if the writing on the wall is there for Amiibos or if they are somehow impervious to this type of falling. The fact that they are supported in multiple games I guess makes them appeal more
 

Marcel

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Makes me wonder if the writing on the wall is there for Amiibos or if they are somehow impervious to this type of falling. The fact that they are supported in multiple games I guess makes them appeal more
Nintendo has some of the most valuable IP and characters in gaming so you do the math dude. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Mario is probably more popular than the A-Team van in Lego form.
 

panda-zebra

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My son loves the lego games. But Dimensions was just a chore. Constantly faffing around with the real lego stuff was simply not at all fun, whoever thought it would be was an out of touch idiot.

It all got assimilated into his huge vats of lego bricks as yet more over-priced little pieces of plastic and the game long forgotten.
 

Jacqli

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Not surprising really when the cost of the packs was so high. £25 for a couple of characters, a vehicle and a level. No thanks
I feel like they do not learn, they have the exact same problem with actual lego sets. I would buy tons of them if I did not feel ripped off every time I did.
 

Nightbird

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Makes me wonder if the writing on the wall is there for Amiibos or if they are somehow impervious to this type of falling. The fact that they are supported in multiple games I guess makes them appeal more
That and the fact that they are basically unlock keys for additional content, they are not essential to any game they are part of
 

El_Cinefilo

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That really wasn't the problem, Skylanders got away with it for years and Lego is by far more popular and known for being pricier.

The problem is that Activision and Disney bled the market dry in the space of 4 years, Trap Team in particular with its newer light and dark element figures and traps that were borderline impossible to track down along with a general lack of availability for traps were the nails in the coffin for a lot of fans. Lego Dimensions launched after all that and managed to perform well on its own merits, but the damage to the TTL market was already done, especially with Superchargers bombing hard that year and Disney winding down Infinity at the same time.
I think the price was a major factor. Especially in the UK where we didn't get all the big sales that America always seemed to get. 1 minifigure with two tiny builds and a ten minute story level (like back to the future) is not worth £25, and Who would pay £25 for the Jurassic world team pack (with no levels) when they could get the full Lego Jurassic world game for £10 less.
 

ghibli99

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Messing with the real Legos was charming at first, but became annoying over time. I didn't like all the small character and fun packs. I really was only interested in the level ones, of which there weren't all that many IIRC.

It's funny to me that the toys-to-life I despised the most at first (Amiibo) have become the ones that retain value to me, both as a collector of the ones I like, and their ability to be used across so many games to varying extents. Not being tied to solely one game/franchise helps.
 

Boy Wander

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Toys to life has had it's time. It was Immensely popular for a few years and pushed hard by brick and mortar stores in terms of floor space, but I'm guessing that it became apparent that despite new packs and reskins and characters being introduced, the core gameplay didn't change enough to stay fresh.
 

VexyWexy

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Amiibos will never die
and they are even more useless
Amiibo are high quality little statues of people's favorite characters. Who cares what "use" they have in game.

Similarly, most of the Disney Infinity characters I bought I did so because they are the best looking versions of those characters in that price range. Mediocre game be damned.

The problem with Lego Dimensions is you had to pay the Lego Tax plus whatever arbitrary value was given to the in-game content. So for Lego collectors the sets were grossly overpriced, and gamers just buying them for the content were getting fleeced for plastic they don't even care about.
 

kunonabi

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Amiibo are high quality little statues of people's favorite characters. Who cares what "use" they have in game.

Similarly, most of the Disney Infinity characters I bought I did so because they are the best looking versions of those characters in that price range. Mediocre game be damned.

The problem with Lego Dimensions is you had to pay the Lego Tax plus whatever arbitrary value was given to the in-game content. So for Lego collectors the sets were grossly overpriced, and gamers just buying them for the content were getting fleeced for plastic they don't even care about.
I care but all the whiners on the internet have relegated them to being mere content unlocks so its a moot point now.
 

mantis23

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I really enjoyed Dimensions. It seemed to go directly after the major weakness of Infinity which is that you could only use characters from a franchise in the story content from that same franchise. No mixing or matching as you see fit outside of the sandbox mode.

Dimensions embraced the mixing of the franchises and it mad for a very entertaining game. I dare say it was the best lego game released. The biggest downside, as others have mentioned was the constant use of the portal to physically move and change characters in order to solve puzzles in game. I never liked that mechanic in Dimensions.

I'm sad to see it go, I have a complete set for packs for the game so i've gotten my enjoyment out of it but I will miss the concept of mixing franchises like that. I hope they decide to make new lego games in the future, minus the TTL stuff, that continues to embrace this idea of smaller franchises coming together.

And also for the love of god, make some physical Lego sets for Portal already.
 

justsomeguy

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That's reminded me to dig out my copy and finish the packs I had. Manged to get in on an employee special offer thanks to a friend, so got it for an absolute steal.

Enjoyed it but definitely too expensive at rrp.
 

WestEgg

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Makes me wonder if the writing on the wall is there for Amiibos or if they are somehow impervious to this type of falling. The fact that they are supported in multiple games I guess makes them appeal more
I think Amiibo is a bit safer since it seems to be marketed and treated more as collectible figurines than as traditional Toys to Life products.