We’ve seen some comments and questions about the Minecraft project on various AFOL forums, so here’s a bit of background on it and how we view the project and idea. We’re going to post here instead of commenting online on the several places where there is discussion, this way we can focus our time on working on the platform instead of getting into multiple dialogues. Some people don’t like Minecraft, others don’t see how it would make a good LEGO product, and some are wondering how something got 10,000 votes so quickly. We’ve also heard peoples’ desires that CUUSOO would promote well-built MOCs as the next models.
LEGO CUUSOO is a place for people to share their ideas for potential new LEGO products. In response to Minecraft, Paal put it this way in the press release; “This is what LEGO CUUSOO is all about, connecting people’s passion to the LEGO brick.” While most Minecraft fans aren’t AFOLs, they are really passionate about Minecraft and happen to like LEGO products. So, CUUSOO worked just as intended here – a group of passionate people saw the opportunity to connect their interest to LEGO bricks, and we’ve identified a community with critical mass where we could produce products they would enjoy and buy.
Now we are looking to see if we can develop LEGO models which the Minecraft community would want, and that has the design quality that is expected of a LEGO product. If we succeed, we meet someone’s passion with a LEGO product and identify a new LEGO consumer – some of whom will become regular purchasers and still some who might become future AFOLs.
But how would Minecraft be a good LEGO product? Isn’t it redundant, and aren’t the blocky play set images out there just low-fi Basic sets, and wouldn’t using cubes be really unstable? Well, yes. We see the low-fi images of Minecraft models as representative of the idea of Minecraft themed LEGO products, and we know blocky play sets won’t work as products. What we do see is demand for LEGO products that celebrate the Minecraft game.
Any product given the green light through CUUSOO goes through an extensive design process with our model designers. So, it will never be exactly what is submitted (neither Shinkai or Hayabusa were that way; Hayabusa went through two major revisions to get to the final, and we’ll have news on that in the coming weeks). We’ll share bits and pieces of that process as models are produced through CUUSOO. If you’re concerned with quality of an eventual set, the designers evaluating Minecraft have backgrounds with LEGO Architecture, Blacktron I, and Space Police I, so any potential product is in very capable hands. We’re also collaborating with the two original users who created the project.
How did this happen so fast, when good models are only getting handfuls of votes? The quick answer is the Minecraft community is large, new, focused, and passionate (2 million Facebook fans/16 million players). We were taken off guard with this, and did not expect this kind of a surge in traffic to our platform that is still in beta. We’re looking at it as an amazing opportunity, though, and taking what we have learned to improve things for the future.
Here’s what happened: Someone put up a Minecraft project. Mojang (Minecraft creators) found it and thought it was cool, and they linked to it on Facebook and Twitter. Immediately traffic spiked and even brought down the site a couple times. Along the way there was the issue of ownership; the original poster uploaded someone else’s image and the project got popular with that image posted. We investigated and all agreed the route of making it a collaboration was best. It was clear that the Minecraft idea would gain critical mass, and we would need a license anyway. So, Mojang agreed to step in and work collaboratively on it with the users, and the users just wanted to see Minecraft happen and were happy to work together.
But what about this awesome MOC that totally deserves to be a LEGO product? As an AFOL myself, I know it’s a dream to think of your creation as an official LEGO product. In this case, the Minecraft community lacks in building skill but makes up for it in focus and passion. Think not just about building quality, but about connecting to your audience’s passion. There are a few dozen really great models on CUUSOO, with votes in the high hundreds and even in the 1000-1500 range, so it’s not impossible. Also think about what makes a good LEGO product (not just a good MOC). The game is still wide open. This is only the third CUUSOO product, and the first one on the global platform. So, get at it! J
CUUSOO isn’t just about getting great MOCs produced, it’s about connecting passion for an interest with the LEGO brick. As a business case, it’s about finding new markets for the company that we would otherwise overlook, and supporting them with data before we produce a product. We see the Minecraft opportunity as a good one. Star Wars brought in many, many new LEGO consumers and fans and 12 years on it is still a strong theme. Harry Potter, the Direct exclusives and LEGO Architecture are doing the same. Minecraft will only be a fraction of Star Wars’ success, but it is an opportunity to connect with another passionate fan community, so it’s worth exploring.
We learned a lot about the platform and user behavior through the Minecraft experience. Some of it we already knew intuitively, other things were new lessons that can only come after being overwhelmed with traffic of this nature. The experience either proved some assumptions and disproved others. We’re actively developing improvements to the platform itself, the rules, and the mechanics.
Specifically, we’re very aware of the rampant plagiarism of AFOLs’ creations. It isn’t cool at all to have a site where users do this, and the upcoming changes will have more explicit rules and make it difficult for users to plagiarize in the future by allowing for user reporting and easier/quicker administration. We believe that stamping out plagiarism and raising the project submission age to 18+ will improve the quality of models on CUUSOO so users don’t have to wade through junk. We’re also working on improvements to the sign up process, the process of submitting your first Project, and making it easier to find things on the site. We’re grateful to all of you for your help with suggestions and flagging plagiarism. We hope to have the site improvements online soon.
Hope this has addressed some of the main questions about CUUSOO and the Minecraft project.
Tim Courtney, the LEGO CUUSOO team