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Lego Group buys out Lego Universe team; remaining NetDevil teams moving to new office [Update]

lego universe netdevil
Big Download just got off the phone with Gazillion Entertainment's PR head who gave us more info about what's happening with one of its MMO game studios, the Denver-based NetDevil. The rep told us that Lego Group, the owners of the Lego toy brand, are now taking over full development responsbilities for Lego Universe, the family friendly MMO that NetDevil developed for the toy company and launched in October 2010.

As a result of this move, Lego Group is buying both the Lego Universe development team and the NetDevil offices that the team currently works in (Financial terms were not disclosed). The other NetDevil employees will be moving to another office somewhere nearby the original offices. The remaining Netdevil team members will continue to develop the browser-based online action-RPG Fortune Online, which was just announced a few weeks ago and is now in closed beta testing. The Gazillion PR rep would not comment on the status of NetDevil's long-in-development space-based MMO Jumpgate Evolution which is currently involved in a lawsuit with Codemasters.

There are layoffs associated with this transition but at the time of this post the Gazillion PR rep did not have specific numbers available although he did state the numbers would be small. The PR rep also sent this quote from Gazillion president David Brevik:

"The transition of members of our team to the LEGO Group allows us to conclude the work-for-hire segment of NetDevil's business and lets us expand our internally-published, free-to-play game businesses based on our own properties and licensed properties. Gazillion is wholly focused on developing, operating, and publishing the next generation of browser-delivered games We're proud of the LEGO Universe game that our team built, and we are certain that it has a bright future."

Update: We have now been told by Gazillion's PR head that less than a quarter of Lego Universe's team members were let go as a result of this move. However he did not have specific numbers. He also told us that about 40 NetDevil team members are currently working on Fortune Online.

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