Noteworthy: Beanie Babies 2.0

Beanie Babies 2.0, Ty‘s answer to the Web-connected plushie phenomenon of Webkinz, launched earlier this month. The world was developed by Animax, which also built and maintains Ty’s Animax, which also built and maintains Ty’s Ty Girlz world. Built in Adobe Flash, AS3, with a backend developed by Tokenzone, the $6 toys come with codes to bring kids online in a pre-decorated house with, unlike Webkinz, no expiration date on the subscription. “Animax has constructed a compelling virtual world unique to other toy-based virtual worlds on the market,” said Chris Johnston, Chief Technology Officer for Ty Inc. “Beanie Babies 2.0 includes a unique story-driven approach akin to MMOGs that engage kids of all ages through a fun, interactive narrative that becomes more engrossing with continued play.”

The New York Times, though, is unimpressed: “But there is less to do for your $6, with games unlocked only with the purchase of a second, third or fourth pet,” wrote Warren Buckleitner last week. “Considering the effect this might have on a persistent child, a more accurate name for the site might be Catalog 2.0.”

To be fair, it’s worth noting that Webkinz has had enormous success in using its online world to drive additional purchases. Also, it looks like, according to the Beanie Babies website, that one purchase will give users access to games, though each toy comes with a unique game as well.

Virtual Worlds News: Beanie Babies 2.0 Launches with Animax’s Help

Interesting choice to pair games with the beanie baby– this is a great idea, but from the comments made by NYT, I’m thinking maybe it could have been done a bit more strategically — there are some VW’s out now that I love, but with the low level/lack of games, there isn’t much reason to stay on. And if you don’t stay on, or have a reason for dedication, what’s the drive for coming back?

I go back to Neopets to feed my 3 year old pet, sure– but begrudgingly. It’s not fun feeling guilty about the dying/death of a virtual pet (i know, weird right? Did I ever mention that I thought cars had souls when I was a tater tot? Yeah, I’m weird). Anyway- I wouldn’t return to a virtual world after 2 weeks of pure pet caring… gets old and not fun (boooo responsibility)– but those games in Neopets? That’s what makes me spend endless hours, followed closely by the need to rack up points/tokens, and third: to buy things for my pet. In the beginning it’s a bit backwards– when you first start, it’s buying things for pet, then racking up points, then games, but that’s because it’s new. There must be some sort of depth to a world to entice a deeper level of citizenship.

Anyway, I’m running off in a ranting soap box again. I haven’t bought a Beanie Babie 2.0 yet, but will be on the look out for one later today. Then I’ll be able to accurately comment on this new(ish) VW.

side note:
Sorry for the lack of posting. Went home to surprise my mom for her birthday (ooo and the shock was great!). This weekend I’ll hopefully more than make up with it since I’ll be at SXSW: Interactive. And if any of you are at the California Safety Summit this week, do let me know! I should be there tomorrow.

UPDATE:  Woot!  So here’s the thing: the NYT gave off the wrong vibe, and users can play games once they’ve registered their beanie– but some games need multiple beanies to join in– which is a bit like in Buildabearville— where some games are multiplayer too.  Cool!  (Thanks Michael!!)

Side tangent: I have to say though– back to the “additional” products to open up new aspects of the game– I just remembered that Funkeys does it.  You have to buy the giant funkey (white) to plug in, and then to open up new characters & mini-games, you have to buy new smaller funkeys that sit piggy-back onto the white funkey.  And for as frustrating as it can be to have to buy-to-unlock, I am distracted by the fun/wackiness of the physical funkey-characters.   Perhaps sometimes it’s all in the packaging & the building of real-world excitement (aesthetics) and virtual world mysteries.

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  1. March 3, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Hi – the NYT got it wrong – there are games that are freely available once you’ve bought and registered one Beanie but then some games require that you have multiple Beanies to play them.

    In any case, would like to sit down with you at SXSW if you have some time – I follow along with your blog all the time.

    Michael Bellavia
    CEO, Animax Entertainment

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