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Lego just launched a Minecraft competitor on Steam

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Apparently Minecraft-themed Lego sets weren't enough — today Lego has launched its very own Minecraft-like video game. Called Lego Worlds, the surprise game is available now through Steam "early access," essentially a paid beta program where you can purchase games still in development. (Also a business model that Minecraft famously pioneered.)

Just like Minecraft, the game features procedurally generated worlds where players can modify their surroundings to create whatever they like. Only this time, those worlds are made of Lego bricks. "Lego Worlds enables you to populate your worlds with many weird and wonderful characters, creatures, models, and driveable vehicles, and then play out your own unique adventures," the game's Steam page explains. Worlds features vehicles, buildings, and other content based on actual Lego playsets, as well as customizable minifig characters.

Lego worlds

Currently available only on Windows machines, the full-version of Worlds is expected to launch early next year, with a number of important additions. These include social aspects like online multiplayer and the ability to share your in-game creations with other players. "We want to ensure that we provide it with the utmost care and attention as we expand on our ideas," the developers say of the early access version.

Lego has had a mixed history with video games. While licensed action games like Lego Star Wars and Lego Harry Potter have proven popular, the company was forced to shut down its ambitious MMO Lego Universe after less than two years.

Still, that hasn't stopped the company from going after some of the biggest names in gaming. In addition to Minecraft, Lego is also taking on toy-based games like Skylanders with the upcoming Lego Dimensions, which is coming out in September. Both franchises have proven to be huge moneymakers: Skylanders has raked in more than $3 billion since its debut in 2011, while Minecraft has been downloaded more than 50 million times and its studio was purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

Polygon Video: Gameplay overview of Lego Worlds