You could see this coming. Minecraft’s build-your-own world became so big that Microsoft bought it for $2.5 billion. And now Warner Bros. is coming in with its own rival, Lego Worlds, which debuts today on the Steam digital game store’s Early Access for PCs.
The sandbox-style game is a virtual world where you can create anything, including messing around with the actual landscape. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s TT Games studio, in collaboration with the Lego Group, is in charge of development. It’s currently a single-player game.
All of the building blocks from Lego games are included, including customizable characters. Over time, the developers are planning on adding multiplayer play and procedurally generated underground cave networks.
Steam’s Early Access is a program in which game publishers and developers can sell their games while still in beta states, taking in feedback from players as they work on preparing their products from release. It’s been a boon for indie developers and small studios, who not only benefit from legions of what are essentially beta testers but also money from sales to help fund further development.
While the aim of Minecraft is surviving attacking creatures, the goal of Lego Worlds is more about creativity. You get to build worlds entirely from Lego bricks, and you can also use Lego building sets digitally so you can craft something virtual that is far more impressive than a physical version of the toys.
Lego tried once before to build Lego Universe, a massively multiplayer online game. Made by NetDevil, it launched in 2010, but it couldn’t get a big enough audience to justify the costs. That game shut down in 2012. Since that time, TT Games’ works have grown insanely popular, giving Lego a reason to trust the studio with another online project.
Tom Stone, the managing director of TT Games, said that Lego Worlds embodies the physical brick-building fun that consumers have enjoyed for decades, only in digital form. He said it includes a brick-by-brick editor with endless possibilities.