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Funcom open to acquisition, merger, etc.

Disappointing performance of Lego Minifigures Online has developer reviewing "strategic options"

Oslo-based MMO developer Funcom is reviewing its strategic options after the recent launch of Lego Minifigures Online fell short of expectations. The company on Friday announced that it is "actively seeking interested parties for discussions surrounding a possible investment, acquisition, merger, or any other available options."

Lego Minifigures Online was originally launched last year as a free-to-play PC game, but it didn't perform well with the intended audience and the game's developers felt the monetization model hurt the experience and made it less fun. So Funcom overhauled the game and re-released it in June as a pay-to-play multiplatform game. Unfortunately, the results weren't much better.

"The game is currently not meeting internal revenue forecasts," Funcom said several weeks after the re-launch. "This is mostly due to low sales on the PC platform. Sales on the iOS platform have performed better, mainly due to the featuring in the Apple Store during the launch week, but as the price point of the game on this platform is lower, these additional sales are not enough to compensate for the low sales on PC for the time being."

Complicating matters is the fact that Funcom has debt coming due in June 2016. The company has said it doesn't expect its revenues to be able to cover its obligations as well as its operational expenses, and has been in discussions with its principal creditor to work out a deal.

In addition to Lego Minifigures Online, Funcom also operates the free-to-play MMOs Age of Conan and Anarchy Online, as well as pay-to-play MMO The Secret World.

Latest comments (4)

Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 3 years ago
Funcom make a lot of really amazing games but somehow seem to make too little money out of them and/or have to relaunch. Are they spending too much on development or charging too little, or is it just the problem that every MMO they make has to compete from launch against WoW as-is? I know they've had a few titles that have run into complaints about lack of content, but the profit warnings seem to start well before players run into the "I've finished the game" issue.

Is it a lack of marketing? I never saw a single advert anywhere for TSW and the only plug for AoC I can recall was on The Big Bang Theory, but I remember an awful lot of reviews for Anarchy Online back in the day. (Admittedly, a lot of them said the game was empty, which was probably not helpful.) And it definitely seemed that the conversion rate from The Secret War was waaay under 20%...

Is it just their choice of titles? Did the original Conan movies put people off Age of Conan. Did The Secret World scare people off with the threat of forcing people to read and know stuff?

I just don't get what's going wrong for them and it breaks my heart. They have writers that I would GLADLY cut off a limb to work with, the visuals are gorgeous (OK, Anarchy Online needed a new graphics engine for a long time but to be fair, it did launch last century), I paid my 100 for the TSW Super Duper pack and wanted to say "Thank you for taking my money!" (Admittedly, I was more grumpy about it six weeks later when I finished the game)... Do they just not have enough (or good enough) non-creative business guys?

If there's any light you can shed on it, Mr Sinclair, I've been dying to know why Funcom have had this money issue for years. Currently, I'm thinking it's some kind of curse.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada3 years ago
Anarchy Online was a mess, and I never understood people trusting them after that. Me and a friend got discs that were literally coasters - they wouldn't work. Fortunately, we had archived a beta copy of the game, which launched just fine.... and without the patch players were promised was coming at launch. The game was broken and empty, and I really, -really- wanted to love it. The mission system was neat, graphics were awesome, the entire concept sang with promise.

AoC had a similar empty-content problem, and it was pretty far along the hardcore-spectrum, making it more niche. It tried to compete with WoW in it's heyday and failed to effectively do so. Didn't play it myself, but had a few friends try it for a bit. They got a few funny stories about horses out of it, but not much more.

Secret World, I'm not sure. Seemed to be reviewed ok from what I remember, but had a more niche appeal it seemed.

I too would be interested to know more, as I've always -wanted- to like Funcom, just couldn't trust them after AO.
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After WoW took off it had 3-4 years of fierce competition, 1-2 years of thrashing that competition, and every year since has been a mopping up exercise. I think after the blood was washed away it became obvious that it wasn't the that games being made were bad per se rather that the audience for MMO's was, after all, limited. If you want WoW's numbers you needed to cannibalise WoW's actual customers and that's a brutal business model: build an MMO and indirectly take Blizzard on in a fight to the death. Funcom are nothing if not dogged.
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios3 years ago
SteamSpy estimates about 1.2k sales for LEGO Minifigures Online after two weeks, which is painfully low. I guess they're suffering from having already burned all their launch excitement and established a pricing expectation on the free-to-play version :(
Relaunching F2P as premium is a real tough sell.
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