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April 8, 2022
Toy brick firm Lego and games publisher Epic Games have announced that together they intend to build some sort of metaverse aimed at children.
The two firms will have you know they’ve entered into a long-term partnership and intend to build ‘an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together’. They don’t appear to have anything to show off just yet mind, instead they seem to just be publicly laying down some ground rules.
There’s some throat clearing in the announcement regarding the two firm’s respective expertise and how it makes them perfect to make a kids focussed metaverse something-or-other. Epic Games ‘has expertise in building creative tools and immersive worlds that are open and accessible to players and developers everywhere’ we are told – presumably referring to its back catalogue of games such as Fortnite and Rocket League as well as its proprietary Unreal Engine.
Far from just a factory churning out coloured bricks for 90 years, Lego is apparently a leader in ‘defining safe digital play experiences for children’ and has worked on developing an industry-standard Digital Child Safety Policy with UNICEF and produced Lego Life in 2016, a ‘live moderated’ social app for children.
Execs from both firms have put their heads together and developed three principles which will ensure anything they come out with will ‘deliver engaging play opportunities safely.’ They are:
Protect children’s right to play by making safety and wellbeing a priority.
Safeguard children’s privacy by putting their best interests first.
Empower children and adults with tools that give them control over their digital experience.
“Kids enjoy playing in physical and digital worlds and move seamlessly between the two,” said Niels B Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group. “We believe there is huge potential for them to develop life-long skills such as creativity, collaboration and communication in both. We have a responsibility to make digital play safe, inspiring and beneficial for all, and just as we’ve protected children’s rights to safe physical play for generations, we are committed to doing the same for digital play. We look forward to working with Epic Games to shape this exciting and playful future.”
Tim Sweeney, CEO & Founder of Epic Games added: “The Lego Group has captivated the imagination of children and adults through creative play for nearly a century, and we are excited to come together to build a space in the metaverse that’s fun, entertaining, and made for kids and families.”
With Epic Games’ experience in creating and publishing hugely successful games (which to some is all the metaverse is anyway) as well as the Unreal Engine, and with Lego’s world-beating brand awareness and history of licensing absolutely anything into brick form – on paper it’s a pretty good team up if you’re going to try and build a metaverse for kids.
That said, this doesn’t appear to be a launch of anything so much of a joint statement of intent and an articulation of some shared values that would pertain to a metaverse designed for children. You’d think they’d wait until there was something to market before launching into a chorus about how safe it will be and how qualified they both are to build it, but it wouldn’t be a metaverse announcement if it was substantial would it?
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