Lego and Fortnite maker Epic Games have today announced a “long-term partnership to shape the future of the metaverse” with a focus on building a safe space for young players.
“The family-friendly digital experience will give kids access to tools that will empower them to become confident creators and deliver amazing play opportunities in a safe and positive space,” the pair announced in a joint statement today.
Details are thin on the ground, but it feels like a major commitment for Lego’s digital future, and a huge win for Epic Games to be entrusted with the notoriously child-safe brand.
What will Epic’s Lego game be like? Immediately, echoes of live service sandbox Roblox spring to mind – and it’s here you can see why Lego is emphasising child safety so heavily in its announcement.
Roblox is hugely successful among young people, but has also been dogged by criticisms of its child safety features, how it polices unsuitable content, and how it compensates content creators.
“For 90 years the Lego Group has inspired generations of children through play through the endless creative possibilities of the Lego brick, which remains the core of its business,” today’s press release reads.
“The company is a leader in defining safe digital play experiences for children including the development of an industry-standard Digital Child Safety Policy with UNICEF and the 2016 launch of the first fully live moderated social app for children.”
Work on the project still seems early, and today Lego and Epic Games have simply announced an agreement on three principles which will guide its construction:
- 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.
Lego’s video game offering has been dominated by TT Games-developed licensed releases over the years – such as this week’s just-released Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – but it has also licensed its brand to others for dabbling in different, sandbox-style games in the past, such as Lego Minifigures Online and Lego Universe.
There’s no suggestion at all that Lego content will be integrated into Fortnite, Epic’s main hub of franchise crossovers.
“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,” Epic boss Tim Sweeney said today.
“Kids enjoy playing in digital and physical worlds and move seamlessly between the two,” added Lego boss Niels B Christiansen. “We believe there is huge potential for them to develop life-long skills such as creativity, collaboration and communication through digital experiences. But we have a responsibility to make them safe, inspiring and beneficial for all. 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.”