Rather than pay out bonuses to developers, Lego Island studio Mindscape decided to fire everyone and fold.
The new behind-the-scenes details come from the newest episode of the Lego Bits N’ Bricks podcast. Eurogamer first picked up the story yesterday, which was told on the official Lego Group podcast by Lego Island senior producer Scott Anderson.
The podcast, which is currently releasing weekly to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Lego video game, released a new hour-long episode last week all about Lego Island.
Lego Island was developed exclusively for PC in 1997. It was a major success for the Lego Group, selling close to a million copies between 1997-1999 and placed seventh on the list of best selling games for the year.
According to Anderson, the developers were set up to receive significant bonuses after the successful release of the game. Unfortunately, the studio instead fired everyone rather than pay them the royalties they were owed. Anderson said:
“We have a terrific program in place for bonuses, for the team. And when the game came out, rather than pay off the, uh, the people who work on it, I mean, they sold like a lot of copies in the first day. And so they owed us royalties, they owed us a lot of bonuses and they decided that they would fold the company rather than pay us. So they fired the whole team, and then they folded the company.”
Despite the success of Lego Island, the Lego Group did not contract Mindscape for the game’s sequel, Lego Island 2: The Brickster’s Revenge. Lego Island’s director, Wes Jenkins, did eventually work with the Lego Group again on a pilot episode for a TV show based on Lego Island.
Future episodes of Bits N’ Bricks will feature other popular Lego video games. Including the popular Star Wars, Marvel, and Harry Potter Lego games developed by TT Games.
To this day, Lego Island is remembered among the best of the best Lego games. It was one of the first FPS games designed for kids and its characters, The Brickster and Pepper Roni, have appeared in many other Lego games.
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