Disney, Virtual Worlds, and flooding your own house

Disney is creating up to 10 different virtual worlds at a cost ranging between $5 and $10 million a piece according to the New York Times. The article is an otherwise solid round up of existing children’s worlds and plans, includingotherwise solid round up of existing children’s worlds and plans, including Nickelodeon’s plans to invest $100 million to create virtual worlds and casual games. In a recent keynote, Disney’s Bob Iger pointed out that the upcoming Cars virtual world would cost millions, not hundreds of millions to develop, because it is built on an existing infrastructure.

Virtual Worlds News: Disney Investing up to $100MM in New Worlds

Click that link for more.

Does anyone ELSE think Disney is flooding their own market????

That Darn NYT article (previous linked to be me, so I’m my own fodder) has been passed around like the hot potato (re: me, blog, fodder). And I was chatting with Joi Podgorny today over Skype… and I kept getting high blood pressure because NYT has put a bigger eye of mordor on the youth VW market.

Those of us IN the VW market are well aware of the hurricane of insanity heading our ways– filled to the brim with “me too’s”, “good ideas, bad executions”, “bad ideas, great press”, and “really well thought out game/world experiences”.

The tidal wave of community brought about two years ago (refreshed, that is, thank you late 90’s) has twisted and turned from forum/blogs to UGC profiles to interactive experiences to roaming worlds to worlds & casual gaming and now (if Disney is power house flag ship of the future) MMORPG to help people LIVE the content endlessly online. From there the World + Real Life experience will uniquely become blurred (can you image more than now?) and the tidal wave will lessen & calm a bit… waiting for phones & technology to catch up… then the whole darn thing will explode again as the web-experience is readily accessible EVERYWHERE, at EACH of your fingertip’s touch (silly to just have it ready for the pointer finger, why must the pointer finger always get the attention?).

The props to this = webkinz will have to battle for their king-o-the-heap. Fads are all the rage, doncha know? Someone will come along and out-webkinz webkinz, and it won’t be too hard if they do it right (lol). Shining Stars, for example, pales in comparison to Webkinz in online experience… but their products are MUCH cuter (in my opinion). My Shining Stars cow TOTALLY wins the stuffy crown from the Black Webkinz cat. The poor Zibbie penguin with the Rastafarian’s rubber dreads sits like the Ms. Personality of the crew. But what webkinz doesn’t do well– the organization of their web offerings. It feels a bit crowded & stuffed & tucked away, like a pretty cabinet with tons of drawers.  Kids eventually get used to the system & ignore the organization because it ultimately gets them where they want to be– the games & world atmosphere. But the voice of the site & the set up are definitely things that some “me too” company can swoop in and improve hard core… and then the battle will be on.

As for Disney? They are only moving upward from here– in terms of individual design & content experience. For years now, Disney has been dedicated to continuing its stories: from DVD 2, 3, and 4 to theme parks, ice shows, and dolls & tech. With MMORPG Worlds like Pirates & Pixie Hallow & their future car world, each is going to out “do” the other. < From realistic fluttering of wings to looking like a CAR in the movie… it’s going to be a inner competition for aesthetic glory through innovation & living the experience.

Kudos to them for being clear about their intentions for their audience & the quality they will grow with their web products.

But… when will it become a battle? Pretty darn soon. 10 virtual worlds planned? That’s 10 possible subscriptions & 10 worlds for Disney-ites to be torn for… Pixie Hallow or Tortuga or the Raceway? Maybe Toy Story’s closet? DEAR LORD, WHERE DO I SPEND MY COMPUTER TIME? Who will I spend my allowance on for a subscription?

Or… will Disney come out with a all-in-one pac? Like a Park Hopper… but called a Virtual World hopper– subscriptions to all with little hassle?

But hey… not a bad predicament for Disney. Rather have them IN Disney World… battling between a day at Epcot or Animal Kingdom… then say, driving over to Universal, right? Right. Oh, choices. Choices in choices. Fun.

As long as Disney raises the bar for awesomeness? I’m content. Deja vu? I think I’ve said that before.

The reason I stuck Nickelodeon’s blurb in the borrowed passage at the top o the post is roughly because: I forgot about Nickelodeon’s “100 million” pledge. It’s been quiet on the Nick front. Where are the rumors of VW awesomeness from Nick? Cartoon Network has leaked enough for peeps like me to feel comforted with their innovation & promise for this new year. All I know now is: Nicktropolis got a bit icky-er with their Wii & Mario Galaxy ads… more roaming, TONS of ads, and less awesomeness. Meh. Granted they threw in some “treasure hunt” behavior, but not enough fanfair for me to care.

There seems to be more support and push behind preggers Ms. Spears and her “Will it go on? Yes it will!” Zoey 101TV program (especially with the UBER-commercials this weekend regarding the Zoey101 Movie “Goodbye Zoey”).

Maybe this is a sign that Nick has pulled back an extra thick red curtain, and will come out of left field to knock our socks off once they’re through with their stealth-mode-VW-creations. Oh, fingers crossed!!! Strategy, I hear, can be a great thing.

So… bring on the onslaught of VW’s, world. I’ve been ready for them (and helping to build another one of our own). There’s a new frontier. Room for plenty? Yes. Let the strong eat the weak, and the unique take the crown.

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  1. January 2, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    “Let the strong eat the weak and the unique take the crown…” —what wonderful thoughts, Izzy, and I’d add, ‘and let the content be positive and meaningful beyond dressing up avatars in hoochykoo bling and talkin’ trash. (at least I can count on Disney for that one…Their Disney radio rep tells me they’re keeping their ad/event alliances so squeaky clean they won’t accept ‘fast food’ like Quiznos, so I’m going to investigate further to see what their ‘wholesome meter’ benchmark is…

    As for the VW “Park Hopper” concept, I imagine you’re hitting pretty dang close to the mark there w/cross-promotional linkage if precedent’s any indication. Did you ever see MEF’s film “Mickey Mouse Monopoly?” Fascinating.

    We must chat soon…btw, for the ’08 VW summit, we chose the title “beyond coinage & consumption” for our panelist presentation pitch to discuss the need for meaningful user experiences beyond the bells & whistles. Joi and Barry said they’d be game, too, so it looks like a solid crew if it all gels.

    ttys. (I promise) sigh…My bday is Fri., so w/my ‘self-care’ resolution, I’m trying not to jump into 2008 w/full features flooding my backlog…In fact, later today I’ll post some of my favorite media items that I’m not finished reading/viewing much less testing/featuring just yet, but I want folks to have the links in the interim. Stay tuned…(and congrats on buying your own domain name to be your own brand; smart!)

  2. January 3, 2008 at 3:56 am

    It’s interesting to see that Club Penguin continues to gain momentum and maintain their profitability while Webkinz is getting hammered with outages [notably due to all their holidays sales – I for one bought 8 for my kidz 🙂 ]. In addition, Webkinz is taking in revenues from advertising. To me this sounds like Ganz is struggling with the right revenue model and getting crushed by the overheard that comes with their success.

    My New Year’s resolution is to make Izzy’s Top 10 for 2008! See you in a few months…

    Love ur blog! Hope to meet you on the conference trail.

    – Robert

  3. January 6, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Ack! Just less to choose from if you don’t ‘do’ Disney.

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