Chaotic rings in with a Socially Neworkish Worldy Game Thing

Early PR had described 4Kids Entertainment‘s new collectible card game tie-in to the Chaotic brand as a boy’s answer to the increasingly popular Bella Sara card series aimed at young girls. Carlin West, Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Development for 4Kids Entertainment, sees it differently, though. “We really are very, very different,” she explains. “The only similarities is that there are physical trading cards and then a website.”
“The interesting thing about the world of technology and 4Kids is that the Chaotic brand is the brand that has brought us into the world of technology,” West continued. “Outside of dealing with video game companies that we do not own, it was the first time that we really entered the world. Each card has a unique activation code. There are cards out there where maybe one card in the pack has a code for unique assets, but each of our cards has an alphanumeric code that allows users to get virtual re-creations of it.”
The cards follow the general theme of the television series, which in turn is focused on two boys who play the Chaotic card game and are sucked inside a computer only to find that the world of Terrum, where Chaotic is set, is as real as theirs. They capture monsters to add cards to their deck by scanning alphanumeric codes. In the real-world, those codes can be used to create a virtual deck online, letting players attack the game over the Internet as well as in person.”We’ve been a licensing company for 30 years or longer, but we added television capabilities and have grown immensely,” said West. “The technology is new to us, but the idea of Chaotic is so important to 4Kids that we created our own trading card subsidiary. No one is doing anything like what we are doing because our Chaotic game is based on patented technology. Other people are putting codes on cards for assets, but we’re giving a gameplay element.

There are still social elements, though. West describes that in addition to the gameplay and a portal to Terrum, forums help build a community element. It’s also worth noting that Chaotic is still in beta, having launched in late October. It’s recently shipping mass market at Toys”R”Us stores in the U.S. and English-speaking Canada as well as at 1200 GameStop locations, f.y.e., and Suncoast. In the first two months, that led to 1,000,000 online cards being registered and over 110,000 online “challenges.”

As far as the success goes, West says it starts with the brand.

“Marketing to kids, which we are experts in and our track record proves that statement, is not something that everybody can do,” she said. It’s not easy to create a brand that will hit that targeted sweet spot. We have a good background in understanding the mindset and entertainment quotient in that boys age group. It first starts with the IP. You need an IP that will not be too violent. That’s probably the biggest thing between what will be appropriate for a boy 9-14 and an older boy. We’re proving that you can have an outstanding game without core violent.”

And the social section is growing as well, blending gameplay with a social network.

“You’re developing a social network almost organically because you’re playing other people,” said West. “The website registers all of your gameplay individually and keeps track of everyone playing around the world. Then on top of that it’s got a [monitored] forum section where you can communicate and talk about the game, the weather, or whatever you want to talk about.

The company plans to expand into “all of the major countries over the next year.”

Virtual Worlds News: Interview: 4Kids Entertainment Takes Aim at Virtual Worlds

Huh. Are they building a virtual world or just a virtual experience? Because… I’ve read that bit in Virtual World News twice and still don’t really get it. Kinda reminds me of myself in college– when I would run around telling everyone I was popular, but without any real reasons to back me up. “I’m really popular. No one has been popular like me before. All those other people might have friends, but my friends are special and not like anyone elses.’ Okay, okay… I am being harsh. Le sigh. I seem to be a doubting debbie this morning.

I guess I’m just weirded out because, from this statement, the place sounds a bit like a pokemon video game with forums.

Which reminds me– that’s basically more than Pokemon itself has. Why oh why– of all uber-fan groups– isn’t Pokemon a Virtual Environment of SOME type yet (other than it’s educational tie-in, known as Pokemon Learning League)? That goes up with the Harry Potter MMO that will never be (poo, EA, spoilsports!).

1. I should probably mention that I love Chaotic, the cartoon– the animation style is great and the writing is solid… plus it doesn’t look like all those other Japanimation monster/card/battle cartoons all over the tv. It’s about TIME they stepped into this space. Even though it sounds more like an interactive website following the property with a forum– which doesn’t really make a Virtual World… But who knows– maybe they WILL have some sort of worldly environment where kids can see others running around, but perhaps can’t chat (hopefully yet). Fingers crossed for them, yo.

2. Sure, Bella Sera is another example of a card game tie-in with a virtual experience… but I think they should also check out Magi-Nation, another card property venturing into virtual worlds.

3. I look forward to locating this beta and getting “stuck in” as they say. Toys R Us sounds like a stop on my way home this evening. I still have to head over to Build-a-bear in Hollywood (booo the 405 = horrible traffic), I keep putting it off.

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