We All Had a Favorite Toy Growing Up
For many my age and those ages proceeding mine, the one name synonymous with creativity and mental growth just so happens to be Lego. The Lego company has always had a place in my heart during my formative years, every year for Christmas I would ask for sets like the underwater sets “The Stingrays”, the Space explorers set, and even a pirate ship or two. Almost every year, I’d get them, and spend the next day or so putting them together, allowing time for mixing set pieces together just for shits and giggles.
I’d be hard pressed to find a better toy to define my childhood better than Legos before video game consoles. That and the cassette playing robot from Tiger called 2XL. That robot was fantastic, can’t deny that.
However, with kids being born in the generation where technology reigns supreme, the idea that Legos would be the top pick for kids under the age of 8 seems to be fading. At least that’s how things seem to stack up, while companies in the gaming/digital industry might just be on the rise of catching the attention and hearts of kids around the world.
The Signs of Decline for Lego
Recently reported by Lego Chairman and former CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, The Lego company will be cutting 1,400 jobs by the end of 2017. 8% of their workforce being cut because of the 5% profit drop in their established markets (mostly Europe and America). Knudstrop stated it was a “one-off” move in order to switch things back to normal and focus on the small company they’ve been used to operating. While their Asia market seems to be flourishing lately, it hasn’t offset the loss back in the established markets.
Sure, every company has highs and lows in terms of sales, like Apple back in 2016 had the same percentage dip in profit because poor iPhone sales. Seems the removal of the headphone jack was a poor decision. Both these companies experienced at least a decade of ever increasing profit but suddenly dropped in the blink of the eye.
So why is this as a sign of Lego’s soon to be downward spiral? Why am I hating on Lego so much even though I have such fond memories of the building block giant?
Well it’s like reading the writing on the wall, or on the tablet screen rather. Kids under the age of 10 (sometimes even 19 and older) have rallied behind the open world builder Minecraft. Everything from building replica castles of their favorite video games, to just building homes or shelters to see what they can do or how much havoc they can cause. Even just watching Youtubers playing through their own Minecraft adventures is a pastime for kids these days.
Let that last one sink in… the current generation is complacent just watching other people play Minecraft. In the small group I could speak to while researching, a 5 year old was content just watching videos all day and as they get to use the game themselves, they can replicate everything they saw the Youtuber do. Their older sister (19) said she’d pick Minecraft over Lego, and she grew up with Lego! I even proposed the hypothetical situation if someone walked up and offered 6 sets of Legos or a fully paid for copy of Minecraft what would they pick and they still chose MC. Sure my survey was on a smaller scale and I wished I had more people to talk to but I’ve been limited in my time lately so I pulled what I could together.
I also polled those older than 20, closer to my age, and it was an obvious shoe in for Legos. I was not surprised by this, as my generation and the ones prior grew up long before computer games were as advanced as they are now, or even existed at all. The idea that those raised with toys like Lincoln Logs and Legos just didn’t seem the type to jump ship and hype over the video game equivalent. That’s a discussion for later on down the line though.
Minecraft: Developing The Future
As of 2017, developer of Minecraft Mojang reported selling 122 Million copies of the game, and at the price of $29.65 (at least for PCs) would total around $592,900,000 in total sales since it was released in 2009. That’s not factoring in the free editions for Windows 10 they’ve given out and the discounted price for the full game here and there, so the figure is probably a little bit lower but still that’s a hell of a lot of money in just 8 years.
The popularity of Minecraft is undeniable, hell I found out doing laundry the other day that my son owns a shirt for them and I’m not even sure he knows what MC is. Honestly the reach of the open world builder has gotten to a point that Lego might have reached back it’s release years. Yes Lego has years of sales and activity under their belt than Minecraft has now but that doesn’t mean they can’t be rivals in the market.
Minecraft has their own merch, as mentioned from my son’s shirt, but also the foam swords and pickaxes, the glowing blocks, and so much more. Factor in the merch, the 122 million copies sold, the speed at which videos about it go viral, Minecraft has the staying power to take over the top spot from Lego.
The coincidental timing between Mojang’s success and Lego’s recent, but minor, decline shows that this might be the perfect time for Lego to be knocked out of number 1.
What Could Be and What Once Was
From what I found out from this adventure into which builder was better was slightly surprising. Going in, I thought that the generation after mine was going to call for Minecraft as the clear winner and I wasn’t wrong, even some of those that were just outside my generations door were rooting for it. The real surprise came from my Twitter poll, which while writing this was still going on, I saw the majority of the votes went to Lego as the leader. Granted it was 5 out of 6 people but hey there are people out there who still feel Lego is on top and who can blame them when they’ve been number 1 for so long.
I personally love Legos, always have and I think I always will, which seems weird I’d be writing up a piece about how Legos might be going out of style but I like seeing things on both sides. Minecraft I can’t fully get my bearings on, I see some people crafting such amazing landscapes like castles and so on and yet the times I’ve sat down to play, I can hardly craft a house due to my perspective of it. Maybe if I can’t see the whole building while trying to construct it I just can’t wrap my head around it. Then again it’s been years since I’ve even picked up Minecraft, maybe I’m not remembering it properly. Also noted that I’ve been building houses in 7 Days To Die so my experience might differ if I picked up a copy now.
I honestly didn’t think anyone would be interested in reading about this, but after a few people convinced me and another helped me by voting for it out of a few other topics. Hopefully there is someone who finds my thoughts on the subject titillating to some extent, maybe enough to point out holes in my theory.
All in all, I am glad I took the time to look into this, was nice to get other people’s opinions on the subject for a change, rather than just Googling it and seeing what some guy in Boston said 4 years ago. I liked the fresh conversation, and it brought me out of my shell a little bit.
As with last my article, I’m still listening to and supporting my buddy’s music, Planet Revolver and it’s really getting me through the writers block so I want to give him a shout out.
Please do go give him a listen and maybe pick up the album.