Lego MMO's Poor Performance Signals Tough Times for Funcom

Funcom "actively seeking" partners for a merger or acquisition.


Norwegian developer Funcom is facing tough times after its most recent game, the MMO Lego Minifigures Online, struggled to reach a wide enough audience and generate meaningful revenue.

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The company has announced that it has hired investment banking firm Sundal Collier to "undertake a broad review of the strategic options available to the company." These options range from a merger to a complete acquisition--"or any other available options," it said.

Funcom is "actively seeking interested parties" to discuss any of these options. No potential merger or acquisition partners have been announced, but Funcom said it will offer an update regarding its discussions "in due course."

At the end of July, Funcom announced that Lego Minifigures Online, which switched business models from free-to-play to pay-once in June, was "not meeting internal revenue forecasts." This was mostly attributed to "low sales" on PC, as the company noted the game's mobile version for iOS devices "performed better," in part because it was highly promoted on the App Store during launch week.

"But as the price point of the game on [iOS] is lower, these additional sales are not enough to compensate for the low sales on PC for the time being," Funcom said.

The iOS version of Lego Minifigures Online sells for $5, while the PC edition goes for $30.

Lego Minifigures Online may not be a lost cause, however, as Funcom said it is planning additional marketing activities around the game in an attempt to bring more attention to it. Part of this effort is the launch of a new physical Lego toy line in September. This, combined with the upcoming holiday sales season, could help increase revenue for Lego Minifigures Online.

If Lego Minifigures Online can't turn things around, it won't be the first Lego-themed MMO to go belly-up. In October 2010, NetDevil launched Lego Universe, but the game had a short life. It was shuttered just 13 months later. It managed to attract 2 million users, but failed to set up a satisfactory revenue model, developers said.

Funcom's other high-profile games include Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, The Secret World, and The Longest Journey.

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