LEGO Dimensions begins its second year of content on Sept. 27, and the list of new content adds to the already exhaustive offerings from the game’s first year.
New IPs joining the fray include the much anticipated Harry Potter addition, the whimsical Adventure Time and the nostalgia-inducing Gremlins.
But as gamers gear up for another year of investment, there is a noticeable void in the toy-to-life market.
Back in May of this year, Disney Interactive announced the death of Disney Infinity and the closing of Avalanche Software.
Disney had kept a tight leash on its Star Wars and Marvel properties, tying them to Disney Infinity exclusively. And with this closing of Disney Infinity, Disney also announced their retirement from first-party game production entirely. While this doesn’t necessarily mean Disney’s IPs are up for grabs, it does open doors for new collaborations.
The inclusion of Star Wars and Marvel characters in LEGO Dimensions has been a point of contention since before the game was actually released.
Traveller’s Tales (TT), developer of Dimensions, has years of experience working with both IPs, having debuted as a developer with the original LEGO Star Wars way back in 2005 and going on to develop the critically acclaimed LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
But does this necessarily mean that LEGO Dimensions is ready for the inclusion of arguably the two biggest pop-culture franchises? Does it even it even need them?
LEGO Dimensions has made a name for itself as a pop-culture mishmash, a veritable culture clash where characters from The Simpsons can battle alongside DC Comics heroes and villains; or GlaDos can antagonize Gandalf while the Ghostbusters watch from the sidelines.
It’s a wonderful mess of a game that has aged surprisingly well over the last year, adding various, new story packs to bring in characters from Doctor Who and playing with gamers’ nostalgia by incorporating Midway Arcade Treasures and Back to the Future.
With all of these characters and many more joining the party over the next year, it doesn’t really seem necessary, or even desirable, to add Star Wars or Marvel any time soon.
The problem with both of those franchises is that they have a tendency to dominate the room. We might not have ever seen Gremlins or The Goonies make their way into the game if the focus was on those heavy hitters.
As Adventure Time and Sonic the Hedgehog prepare for their debut, I can’t help but wonder if those connections would have even been pursued if Disney had come in clutch with their own juggernauts in tow.
We’ve seen the benefits of licensing limitation in other media, most notably in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The success and very existence of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is often attributed to Marvel Studios’ inability to use characters like the X-Men or (at that time) Spider-Man. Similarly, the resurgence of Inhumans has also been linked to Fox’s exclusive hold on the X-Men franchise.
This is not to say that Star Wars and Marvel couldn’t eventually join LEGO Dimensions. Given TT Games’ sterling reputation with those IPs, I would be extremely excited for something like that to happen.
But, for now, let’s let LEGO Dimensions grow and establish itself as something wholly unique in the video-game market. There are dozens of other properties the game could explore moving forward (I’m looking at you, Looney Tunes), and I’m sure there are a few dozen more no one has even thought of yet.
And as excited as I am to see Batman and Iron Man fighting side by side, I’m slightly more intrigued by the potential team capability of Voldemort and Mr. T.