LEGO are really hitting it big time this week with news, so here we go again just one day after my last rant. Yes, we’re talking about Hidden Side, an upcoming new product series with a special twist.
First the good part: From what I can make out on the rather blurry photos and the short teaser video on YouTube, the sets could be cool. I like the exaggerated, comically stylized models and with the demise of Elves, clearly there is room and a need for other lines to include crazy colored elements and get them out to the masses, the Yellowish Green claws of the Monster School being a good and easily detectable example. If done right and the models indeed hold up to certain quality standard I’m all for it.
The other part gives me a bit of an uneasy feeling. Yes, I can admit that I truly don’t care for the AR stuff to begin with for a million reasons, starting with the “rich kid problem” (as in the technical requirements to use the features necessitating a reasonably beefy, contemporary and thus expensive mobile device) to my more general dislike for a lot of this virtual nonsense not going anywhere and only costing people’s time and money, but that’s not the point here.
I’m much more concerned with the potential for exploiting this in the long run. Make no mistake – what LEGO are proposing here is ultimately some form of a mobile game and it doesn’t take much imagination to see the temptation of cashing in at every turn. From the usual micro-transactions to more LEGO-like approaches like selling minifigures and collectible cards with extra activation codes printed on this hits all the beats a bit too well for my taste. I’m not saying that they are actually going to do it, but these days I’m extremely wary to such things. Either that or the AR ends up being just a gimmick that kids get tired of quickly and then of course none of this would ever come into play.
Naturally, at this point we have very little to base an educated assessment of the situation on, so this could go either way. One can only hope for the best…