Reuters have revealed some of the first details on the LEGO Universe MMO, having talked to project director Mark William Hansen. From what we've managed to gather from this article and early discussion of the project at GDC, this could be the first children's MMO with mass appeal. Crucial to its success will be getting this bit right:
Most social online worlds have their own currency or monetary system, and Lego Universe will also require users to spend virtual money to buy virtual bricks. But rather than winning or beating an opponent, players build capital by spending time in the game.
"The more a child plays, they collect more coins and more bricks. The more you play, the more you get to build things," Hansen said.
If it can be a game purely of building and simply economics, it might just avoid the level-grind trap. What's most fascinating, however, is the news that there will be a fully fledged LEGO building system in the game, and that users will even be able to order their creations and have the actual plastic kit delivered to their door...