Online multiplayer game LEGO Universe won't be coming out this year as planned, the LEGO Group told Kotaku this morning.
"Within the company we have made a strategic decision within LEGO to make a delay of LEGO Universe. It will not be coming out in 2009," said Mark Hansen, director of business development for the LEGO Group. "The reason is, we have a luxury right now, the business is going good. We have products launching that are not digital, the physical products, with them going so well we don't want to take focus away from them."
While Hansen couldn't say if the game would come out even in 2010, he was adamant that LEGO Group remains committed to the online multiplayer game being developed by NetDevil.
"This is something LEGO is very committed to," Hansen said. "We see it as a major growth."
It's likely that LEGO Group's annual earnings report next Monday might shed a bit more light on which project they don't want overshadowed by LEGO Universe. It's possible that more details about eventual timing for the game could be hinted at then as well.
The delay means that NetDevil will have more time to both work on the original concept and also potentially add new ideas to the game before it ships, Hansen said.
"There will be additions," he said. "But we are holding exactly to the plan we had when we started game development. (NetDevil might) create more content and alignment with the products we have on the shelf."
At least initially that won't include the LEGO bricks that use different IP like Batman, Star Wars and Indiana Jones, Hansen said. But that's not totally off the table. The hang-up would be getting the owners of those properties to sign off on the rights, he said. Something that's often a difficult proposition.
Hansen said that while the game has been delayed, development is progressing nicely. In fact LEGO Group released two new pieces of art to Kotaku that were created using 100 percent game assets.
One shows pirates the other shows a robot of sorts being attacked by people with swords and spears.
"We like the results very much," Hansen said. "The NetDevil relationship is very, very strong. The commitment to bring it out is as well."