Heads UP: Virtual Environment MMO for tater tots

There’s certainly money in this targeting children lark, judging by the news that California firm Fluid Entertainment has secured $3.2 million of Series A funding, which it plans to use to launch a new MMO aimed at children.

The company is keeping exact details under wraps, apart from the fact that the MMO will have an environmental theme, engaging kids with green issues as they play. Fluid has been developing games for children since the late 1990s, with clients including Hasbro, Disney, Mattel and The Learning Company.

Trinity Ventures led the funding, and general partner Tim McAdam explains the reasoning behind the new venture:

“With three other gaming investments in our current portfolio, we were looking for the right play in the children’s MMO area, which is an open canvas with only a few incumbents. Fluid has a veteran team, a great history, and a clear and progressive vision that positions the company to become a leader in this arena.”

The announcement cites a recent study from eMarketer claiming that MMOs will be played by 20 million children and teens by 2011.

Fluid Entertainment raises $3.2m to make MMO for kids | VWF blog | Virtual Economic Forum Content Library

Eyes peeled. 
With all the talk at SXSW from people looking for a educational, social conscious VW, this might be yet another example of unique IP. 

Really, what this comes down to is: great idea, but will it (in execution & launch) be able to compete with the entertainment/brand focused mega-worlds like Webkinz, Club Penguin, and Buildabearville? 

The Niche sites are fab, and I’m eager to see how the competition and/or SHARING of multi-world users (or single world players) shakes out.  The market is turning out like a buffet of opportunities, and kids will have full plates no doubt. 

We talked briefly in one of the virtual chat rooms during the SXSW panels about educational virtual worlds, etc, and why there always in need but rarely around.  One comment (probably from me, although I can’t remember) was about the entertainment, enjoyment level vs the hammered-over-the-head-with-learning.  Or perhaps it’s more about MARKETING.  Who gets in the kids faces the most?

Again, this year should prove interesting.

If anyone hears more about this, please pass along.  🙂

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  1. March 13, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    I’m one of the many pining for a decent educational virtual world for kids and I was happy to read this announcement when it came out.

    Finding the balance between fun and educational is not a new task and is something that can definitely be accomplished. Selected kids book publishers have been doing it for years. Stuff doesn’t always have to fit directly into the curriculum to be educational (at least not in Canada), so there is plenty of room for a fun, engaging vw that also educates. I think vw builders would do well to look to traditional kids publishing for inspiration and inspirational hires.

    Glad you had a good time at sxsw, Izzy! 🙂

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