Additional reporting by Jordan Middler.
Lego is partnering with 2K for a new line of Lego sports games, VGC understands.
The publisher has signed a new multi-game partnership with Lego, people with knowledge of its plans told us, as the construction toy firm looks to broaden its games output beyond the expiration of its exclusivity deal with Warner Bros.’ TT Games.
2K’s Lego sports line will kick off with a football/soccer game developed by Sumo Digital, VGC understands.
This will be followed by an open-world Lego racing game currently in development at WWE 2K22 studio Visual Concepts, we were told. This is the same title mentioned in job listings last week as an “open world driving game with a major license”.
The football title should release later this year to coincide with the FIFA World Cup, followed by the racing game in 2023. A third Lego sports title is also in development, based on a major sports franchise, sources said.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – Gameplay Overview
WWE and NBA games publisher 2K is understood to be looking to expand its sports offering and sees targeting younger players as one way to do this. As one of the strongest brands among that audience, Lego is viewed as an ideal partner.
One person with knowledge of 2K’s plans suggested that the Lego sports games could include guest characters from some of the toy brand’s popular cross-over licences, such as Marvel, Harry Potter and DC.
Neither 2K nor Sumo Digital responded to requests for comment ahead of this story’s publication.
A spokesperson for Lego told VGC: “We do not comment on speculation about future products or partnerships.”
Sumo Digital is the UK-based studio behind Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Team Sonic Racing and Snake Pass.
Visual Concepts is mainly known for the NBA 2K series, which it has developed since its inception in 1999 with NBA 2K. It also took over development of the WWE 2K series in 2019, following publisher 2K’s decision to cut its ties with regular developer Yuke’s.
The 2K deal represents a new era for Lego games following a previous exclusivity deal with Warner’s TT Games. Since 2005, Lego’s console games based on licensed properties such as Star Wars, Marvel and Harry Potter, have virtually all been developed by the UK studio.
It also worked on original Lego games such as Lego City Undercover, Bionicle Heroes and the toys-to-life title Lego Dimensions, and had the ability to veto deals with other game developers proposing console titles, according to people with knowledge of its arrangement.
However, sources told VGC that Lego does not intend to extend the terms of its exclusivity deal with TT Games.
TT Games has held the exclusive licence for Lego games since 2005.
The developer has one unannounced Lego game planned beyond this year’s Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, we were told. Beyond that point, it’s not clear if the company will continue to work on Lego titles, but if it does it will not hold exclusive rights, the sources claimed.
TT Games’ Lego titles have enjoyed huge success over the years, selling millions of copies, garnering strong reviews and winning various awards. However, Lego is said to be looking to broaden its games output as the medium gains increased importance within the company.
Its decision not to extend its exclusivity agreement with Warner is thought to have been partly influenced by decreasing sales of its Lego titles, as younger audiences flock to social games such as Roblox and Fortnite, as well as uncertainty around Warner’s future in the games business.
Recent reports of alleged poor working conditions at TT Games are also said to have disappointed key figures at Lego, which like many Danish companies promotes a healthy work-life balance for its employees.
Lego also recently switched its movie deal from Warner to Universal, removing some synergy between the two companies, though it continues to license many of Warner’s properties including DC and Harry Potter.
Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.