Hello Kitty World launches closed Beta

Sanrio Digital announced today the launch of a closed beta for a virtual world based on its incredibly popular Hello Kitty brand. Hello Kitty Online will feature locations based on the Flower Kingdom, London, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow and more. Integrated with the community portal of Sanrio Town, the world will have ties to blogs, email, video sharing, and Sanrio merchandise sales as well as NPCs based on the characters of the Hello Kitty world. While the world seems to have a large social component, it’s being billed as an MMORPG with customizable avatars, guilds, skill systems, and a player economy. There’s combat and puzzle solving, but also crafting, houses to customize, and puzzles. Targeted at females in their pre-teens to twenties, the downloadable world is free to play, but will monetize off of the Item Mall, which “allows players to use real money to purchase special items and upgrades for characters.”

Virtual Worlds News: Sanrio Launches Hello Kitty World

I’ve been monitoring this for a while now– having linked to it in my Beta Virtual World collection… I’m on my way right now. More later.

UPDATED: Meh.

So the world isn’t LIVE yet (still closed beta). But from the intro pages, it is BEAUTIFUL. Like yummy junk food of bright deliciousness. It’s going to correspond in many ways to the pre-existing Sanrio Town. So, after getting bored of their “selling materials” on the beta-info page, I jumped over to Sanrio to get all signed up for when the site goes live.

And I encountered this Meh registration gem:

a) They take TOOOOONS of personal information (from age, FULL NAME, email, OCCUPATION, EDUCATION, to believe it or not INCOME).

b) They take all that information BEFORE clarifying whether or not they CAN/SHOULD take that information from children. After a user enters everything, the system does indeed BLOCK U13 members (they cannot join at this time).

c) I certainly hope they’re promptly deleting the info from their databanks for minors. It seems like they are– because I was able to then refresh the registration page, enter all of the same information but CHANGE my age to an appropriate age, and easily complete registration… w/o a bead of “will it let me know?” sweat.

I’m a uber-curious and trying not to be overly judgemental about their choice of blogs, video, and email with this demo. iCarly conquered it, as did (somewhat) Kidswhorip.com. It’s a TOUGH task to take– moderating & screening & getting parental sign off on UGC for U13 kids. It’s hard on scalability & cost & staffing & policy & protection & liability & responsibility, etc.

Hmmm. I’m going to ignore Sanrio Town for the moment, and go back to Hello Kitty World because it doesn’t creep me out nearly as much. Hopefully they’ll give some sort of info on how they intend to keep kids safe, and have a bridge of solidarity protecting Hello Kitty world from Sanrio Town’s less than tween-esque behaviors, and vice versa. More later.

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