lego-universe posts

END Games Entertainment revealed

Back in November, before Gazillion Entertainment sold off part of NetDevil's team members to the Lego Group, it was announced that Scott Brown, the founder and head of NetDevil, had departed the studio. Now Brown and other Netdevil members have resurfaced with a new game development studio, END Games Entertainment.

There's not much info on what the new team is working on but a post today on the company's blog site states that their first games will be of the free-to-play variety, saying, "We're going to invite our player communities into our experiences MUCH earlier in development than the industry would normally do." It looks like the team is " ... getting close to an early alpha release of our first title" so hopefully we will see what END has in store for us soon.

[Via Kotaku]

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.

Rumor: Mass layoffs at Lego Universe developer NetDevil?

Long time MMO game developer NetDevil may have suffered through mass layoffs this week. Eurogamer reports that Toby Cochran, an animator for the company's Lego Universe game that launched just last October, reports that he lost his position at NetDevil, adding, "From what we've been told a handful of artists will be kept on board and continue working on Lego Universe. But at the moment that will be a very, VERY small team." NetDevil's parent company, Gazillion Entertainment, has yet to confirm news of the layoffs.

Netdevil still has another MMO in the works, the long-in-development space-based game Jumpgate Evolution, which is now dealing with a lawsuit from its publisher, Codemasters, for alledgedly taking too long to complete. More recently Netdevil launched a closed beta for a browser-based action-RPG Fortune Online.

Gazillion Entertainment makes executive changes; renames a dev studio

The MMO game developer Gazillion Entertainment is making some changes and additions in its executive ranks and also renaming one of its development studios, according to a new press release today. The now formerly named Gargantuan Studios, which is currently making the Marvel Universe super hero MMO game, is now titled Secret Identity.

Gazillion also announced today that David Brevik, formerly the studio director for Secret Identity and the project lead for the Marvel Universe game, has been promoted to Gazillio's new President and COO. Jeff Linde, previously the Senior Development Director of Marvel Universe, has been named the new Studio Head for Secret Identity. Also the company announced it has named Dan Fiden to be its new VP of Publishing. Fiden previously worked as Manager of Playfish San Francisco. Gazillion said he "will be driving the company's focus on digital development and distribution" hinting that the developer is working on web-browser based games.

GameStop reveals Black Friday PC game deals

Not too many brick-and-mortar retailers have Black Friday sales for PC games but one of them happens to be GameStop. The ad for the retailer's Black Friday 2010 sales event has leaked ahead of November 26's big sales day. On that very you can buy World of Warcraft for just $4.99 and get a $5 gift card. Excluding taxed that means GameStop pays you one cent back when you get the game from them.

Other special sales deals include Lego Universe for $19.99, Supreme Commander 2 for $9.99. World of Warcraft Battlechest for $9.99 and Fallout New Vegas for $29.99.

Gazillion Entertainment gets $60 million in funding

One of the most extensive MMO game developers just got a new round of funding. Gazillion Entertainment announced today that it raised $60 million from a variety of investors. The press release announcing the funding hints that the money will be used to "enter a key phase of expansion for the company."

So far Gazillion has released just one game, Lego Universe, from its NetDevil studio. NetDevil is still working on its long-in-development space-based MMO Jumpgate Evolution and the company's web site says that there's another unannounced game in the works. Another studio, The Amazing Society, is working on the casual MMO Marvel Super Hero Squad that's due for release in early 2011. Yet another studio, Gargantuan, is working on the large scale Marvel Universe MMO. Finally there's Slipgate Ironworks, the studio headed up by John Romero, which has been working for years on a MMO game that has yet to be announced.

This Week In PC Games: October 25-31

Katie bar the door! The last week of October is a witness to a flood of new PC games, most of which are downloadable only titles. In addition to the games listed below, the first official DLC for Civilization V is scheduled for release via Steam later this week.

Star Wars The Force Unleashed II - LucasArts is releasing the PC port of their action game sequel at the same time as the console versions this time out. Darth Vader's apprentice Starkiller is now out of his master's control as he uses his augmented Force powers to do a lot of damage.

Lego Universe available to play for pre-orders via Lego retail outlets

Over two weeks before the game officially ships to stores, the long awaited family friendly MMO game Lego Universe is now available to play for a select group of gamers. These are the folks who pre-ordered the game via Lego-specific outlets such as the game's official web site, Lego stores and the Legoland amusement park.

Originally the plan was for those specific pre-orders to have access to the game's servers on October 12 but those plans have now been moved up by a few days. The NetDevil-developed game will be made available for everyone else when it ships to "regular" retail stores on October 26.

Lego Universe goes gold

The family-friendly themed MMO that's been years in the making is now technically ready to be released. The Lego Group announced that Lego Universe from developer NetDevil has "gone gold" meaning the game is now being replicated onto disks for placement in retail boxes. The game was first announced back in March 2007.

As we reported back in June, the game will have two launch dates. On October 12 Lego Universe will open up for people who pre-ordered the game via ia official Lego stores, the Lego web site and the Legoland theme park. On October 26, the game will be made available for everyone else as the Lego Universe title is released in other retail stores. In the meantime you can still sign up to be a beta tester for the game before it's official release.

Big Download's News Bits & Bytes - August 14-15

Wow. It's been such a busy weekend that we had to actually get a Bits & Bytes post up.

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