LEGO: from duck to digital
For a company that’s been around for nearly a century, The LEGO Group has been through quite a few transitions. And now that everyone has a mobile phone and access to the internet, it’s an entirely new world – even for the toy giant as it dives head first into the mobile landscape with apps and games for all ages.
Despite being synonymous with the famous bricks, The LEGO Group’s journey started with a wooden duck, made by a carpenter in the early 1930s. That carpenter, Ole Kirk Kristiansen, went by the motto “only the best is good enough” when he first began to make everyday household objects. When sales declined due to the global financial crisis, Kristiansen shifted his focus to making wooden toys with the same focus on high-quality production. And so, the LEGO brand was born.
The name LEGO was originally created as an abbreviation of the Danish words “leg godt”, which translates as “play well”. What Kristiansen didn’t know then, was that in Latin the name means “put together” – an uncanny prediction about the future of the company.
When the famous bricks came into play about 25 years later, family member Godtfred Kirk Christiansen filed the patent for the modern LEGO brick in 1958. Visit LEGO House in Billund, Denmark today, and you can see some of the original moulds and wooden toys. You can also preserve the highlights of your visit with the companion app. Not only can you explore ahead of time what awaits you on your visit, but you also have a place to check your personal videos and pictures taken during your visit by linking your visitor number with the app.
In the 1990s, The LEGO Group faced new challenges. It posted its first ever loss and finding new ways to improve the LEGO experience became crucial. As a solution, it began to license characters outside of The LEGO Group. The mash-up of LEGO and Star Wars™ quickly became immensely popular and spilled into the digital realm, spawning a host of great games as a result.
LEGO® Star Wars™: TCS
These days, the App Store is a big part of LEGO’s journey. The LEGO® TV app is a LEGO-centric TV station, where you can watch films, check out builds and get the latest news from the world of the brick. On a bigger scale, The LEGO® Movie™ and its sequel have been huge successes on the big and small screens worldwide.
THE LEGO® MOVIE 2™ Movie Maker
LEGO® movies made by you!
With LEGO® Life, The Lego Group is stepping outside of its comfort zone with a platform for everything LEGO related. You can share your latest creations, make online avatars and see other LEGO fans’ creative projects.
“No social platform really provides a way to share pictures that are suitable for a younger audience,” explains Robert Lowe, Head of Kids Engagement. He continues: “A great part of social media is that you can be inspired by other people. We want LEGO Life to provide that experience to children in a safe environment.”
However, LEGO Life isn’t just about inspiration; it’s also about being practical and creating a library of your building instructions. Having started out with almost 100 digital building instructions, the app lets you, as the builder, choose where to begin and will even cheer you on when you complete parts of your build.
Staying relevant in a world of digital opportunities is a challenge that The LEGO Group embraces. With augmented reality (AR), the opportunity to combine both the physical and digital brick has arisen. This is what Murray Andrews, Digital Lead on LEGO® Hidden Side™, calls a digital-physical mixed reality experience. The goal is to deliver something new by mixing the two – though either will work without the other, of course.
LEGO Hidden Side is the latest idea to surface on the App Store and in LEGO retail stores. This is uncharted territory, as there has never been anything quite like this before and something Murray refers to as a “challenging, but a unique opportunity”.
In the game, you play as two video bloggers who become ghost hunters with the help of Professor J.B. and her app. This amazing tool she’s created lets the young heroes see and chase ghosts.
While Hidden Side can bring physical LEGO Hidden Side sets to life with ARKit, it also offers a complete gaming experience within the app – no sets needed. There is a twist though: you can only play as and collect the evil ghosts in the app. The physical sets are all about the good guys. And by combining these you get the best of both worlds – quite literally.
As Sean McEvoy, VP Digital Games says: “LEGO Hidden Side is the first of many innovative LEGO experiences to deliver mixed reality play on the App Store, and a new way to play.”
LEGO® HIDDEN SIDE™
Catch ghosts with LEGO in AR
It’s showing that the LEGO Group has looked long and hard at how to keep the core experience of the LEGO brick intact, while also embracing new ways of engaging a new generation of builders. And we can’t wait to see what’s next.