Momentarily Noteworthy: T-Works Virtual World

Also next spring, the company has said it will launch–a site focusing on animation with shows such as “Looney Tunes” and “Hanna-Barbera.” The company said the venture, which will have original content produced by Warner Bros., will also include games and virtual worlds.”Fans will be able to forge a deeper relationship with the characters than they have ever been able to in the past,” the company said in September–perhaps offering some insight into plans for In2TV with its iconic characters drawn from “Lois & Clark” (starring Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain), “Wonder Woman” (Lynda Carter) and “Max Headroom.”T-Works sales will be handled by a digital media team under Warner Bros. syndication sales head Michael Teicher.

MediaPost Publications – Warner Bros., AOL Plan In2TV Relaunch – 11/12/2007

Since every (including me– but me as a reactionary) is all a-tizzy with the “There’s a Hurricane a Brewin'” article from the New York Times… thought I’d pass along this wee gem. It’s the Virtual World that has been in building-mode from Warner Bros on behalf of their everlasting property Looney Tunes.

Other than their page, I’ve not seen too much about it. But I do know that a rockstar peer has been working on it for a while, and he’s a community guru, so I expect fantasmigorical things from the new VW contender.

A very nice gentleman (who is also powering up for “the year of the VW/MMO” like myself and probably countless #’s of you reading this) by the name of Robert mentioned something to me via email about the squaring off of big co’s like Disney, Viacom, Turner, etc… and he’s SO right.

How amazing would it be to see a large boxing ring, with each mega-conglom’s sporting red gloves and pouncing from foot to foot, warming up. And come this ’08, one by one they’re going to square off in the ring– giving their best “unique” jabs to see who will win this round.

Disney, the one with the biggest guns, has been relatively straight forward & public with its plans… and has the best support system (any company who can get its fans to pay $2000+ for Hannah Montana tickets can basically do anything in any medium). Disney’s a hard hitter, and easy to bet on. Household names seem to always get more votes, whether they desire them or not. The only problem is… will Disney start paying too much attention to its own hype and build too many virtual worlds that the competition is less about the other major networks and more about itself…

But Nickelodeon has the edgy vote. It sports quite a powerful family of champions (Viacom Dynasty, notably the supreme champion of teens everywhere, MTV). Not to mention, it’s spent the last two years exploring the technique of “trial & error”… and since has been quietly preparing SOMETHING behind those big red curtains of quietness. If Disney is the popular preppy kid, Nickelodeon is the aloof, creative, popular kid that doesn’t have to try too hard to be liked. And there’s something slighty… naughty about Nickelodeon– perhaps it’s the uber-kid “go ahead and swim in the dirt, we won’t tell” mentality, or the fact it stands up for itself (and it’s shows) and supports the good, the bad, and the ugly (alluding to Zoey 101 & it’s continued support from Nick, despite less than happy parents).

Next you have Cartoon Network: The Dark Horse. Cartoon Network, although not as household-name evangelist, is still a mad dog of awesomeness. It’s not as concerned with the Disney existence and on occasion goes head to head with Nickelodeon. But where Nickelodeon aims to please a large demographic of tweens, Cartoon Network knows “what’s up”. They have a strong idea of their core audience and do their darnest to keep those peeps happy. Not to mention, they took the most strategic of approaches– sticking to what they know (games & boys/tom boys/anime) and waited for the market to catch up with them (Virtual Worlds exploring the casual gaming/MMO space). Now they’ve been holed up, and occasionally giving free peeks of their amazing strengths. They’ve watched those other two make decisions and jump early on the bandwagon, and have learned far more than if they had through the good ole T&E (trial/error). And soon they’ll unleash their plans & worlds like the darkhorse, and no doubt knocks some serious socks off.

And the Cinderella man of the group– both the old kid & the new kid = Warner Bros. They’ve been doin’ the whole “interactive websites” for a while (like Harry Potter’s hub site). But as Bugs has always kinda gone head-to-head with Mickey, Warner Bros. decided to join in the melee of uber-property VW explosion. Even more than Cartoon Network, they’ve worked & planned very quietly… and with a smirk on their face no doubt. It’s clear Warner Bros wants to see T-Works & the Looney Tunes revisited (especially since they’ve re-invented Bugs & crew about 4 times in the last ten years). They must have some particular awesomeness planned– especially since they & EA canned the idea of a Harry Potter MMO (which, in my humble opinion would have been the most obvious & strongest of power-packed punches).

Who will step forth and lead the pack of the conglomo’s by the end of this year? Mmmm, i dunno, but I am UBER pumped to see the results. Why? Because, whatever they do to “out-unique” or “out-mmo” one another will inspire some wicked awesomeness for the smaller Virtual Worlds on the horizon. It’s all about what comes from competition. Progression.

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  1. January 3, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    I think there is room in the game for each of these players to be a success. There certainly are enough players to fill them all!

    And if they are smart and build in activities which kids are able to do in short amounts of time, then players will have time to try them all.

    The bottom line is that there is some terrific work being done for this demographic and I think although targeted at children, will be played by kids of all ages.


  2. January 3, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    LOL, You’re right, Katie. In the end, they’ll all end up awesome-o with healthy #’s in the community department, and since they’re name brands with responsibilities– they’ll all hopefully continue to be as safe as they possibly can.

    But it’s not nearly as pretend-fun for us non-big-guns if they all win, lol.

    It’s a grand time to be in youth media online!! May 08 continue that streak.

  3. January 4, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Love the synopsis of the big guns. I’ve never really summarized their positioning, but you are dead-on.

    I wonder if the results will mimic each of their success with more traditional media? I believe it will… Disney the master story teller will always have that to add in whatever venue they operate. And Nick as you so well put it will “swim in the dirt” with great edgy shows like Avatar, Barnyard and Tak. Much of these same characteristics will continue to bleed over into the online worlds.

    But are they thinking of an opposite approach? Is there an opportunity to explore new characterizations virtually in a richer more interactive manner which then translates into a successful broader medium such as cable? This is where the small guys can lead the way. We don’t have the brand baggage which stops us from pushing something a little too far over the edge… We can take it down next week and ask forgiveness from our community. And if we’ve done our job right, they will love us for trying!

    In many respects, big media has taken the same position as big tech (Cisco, Microsoft, Google, etc.). Let the little guys play and put something interesting together. Then the war chests will open and assimilate the successful models into their own being.

    All-in-all it’s going to be great fun! (**Thanks for the shout out**)

    – Robert

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