A closer look at LEGO’s plan for a kid-friendly ‘metaverse’

Last week – and in light of the Epic x Lego partnership announcement – the nice people at Adweek asked me to comment asked me for some opinion on it all.

The Epic x Lego partnership (or ‘team up’ as they wonderfully call it) is one of the most interesting things to happen in the ‘metaverse’ space to date.

Why?

First, the announcement itself sets a clear agenda for Lego’s future in digital spaces. Second, it underlines Epic’s commitment to building safer online spaces for children to interact. This can only be a good thing.

If you look at online spaces worlds where children currently interact, you’re looking at Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite. Epic already has Fortnite but Epic does not have a Roblox or a Minecraft (aka: a platform that skews younger and for imaginations and builder to run wild).

So it’s a win/win.

Epic gets its own Roblox (and a phenomenal, globally-trusted kid-friendly brand to match), and Lego gets to start building something incredible with a respected partner that they know can live (and hold) to their brand values.

The deepening of the partnership with the further announcement that Epic have received $2 billion round of funding from existing investor Sony Group Corporation – as well as KIRKBI, the family-owned holding and investment company behind The LEGO Group, is a one two punch that very much cements Epic’s longer-term ambitions.

They mean business.

Which can only be a good thing for all of us. Because if you remove the marketing hype around the metaverse (and there’s a lot – so it might take a while) and look at this announcement for what it is, I believe we’re looking at the early beginnings of what could grow into a new persistent online gaming-led social space.

One that’s child-friendly, endorsed and built with digital Lego, powered by the powerful technology and talent at Epic, and almost certainly free to play.

It’s a way off, I’m sure. But if you take the even longer view on this, and look ahead to metaverse building companies being pulled in front of the DCMS, the European Commission, or even the US Senate. …who are legislators going to listen to when it comes to the safety of our children online? Mark Zuckerberg or Lego?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

An edited down version of this commentary was originally published on Adweek, April 11th, 2022.

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Author: James Whatley

Experienced advertising and communications strategist working in brand, games, and entertainment. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x